About selling silver
Being granted the chance to use a silverware that has been in your family for generations and generations, can be an amazing privilege. However, a moment might come when you’ll feel that you had enough with polishing it after each holiday season.
You might even make a promise that these holidays are the last to see such silverware. They do look good, but knowing that there are other more modern alternatives to it can make you have second thoughts about it.
Nowadays, there are several ways to sell silver and get quite the good amount of money on it. We’ve found three methods that include selling on eBay, or to a silver matching service, or even as cash-for-metal, which is actually a pawn shop.
No matter what option you might choose, you’ll get both pros and cons, like with everything in life. Keep on reading to find out more which of these alternatives helps you maximize your profits. We’ll do our best to cover the most important aspects so sit back and enjoy your read.
Learning how much your silverware is worth
It’s no rocket science to understand that the metal making up your forks, knives, and spoons is the one that will dictate the cash flow. However, you should acknowledge several aspects about it before you rush with a bag full of silverware to a pawn shop.
In fact, you might get more money if you decide to sell your silver to collectors. There are several criteria that will show you how much your little treasure is worth.
First and foremost, the price of silver will give you a hint on your silverware’s value. The price goes up and down so silver’s value is basically fluctuating. Whenever silver will have a higher price, you’re most likely to get some good cash for your merchandise.
Another aspect to keep in mind is how old and how rare is your silverware. Material stuff becomes unpopular or even more popular as time goes by. Any collector you might think off will surely pay more for those goods that have more rare patterns. Moreover, if your merchandise comes from earlier than 1920, then you are in for some serious money.
Monograms are something that can definitely lower your chances to get good money on your silverware. Therefore, any initials marking your goods are a value killer. You can try to cover them up, but this is something that a genuine collector will observe anyway.
The rarity of your goods will be another marker for a good value. Other objects, like hostess sets, barware, carving forks, and knife sets, demitasse spoons, or cocktail forks will get you the real money.
And last, but not the least important, is having a complete set. While you might get some $30 for a single spoon or fork, a complete setting will surely catch the attention of a collector. They’re more into purchasing a complete place setting in order to expand their collection.
Experts in the field, such as the owner of Antique Galleries of Palm Springs, believe that there are other ways of knowing the worth, as well. For instance, some believe that the present trend in buying leaves aside sterling silver tea sets, candle holders, and flatware.
However, an exception to this ‘rule’ is the silver flatware and tableware manufactured by Tiffany. Also, those goods holding a very qualitative workmanship or those that are linked with a famous person or historical event are main deals.
When it comes to your family’s silverware, determining whether it’s the sterling or plated type, this will surely give you a better idea on its value.
How to know if your silverware is sterling or plated
You might think that if your goods are marked with ‘silver’, then they’re the real deal. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s pure, solid silver. It can just turn out to be the plated type.
So how to tell the difference? Silver plating is sometimes referred to as ‘electroplating’. This means that a layer of silver is applied to flatware that is made from a different metal.
There’s no hidden clues you have to find in order to tell if it’s plated or not. Fortunately, these types of products are almost always marked as such. You might find marked a simple ‘silver-plate’ on the backside of a fork, spoon, or knife.
Other markings include ‘plated’, ‘EP’, which stands for ‘electroplated’, or ‘EPNS’, that comes from ‘electroplated nickel silver’.
Another easier way to tell if you’re dealing with plated silverware is if you can’t find any markings about the silver purity. Nowadays, several manufacturers make both silver-plated and sterling products.
Among them we chose the following as the most important ones:
- International Silver Co.
- W.M. Rogers
- Rogers and Son.
If you are the owner of any of the above manufacturers’ products, look for the marked word ‘sterling’. If it doesn’t sterling nowhere, then your items are plated.
Also, if you do not see any marking at all, then most likely you are dealing with silver-plated products. It’s very rare for a sterling manufacturer to not mention this through a marking on their merchandise.
What to do with plated silverware?
Any of the plated products come with quite the thin layer of silver, which is commonly less than 0.1 micrometers. This goes to show the intrinsic value of a flatware.
You can always choose removing and replating your flatware, but it’s too expensive to be worth it. Any resale value is not enough to cover your expenses. So you might as well just enjoy it as it is. It is said that it can last circa 20 years if you care for it the right way.
How to know if your silverware is sterling?
Experts tell us that there are several markings that can show you whether your items are sterling or not.
We’ve gathered the most common ones and here they are:
- Fine, which means that your goods are 100% pure silver
- Sterling, as a legally binding term, shows a percentage of 92.5 pure silver, and not plated
- 925, or even a higher number, is used for those products of at least 925/1000 purity. The remaining percentage is of copper, commonly used as an additive. Also, note that your ‘.925’ marked products are manufactured in America.
A lion or a lion’s paw will indicate a sterling silver coming from England. You might also find the city, manufacturer, and the year of making.
So now that you know what to look for in a sterling product, you can easily go on to the next step, which is evaluating its value. However, don’t assume that this will guarantee that you’ll recognize the marking because it doesn’t.
For those items that are very old, you might have a good chance to notice the name of the manufacturer, with its specific mark. For instance, some of the silverware coming from the civil war-era was usually melted down from coins. Also, they carried the stamps made by a family member or by a local silversmith.
If you are the happy owner of such a good, you can use online search engines to help know more about your goods. We think that the Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks, and Maker’s Marks can do a good job for you. at least, you get to learn about your silver’s country of origin.
Tools to identify any sterling silverware
The online world offers you multiple options for identifying sterling silver flatware or tableware. After going through several comments and reviews, we found that The Silver Queen’s sterling silver flatware identification page might be the best choice.
As you go on their page, you’ll notice that there are more than 15 various manufacturers featured there. Also, you can see numerous photos of each type of patterns those manufacturers use in their making processes.
Of course, other options are available and you can actually get quite the good results. For example, you could reach out to a silver matching service, like Replacements, Ltd. They can help you identify the pattern, but keep note that this service might require a small fee.
Selling your silverware on eBay
So now you know for sure what type of silverware you’re dealing with. Either it is plated or sterling, now you can move on with selling it. You can start by checking how much it would sell for to collectors.
We’ll talk further about two ways of making your sale, which means that you’ll have to check the going rates from each.
Let’s think of an actual product so that things become clearer. Let’s say that you have a spoon, which is known as an International Sterling Queen’s Lace demitasse.
You can now go on eBay and look for a possible value. Just enter the maker and pattern of your sterling silver. However, we strongly advise that you don’t get too excited. The prices that come up are just part of active auctions that no one has purchased yet.
To make things easier for you, you can filter your results. Choose the Sold listings box, under the Show only title from the menu on the left of the page. This is how you’ll get a better idea about the value your piece holds.
We’ve done this with the International Sterling Queen’s Lace demitasse spoon. The results show that you could sell it anywhere for an amount between $15 and $25.99, as an individual item.
As we mentioned in the previous lines, you should always consider selling complete silverware sets. These are known to sell faster and at higher prices. Of course, it all depends on how well preserved and how rare they are.
So if you want to sell such a complete setting, you should use the term ‘lot’ when doing your eBay searching, for instance. You can use the highest to lowest price filter to be more accurate on what your setting’s value could be.
Is eBay good for selling your sterling silverware?
Selling on eBay comes with both pros and cons. Advantages revolve around the fact that it’s highly probable that you’ll get the highest price for your sterling silver.
However, the downside, if it can be seen as such, is that you’ll have to take care of the whole private selling process. This means that you will have to take a lot of good pictures, list the individual pieces, and make sure the shipping takes place accordingly for each order.
Collaborating with a professional silver matching service
You can turn to such services in order to get your pieces sold to collectors. Here are some of them that offer good services:
- Replacements, Ltd.
- Antique Cupboard
If you decide to give their services a try, you cans tart by contacting each of them in order to get your bids. Just fill out the form you’ll find on their websites. You’ll need to specify which pieces you want to sell and how many of them. After this is done, you’ll just wait for your bid.
From all the information we found online, we noticed that Replacements, Ltd. seems to be a good choice. They answer their emails quite fast and people said that usually, their bids come 48 hours after submission.
We were happy to see that somebody already requested a bid for a demitasse spoon and the bid was of $9. Now, there’s something you need to understand. Each bid offer will highly depend on the condition, which your item to-be-sold is in. Also, you should know that with some services, shipping can be included, but others will expect you to covers such costs.
The whole process asks for patience and receiving your money is no exception. It can take several weeks for the company to complete your item’s evaluation and send you the money.
If, by any chance, your items do not pass the evaluation, note that they might get discarded or shipped back to your at your expense.
Considering the high costs for shipping large amounts of silver, you can give another strategy a try. You could email the company asking for an initial evaluation based solely on pictures you send them.
Therefore, you can ask for an initial assessment of quality to be made using pictures. This is useful to know whether your goods are too scratched or worn. Moreover, it can save you a significant amount of money, which you’d otherwise have to pay on shipping.
Now, you might wonder if it’s worth it to contact those silver matching services at all. Since you have this option with Replacements, Ltd. and other similar ones, why do it, right?
Well, with silver matching evaluations you can be certain that you’ll receive professional advice. With any of the above mentioned online evaluation alternatives, you cannot know for sure who actually makes the evaluation.
Could you differentiate a demitasse spoon from a youth five o’clock one, and a fruit spoon with just a look? We couldn’t and we dare to assume that neither could you. Therefore, there are chances that you could sell an item for far below its value, not being aware of it.
So the main idea is that a bid can help you choose the pieces that can get you high amounts of money. Then you can look them up online and know for sure that any mistakes are made when identifying an item.
Why should you know the commodity price for sterling silver?
In order to determine an item’s intrinsic value, you can use a scale to learn what is the exact weight it has.
Precious metals, like silver, are measured in troy ounces, and one troy ounce stands for 31.1 grams. You should understand that a troy ounce is different from a standard ounce, which holds 28.35 grams. For small quantities, the difference might not seem too significant, but once you trade larger amounts, it will surely add up.
Now let’s go back to our demitasse spoon example. So we got our bid of $9 from the silver matching representatives, and that on eBay it can bring us $15 and even higher, up to $24.99. Yet, how much does the silver itself is worth?
If it were melted, its value would be of around $5.15, considering that we take the value of .36 troy ounces and a price per ounce of $18.18, which is known as the silver spot price.
For just one piece, this is certainly not too much. However, larger items will obviously get a higher value. In the end, a spoon barely gets to a measure of 4 inches.
Is polishing necessary before making the sale?
Is the tarnishing of your silver bothering you? You might be tempted to make it look bright and shinny, but any chemical you use to remove stains can significantly reduce your item’s value. The same can happen if you don’t follow the sliver cleaning tips and turn to any online trick you read about.
You can try to use a jewelry polishing cloth. This will be gentle enough to not ruin your silver, but enough to help you with your initial inspection.
Some customers might see tarnish or oxidation as a selling point, according to what experts say.
It seems that some people actually like seeing some signs of tarnish on their silver pieces. For some pieces of jewelry, such contrasts between the high polished areas and the oxidized ones can provide quite the look for the product.
If you own silver items that could make for a good sale, then you first and foremost need to arm yourself with patience. It;s a whole process of learning about your silver and it might look too intense at first. However, it’s all worth it when you get the actual true price for your goods.
No need to hurry because selling silver, this precious metal, can certainly bring you some good cash if you do it the right way.
Therefore, do your research accordingly about where your silver originates from, the pros on weight, and about the different ways you can sell it through. It helps if you choose to see your silver as a sought-after commodity that needs to be sold to the highest bidder.
After doing our own research on selling silver, we learned that putting some effort into it can actually bring you three times more money. Also, selling it on the private market, rather than to a pawn shop, can have a lot to say for your finances.