It’s no secret that many jewelry owners do not know the value of their jewelry. It is frequently assumed that a silver chain or a gold ring are worth a lot more than they really are. Of course, this could go the other way as well. As clutter piles up and chains tangle and tarnish, it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s fake. For example, when it comes to silver, many do not know the difference between silver and silver-plate. When selling silver, it’s important to be educated on this topic as sterling silver obviously has a much higher value than silver-plate.
Do you know what you have? Do you know what it's worth? Ever had any interest in selling your silver?
1. Assume your silver jewelry is plated.
When jewelry is silver-plated, it means that a thin layer of silver is used to coat a stronger base metal such as copper or brass. If you don’t take proper care of the jewelry, or wear it in the shower one too many times, this silver coating will eventually wear off. Silver-plated jewelry is more durable than sterling silver jewelry and will therefore last longer. Despite this, sterling silver is much more valuable than silver-plated jewelry.
2. Silver-plate is not ashamaed of itself and neither is sterling silver.
Let’s talk about silverware. Many families have a set of silver tableware rusting in the attic. But is it silver? Or silver-plate? If you’ve never thought to check for markings, here's your chance. It is likely that a silver-plated silverware set will be marked as so. Sometimes, no mark at all is your sign that your silver is fake. If a piece does not say the word “sterling” adjacent to its maker’s mark, it is safe to assume that your silver is actually silver-plate. If you’ve identified your tableware set as silver-plate, unfortunately you won’t be able to sell your silver. Silver-plate contains very little silver and is not worth much on the market. Many buyers are not interested in silver-plated items of any kind. However, if the set is of any value to you, it will be with you forever. Silver-plate has been known to outlive sterling silver exponentially.
3. Tarnished does not equal ruined
Tarnished silver is not a pretty site. Silver owners will often use special cleaners or homemade concoctions to tidy up their jewelry. Choosing to go this route without doing the proper research may damage your silver unbeknownst to you. Silver is a very delicate metal and products such as toothpaste and baking soda may cause harm due to their abrasive nature. Certain store bought products can have a similar effect. Chemical dips or polishes that are designed for multi-metal use can be too harsh. Sometimes they can even ruin the maker’s mark on your silver -- this can make it harder to identify, should you decide to sell your silver. Treat your silver jewelry with care and it will care back. Take the time to clean it properly without rushing. By upkeeping your silver jewelry, you are likely to prevent it from turning black. -- Silver polishing cloths also come with mixed reviews. While gentle and easy to use, overuse will eventually scratch your metal. A jeweler may also recommend a non-toxic, less abrasive polish to protect your jewelry from tarnish.
4. People will care about your forks and knives for various reasons.
Some are collectors, some just want the metal. A sterling silver tableset is often valued for the silver itself. Real sterling silver will be marked with the numbers “925,” indicating that the piece is 92.5% real sterling silver. If the set is no longer of use or value to you, a jewelry buyer will be happy to purchase it for what it’s made of, not for what it’s used for. A jewelry buyer will appraise the silver and either confirm or reject your suspicions of its value. However when it comes to tableware, it is often that a dedicated collector will find more interest in your silver set than a jewelry buyer. If the set is old and rare, it’s in demand; especially if it is free of personalized monograms. Additionally, it is easier to sell an entire set of silver flatware as opposed to only a piece or two.
5. Checking current silver market prices is surprisingly easy.
Once you determine whether your silver is real or silver-plate, start checking around for its current value. Knowing this information comes in handy when bringing your silver in for an appraisal. This way, you’ll be able to speak the same language as the appraiser while simultaneously fact checking his or her information. Surprisingly enough, this information is just a Google search away.
Whether you're planning to sell or keep your silver forever - it's important to know what you own and how much it's worth. Like any other precious metal, the value of silver is constantly changing. If it's taking up space and you don't use it or wear it, maybe it's time to find out how to make your silver work for you.