How To Value Silver & Metals

Since ancient times, silver has been valued as precious metal for its rarity, beauty, as well as functionality.

Silver & Metals

antique silver pitcher

Throughout thousands of years it has served many uses ranging from currency, ornamentation, tableware, and much more. As it was then, today silver continues to be widely admired and sought after by appreciators of luxury and finery. Are you in possession of an antique silver tea set that you would like to have valued? Would you like to know an old coin collection you inherited is worth? Perhaps you would like to know more about the silver in your jewelry collection? The following article will be able to provide insight into determining the value of your silver and metals today.

Silver vs. silver plated

The very first aspect of your item to take into consideration is whether it is silver, or silver plated. A sterling silver item by regulation must consist of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metal, typically copper. On the other hand, something that is merely silver plated will be comprised of a cheaper base metal that is covered in a thin layer of silver. Due to the innate value of the material, sterling silver is without exception the more valuable and highly sought after choice, and silver plated objects often do not even retain their resale value.

Hallmarks

The easiest way to ascertain which of the two describes your item is to search for a hallmark or stamp. Silver that was forged in America after the year 1850 will almost always bear the word ‘Sterling’ or ‘925’ somewhere on the object, as well as the emblematic mark of its maker. However silver that originates from Britain can be a bit more complicated, as their hallmarking tradition dates back to the 14th century. 

British silver created after the year 1700 will typically bear at least four hallmarks; the status of sterling silver is indicated by either the symbol of a lion, a thistle, or a harp, depending on whether it was made in England, Scotland, or Ireland. The second mark will reveal the town in which it was created, for example London is represented by the head of a leopard. The third mark is a letter of the alphabet that indicates the date in which it was made, and the fourth mark will be the initials of the silversmith. 

Other marks you might find are duty marks, represented by a facial profile, or marks of origin from the European continent, such as a crown with a crescent moon or the number ‘800’ which specify Germany as the place of creation. 

"Typically the older an object is, the more rare it is likely to be, as fewer items of comparison will have survived the test of time, and thus its worth will be much more than a recently made and more common object."

Age & rarity

After you have determined whether or not your item is sterling silver, the next most telling factors of your items value will be its age in relation to rarity. Typically the older an object is, the more rare it is likely to be, as fewer items of comparison will have survived the test of time, and thus its worth will be much more than a recently made and more common object. Some companies are particularly sought after for their reputation of artistry and luxuriousness in quality. Tiffany & Co is among one of these such examples; a pair of Tiffany sterling silver bowls with liners sold at Morphy Auctions for $134,000. However this is not without exception, as even a quite recently made silver object can be rarer and higher in quality than an older counterpart.

antique silver pitchers

Condition

Of course condition is a deciding factor in determining an item’s worth; there are few on the market who would be willing to pay top prices for an object that is compromised in its beauty or preservation. One must take note of any tarnishing, dents, scratches, missing parts, or other such damage to the overall aesthetic and functional quality of the piece. The closer to like new condition the item is, the more valuable it will be. 

Seeking appraisal

Without a doubt, the most crucial step to take in assessing the value of your silver and metals is to consult a professional appraiser in the field. As the world of any precious metal is a longstanding and complex one, only a trained expert will be able to truly and accurately take into consideration all possible factors in order to make a trustworthy estimate. As luck would have it, there are such experts available for consultation here at Value My Stuff who will be able to provide services in professional appraisal and valuation, so you can take the necessary steps to finding how much your silver is worth today!

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