Selling silver is a trade older than many professions today, but it’s showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. With millions of buyers, billions of valuable pieces, and dozens of great markets and resources, this is a robust industry.
But what are the best ways to sell silver? Is there a right way to do it, or a wrong? Join us, today, as we break down five invaluable tips for selling your next silver piece!
1. Separate Your Silver into Different Types
Before you can start down the road to selling your silverware for amazing money, you need to get organized. And that means separating the silver you already have into coins and collectibles, sterling, scrap, and junk silver. And be honest with yourself about what is scrap or junk. You’ll save yourself awkward appraisals down the road, so it’s best to go into this knowing what you do have.
Finding out what kind of silver you have on-hand helps to define your sales strategy. Silver is most found in bullion, collectibles, rare coins, rounds and bars, sterling and junk. Junk silver refers to any silver coin issued before 1965, but the coin must be made of 90% silver. Separating them into specific types of silver will help you to find each seller, as needed.
As an extra note, bullion coin is most suited to investments. But rare coins work best as parts of a collection or on a hobbyist’s mantle. The Morgan silver dollar, for instance, can fetch up to $175 for the right coin and the right buyer.
2. Check out Your Own Merchandise
Next is some more preliminary work before we can move on to the sale itself. Once you have your silverware sorted and ready, you’ll need to ascertain the quality of your silver product to understand its actual value.
First, let’s dispel a pretty common rumor among silverware collectors. A lot of silver jewelry will have the word “silver” printed on it in one location or another. This does indicate the item is made from silver but doesn’t indicate purity or quality in the metal itself.
A major factor in the value of your silverware is whether or not it is pure, sterling, or silver plated. That third one is especially important, as many pieces are actually silver plated and that makes them essentially worthless in a sale. Silver plating means that the item in question is actually made from a different metal altogether. This can be done in a range of different ways, from electroplating to various liquid treatments, but the result is always the same. A thin layer of silver applied to an item made from a much less valuable metal underneath.
On the bright side, this silver-plated “silverware” is labeled, far more often than not. Look for an engraving that reads “silver plate”, “EP” (for “electroplated”), or the initials “EPNS”, for silver plated nickel. There’s no guaranteeing whoever plated the item would have marked it but, if you can’t find a mark, it could be a sign that the silver you’re working with is real.
Manufacturers of sterling silver items are expected to mark them as such. So, if you can’t find the word “sterling”, “silver”, or “925” anywhere on it, you might very well be working with a silver plate. Because of regulations, it is rare to find pure silver items out in the world that aren’t inscribed like this.
Lastly, we have to restate: silver plate is of little-to-no value. If you try to sell silver jewelry that has been plated, know that the items have a low resale value. Items you may have inherited could very well be worth nothing much at all if they’re not marked as “sterling”.
3. Polishing: To Be Avoided at All Costs
It’s only natural, when you come into possession of a lot of gorgeous, older silver, to want to make it look its best. Maybe you’re a genuine enthusiast. Maybe you’re trying to boost your chances of a sale by making the items look better.
Either way, those tarnishes won’t do, and so out you run to the store for a bottle of silver polish.
Stop. Put down your keys, and keep reading. Because, it turns out, polishing your silverware can damage it in ways you didn’t even expect. Chemical polishes, for example, are not formulated for your silverware’s exact age and conditioning. They may be too harsh, ruining the finish and stripping the item of its luster, minimizing its value.
DIY tips for cleaning can be just as damaging. These often use items around the house and will assure you that a simple recipe will do wonders. The truth is, these could end up causing more discoloration and tarnishing than there was in the first place.
The most you should do on your own is to invest in a fine polishing cloth for jewelry if you need to stop or cover up discoloration.
4. Valuate Your Items
Now that the opening acts are out of the way, it’s time to start the main event: selling your item. Well, almost. First, you’ll need to spend some time determining the actual value of your silver.
After all, without some halfway decent research, you and your buyer would both be guessing at its value, and that’s no way to do business.
Begin by checking online and in stores for the current price of silver, in general. This value changes constantly, and that will factor into when you want to sell. Wait for the sale until the silver price comes down, for instance, and you’re going to get less for each item you sell.
Next, you’ll want to factor in any personalizations on the silverware itself.
Has someone monogrammed it? A short inscription on the inside of a sugar spoon that reads: “To my darling Jessica”? These are nice touches to put on something when you gift it to someone for an anniversary, but they actually lower the value of the silver. And trying to have them removed can be even worse, in some cases. But, as we’ve said already, it’s important to know what you’re working with before you start the sale.
Next, did you know that silverware comes in a limited range of patterns? It does, and this means that certain patterns are worth more than others. Maybe they’re older. Maybe they were once favored by the Royal Family.
Whatever the case, do some research to figure out which pattern of silver you have on your hands. Depending on its age or rarity, you’ll be able to find collectors who are willing to pay a much higher premium for the item. This applies to special mints or limited editions of various coins and a whole host of other silver products, all valued for their designs.
Last on our list: different silver products are valued differently. A specialty item, whether it be a specialty carving set or a cocktail fork, is going to fetch a better price from buyers than something more common. Additionally, having a complete set rather than a few items from the set is also going to bring in more money.
Collectors are going to be interested in unique pieces, but who doesn’t want the complete set of their favorite thing in the world?
5. Appraise Then Sell
By this point, you’ll have come about as far as you can under your own steam. You’ve researched, categorized, cleaned, and given your items a value you think is fair. You’ve done a lot, but there’s more to do, and you should let a professional handle it.
New sellers should evaluate their silverware before a sale, especially if you think you’ve got something good. After all, you may have a hot deal on your hands. A professional appraiser can help you figure out any potential pitfalls and shortcomings in your plan.
You can find an individual to handle the appraisal. This might take time and cost a little more, but you can rely on individual service and be able to conduct your business in private. Alternatively, you might visit an antique store and ask for an appraisal right there on the spot.
This is simpler, but you’ll have to keep your wits about you, as someone may try to strongarm you into selling early. Or, you may reach out online for a rough assessment, instead of an official rating. The benefit here is in the convenience, but also in getting to learn about your item from someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in buying it from you.
Whichever way you go, this step will help you set the value of your item so that you know you’re not letting it go for far less than it’s worth. In addition, with some research and a lot of vetting, you could find a service, ask them to “sell my silver” and let them take care of everything. In terms of the best way to sell silver, it all comes down to how much control you want to have over the process.
Once the evaluation is all clear, you’re free to go out and find the best seller for your item. In terms of where to sell silver, online sales work very well for this kind of transaction. Individual collectors are a great find if you have a rare or valuable item.
On the flip side, if you’re selling something with low value, you could go direct and sell it at a pawn or jewelry shop.
Selling Silver: A Finely Tuned Process
When it comes to selling silver, the more prepared you are the better. Hopefully, today’s tips for selling this lustrous, valuable metal will help set you on the path to big sales in the near future.
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