I’ve heard from some readers that they were very disappointed with the offers they received when they tried to sell their silver flatware or hollowware for scrap. These readers had heard through the media that gold and silver prices had been rising like crazy and the potential sellers hoped to cash in on their silver pieces. There is nothing wrong with that approach as long as one understands some basic points. I’m going to describe a few such points in this article. Information like this is essential for someone planning to sell silver.
Is it sterling or silver plate?
The first thing to do is to identify what you have. Sterling pieces generally have significant value. Silver plate pieces do not. Review the following articles before going on:
- Sterling vs silver plate
- What does ‘800’, ‘825’, ‘830’, ‘835’ or ‘900’ mean on my silver flatware?
- What’s the scrap value of silver plate pieces?
What’s the weight of the actual silver in my pieces?
As the articles referenced above pointed out, flatware and hollowware pieces virtually never consist of 100% pure silver. So, you need to calculate the actual weight of silver contained within your pieces. Here are articles that will help:
- Easy tool to calculate scrap silver value
- Are sterling silver knives worth anything as scrap?
- Silver content in weighted sterling pieces: Case study
What’s the spot market value of the silver I have?
You should have calculated this in the last step. The “easy tool” does all the work for you once you know the weight of your pieces without any internal cement.
What cut does the refiner take?
Scrap silver eventually winds up at a refining business that will melt it down to recover the actual silver content. The refiner will charge a fee. In the simplest case, the refiner buys the silver at a discounted price off the current market spot price. Often, this discount is in the 10% range. Therefore, what you can get for your scrap silver just dropped by 10% off the world market price. The problem is that many refiners do not deal with the general public – they only deal with other businesses.
So, to whom can I sell my scrap silver?
There are many retail establishments that buy scrap silver. If you drive around your home town, you’ll probably see may signs that say, “We Buy Gold”. These places also buy silver. You might also sell to jewelry stores or pawn shops. A major issue is introduced at this point. These businesses need to make a profit so they are not going to pay you the same price they will receive from a refiner. How much of a cut will they take? Who knows! Therefore it becomes important to shop around. Armed with the information you calculated earlier in this process, you can determine how much is being eaten up by middlemen.
Consider selling through a different channel
The best thing about the scrap buyers mentioned above is that you can take your silver in and walk out with cash the same day. However, you might do much better trying a different approach although it will take you longer. Consider using craigslist.org or eBay.com to sell your silver. With either method, describe the pieces well. Include pictures of the pieces AND the marks on the back or bottom that include the word, “Sterling”. Include the weights of the pieces in the ad or listing. Another alternative is to sell to a dealer who resells silver pieces. Either way, you may come out a lot better!