Sterling Silver Value
At the close of business on Friday, July 31, the spot price for silver in New York was $13.91 bid per Troy ounce. (A Troy ounce is 1.097 regular ounces or 31.1 grams.) Does this matter in your scheme of things?
It might matter if you have any old silver around the house and want to turn it into cash.
Silver is one of the “noble” metals. It doesn’t rust, and, before our air got filled with pollutants, it didn’t tarnish. Since ancient times it was used for ornaments and for eating and drinking utensils. Around the house you probably have some silver jewelry and silver table setting pieces. If you are interested in turning any of these into cash, there are several ways to go about it.
One way is to sell your silver jewelry and table settings as such—that is to say, as jewelry and as table settings. These things have artistic and historical value sometimes far greater than the intrinsic value of the silver in them. If you can find a collector who simply must have that necklace Aunt Mildred gave you for Sweet Sixteen, the only limit on what you can get for it is what the collector is willing to pay.
Trusted Silver Scrap Buyers
You could take your pieces to a jeweler or to a pawnshop. (The jeweler will probably want to treat your piece as a “trade-in” rather than paying you outright for it.) The problem here is that those folks are interested in what they can turn around and sell right now. Something old-fashioned and not much in demand is not likely to be worth much to them. The same is true of the places that buy old table settings to sell to somebody who needs replacements to fill out incomplete sets. The demand for the pattern determines the price they’ll pay you, regardless of what the piece originally cost. And you have to look for them.
The simplest thing to do is to treat your old silver pieces as silver scrap and sell them to one of the many buyers of silver scrap.
Silver scrap buyers are interested only in the intrinsic value of the metal, not in any artistic or sentimental value it may have. (So remove any precious stones before you send them your old silver jewelry!) The places that buy silver scrap will pay you by the weight of pure metal that you send them. Unlike collectors, online silver scrap buyers are easy to locate (they advertise on television and the Internet), and they will be happy to tell you how to sell your silver scrap to them. Most will even give you a container to mail the pieces in.
There are some things you need to know, however, about how to sell silver scrap. Remember that closing price of $13.91 mentioned at the beginning? You can forget about getting the closing price for several very good reasons.
In the first place, that price is for bullion, which is 999/1000 pure silver. The silver scrap in your house is mixed with copper to make it more durable. Britannia silver is 958/1000, genuine sterling is 925/1000, and most silver jewelry is only 800/1000.
(Carats are no longer used to denote the purity of silver, but if you have a piece marked in carats, divide the carats by 24 and multiply by 1000 to get the parts per thousand as above. For example, 18 carats = 750/1000.) Nothing you have at home, therefore, is likely to be of bullion purity. Some “sterling” silver consists of silver plating stuck onto base metals.
Secondly, silver scrap buyers and silver refiners need to assay what you send them and then refine it into bullion. This takes time and money, and a portion of the scrap silver that they buy is lost in the refining process. Who buys the bullion? Apart from jewelry, coinage, and table settings, silver has a number of industrial uses in batteries, ball bearings, and electronic circuits. Before digital cameras came along, silver had practical applications in photography as well.
Thirdly, when looking for where to sell silver scrap, remember that the price of silver fluctuates, like the price of any other commodity. If you have scrap silver and want to sell it to a buyer of silver scrap, this is a good time to do so, because the price of silver is up. The places that buy silver scrap, in turn, are taking a chance that they can refine and sell it at a profit. (On a single day back in the 80s the price of silver dropped from $21.62 to $10.80!) Right now silver is higher than it has been recently, and it’s a good time to sell.
So, if you want to convert your old silver into cash, you’ll get your best price from a collector who is panting to possess what you have. Otherwise, places that buy silver scrap are easy to find on the Internet and will gladly send you mailing instructions and a container for mailing your silver to them. Then all you have to do is wait for your check.