Many customers come in wanting to sell their silver items. Here are a few things you need to know to help you determine whether your items are silver or silver-plate.
There are three things that you want to make sure of when you are looking at your silver. Is the item sterling silver, silver-plate, or is it weighted silver?
To determine if your pieces are sterling silver, first look for a stamp that says “Sterling”. You may also see a stamp that that says “0.925”, which is also sterling. This number refers to the percentage of pure silver in the item: 0.925 would be 92.5% pure silver.
In our example, we have a small silver candlestick. The bottom of the candlestick is stamped sterling but it also says “weighted”. This means that the candlestick is made up of ceramics or sand (depending on the age of the item) and simply coated in a thin layer of sterling silver. Not all weighted items have the word “weighted” stamped or engraved on them. The important thing to remember is that when you weigh a candlestick like this, it may weigh 5.5 ounces, but that does not mean there are 5.5 ounces of silver. When you take the ceramics out you have a very foil-like piece of silver. The silver by itself, in this case, weighs less than half an ounce.
You will frequently find this to be the same scenario with a large candelabra. In our video, the candelabra is also stamped “Sterling”, but it also contains ceramics, metal rods, and chrome. These types of candelabras are manufactured and dipped in silver two or three times. So when you break it apart, there is very little silver value per piece. Robert suggests to keep these items instead of trying to sell them or melt them down. A half ounce is only worth $10 (as of September 2014 when this video was produced). Luckily, candlesticks and candelabras like this can still be used as nice gifts.
Next we need to find out if our items are silver-plated. Robert has a silver fork that says “Sterling” on the back. Often, the item will have the name of the company that manufactured the item. Gorham, Wallace, Sterling, International Sterling, Reed & Barton, Tiffany & Co, Towle, Alvin, and RW&S are all good brands to look for.
On the other hand, some brand names indicate the item is silver-plated. Red flag words and brands look for are plated, silver plated, International Silver Co, Rogers & Company, Rogers & Sons, silver on copper, Triple Plate, Triple X, WM Rogers. If you do not see the word “Sterling” or a percentage of silver, it is likely silver plated. Silver plated items do not have precious metal value and are not purchased by Precious Metals Refinery.
In the video, Robert has a silver fork and spoon that are completely made of sterling silver. The knife, however, is stainless steel, and there is a stainless steel rod that continues from the knife blade into the knife handle to provide additional support. You can verify whether your knife handles contain stainless steel by testing them with a magnet. Silver is not attracted by magnets, but stainless steel is, so if your magnet sticks, your item likely contains stainless steel or another magnetic metal.
Often, knife handles will also contain ceramics for added weight and stability, which means they are just like our weighted silver candlesticks from the previous example. They are very light. When we purchase silver knives at Precious Metals Refinery, instead of just weighing them, we calculate the weight of silver based on the typical ratio of silver to ceramics and steel.
The tea set in our video is stamped “Rogers” which indicates that it is silver plate. You may think that just because a tea set is heavy, is is probably not made of silver. However, there are large tea sets out there that are made entirely of sterling silver, so it never hurts to check!
The tray in our example is silver-plated. We know it’s silver plate because there are no stamps or any indications on it. You’ll normally find the stamp on the bottom of the tray or on the rims or sides. Occasionally the stamp can be found on the handles of a tray.
We hope this video was informational and helpful, if you have any questions or need help, please visit Precious Metals Refinery and we will have one of our experts determine whether your valuables are sterling silver, weighted silver, or silver plate.
Precious Metals Refinery specializes in buying premier gold and diamond jewelry. Call us to arrange for your free quote. We are available seven days a week at our secure permanent locations.
Precious Metals Refinery, with two Tucson locations:
7069 E Tanque Verde Rd
Tucson, AZ 85715
21 E Speedway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85705