Is sterling silver valuable? Is silver valuable?

Alan, I see that you are an expert for silver and gold. I got silverware of unknown value. I only know that all pieces are marked with a lion symbol and the number 925. I already found out that the number 925 stands for sterling silver. Almost all pieces are tarnished, some are damaged but they look good to me. Well, I wouldn’t use the silver anymore but they are nice to use as decoration. However I decided to sell my silver. I can need the money and I really don’t have a use for it. Can you tell me, is sterling silver valuable? Is my silver valuable? And if yes, would you buy it? Thank you.
Tyler from Charlotte in North Carolina

Dear Eric, I received your photos and item descriptions and I fully agree, you own sterling silver. Sterling silver is valuable, that’s absolutely doubtless. But it needs some work to talk about the silver value. We have to distinguish between unwanted, absolutely useless sterling silver and silver made from a special silversmith, owned from an interesting person, family or museum, or also rare sterling silver. Most of your items are more or less useless, that’s correct. These items are sold for the current silver price but two of your items are more worth than scrap silver. You’ll see! Generally, silver is always valuable. It strongly depends on the amount you own and the quality. expert, Alan Jensen

Is sterling silver valuable? Is silver valuable?

Eric: I sent you some information about my sterling silver. I got it but I don’t like to keep it. I prefer to get the money. I have 10 spoons, a coffee pot, 2 candlesticks, a tray, a bowl, a cigarette case and something looking like a box or a thick frame with a gaudy painting. Some silver pieces have scratches or small damages but the overall condition is not bad. Personally, I wouldn’t use or place the items in my home but probably someone else. Can you tell me how much they are worth? Sterling silver doesn’t seem to be very valuable, is that correct?

Alan: Eric, sterling silver has a nice value. Dazzled by the silver bull market, Americans are digging through drawers, moving boxes or old cabinets for old sterling silver bought or inherited many years ago. Americans are really cashing in and times are great to do so. Well, the stock market trend always fluctuates a little bit but the current price for silver tempts for selling. Sterling silver is not pure silver. Pure silver is soft and very ductile but not as soft as pure gold. It’s easy to stretch, hammer and good moldable. Sterling silver is an alloy made up of 92.5 percent pure silver and 7.5 percent copper. Silver and gold have a good bonding capability thanks to its elements. If a silversmith adds 7.5 percent copper to pure silver he creates a silver alloy called sterling silver being less pliable and stronger. A strong characteristic is needed to create things for the daily use such like your tray, your spoons or your candlestick.

Eric: I understand! So, the value of my sterling silver is the value of 92.5 percent of pure silver, correct? And do you know why it’s called sterling silver?

Alan: Yes, the value of sterling silver is exactly 92.5 percent of pure silver. Referring to the name “sterling silver” – it’s interesting that you ask me this. Nobody did that before. It’s simple to explain. At one time Great Britain used silver coins made of 92.5 percent pure silver and termed this percentage sterling. Silver was always valuable and sought-after. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, all silver mines in Europe were solely royal leaded mines. All mines were the property of the king and the royal eye watched all mining activities with maximum care and attention. Illegal developed mines got spotted as fast as possible, to reclaim its just return to the royal ruler. Also today, silver is highly sought-after and valuable.

Eric: You provide highly interesting facts to me. I’m impressed!

Alan: Silver is an interesting topic. Now I’d like to tell you the value of your items. I’ll begin with the interesting silver pieces of your property: the cigarette box and the “thing” you described as a thick frame or box with a picture.

Eric: Go ahead, I’m excited.

Alan: If I would classify your cigarette box as old silver or scrap silver the value would be around $50. But your cigarette box was made in China, approx. two centuries ago. I think it was made in the 19th century. It is a Chinese export silver cigarette box of finest quality. On the surface, you see dragons, flags, flowers, people, mystic symbols, a temple and some Chinese letters. It has some small damages and scratches but the condition is not bad at all. I would classify this box as interesting for collectors. I think this box is worth around $300. Our offer to buy this box is approx. $220.

Eric: That’s a nice value for a small box. I’m glad that I haven’t sold it on the flea market.

Alan: Yes, you can be happy. Probably you would have sold it for around $30 or $40 as you told me some days before. It can pay off to invest some time to ask an expert.

Eric: Yes, you’re right man.

Alan: The next interesting silver piece is your item with the painting. I checked all your photos and me and my team we are pretty sure that this is a small porcelain plaque, surrounded by a thick sterling silver frame. It’s tricky from afar but we are sure that it’s an antique piece made in the 19th century – probably made in Germany. Beside France, Germany was an important manufacturer of porcelain plaques. World-renowned companies like K.P.M. Berlin or Meissen produced porcelain plaques. The difference between your porcelain plaque and them from K.P.M. Berlin or Meissen is the quality of the painting itself. Your painting is not very fine or outstanding. It’s nice but you also described it as gaudy-looking. But nevertheless, for a collector it’s an interesting silver piece. We think that the frame can sell for $500. Therefore our purchase offer is $370.

Eric: Sounds great to me. I really dislike the piece but if someone likes it, fine! I surely will sell it to you.

Alan: The rest of your sterling silver is not very interesting. Well, the candlesticks are nice and probably you’ll find a buyer paying more than the silver value but for my point of view, it would involve too much time. We wouldn’t run efforts to find a potential buyer, if we would be the owner of your candlestick. Also your spoons; they are not damaged only tarnished but even though nothing to place on the resale market. Spoons are entirely made of silver and therefore great for selling. You weighed all items for us and based on your provided weight, we calculated a total value of around $875. Consider that I see a handle made of wood. Wood isn’t very heavy therefore I don’t expect a significant deduction of your payout amount but probably there are fillings like gypsum or sand which we can’t see without doing a personal check. p>

Eric: I understand. Is it really possible that my sterling silver has some fillings?

Alan: Yes and no. Sometimes coffee pot stands are filled with sand or gypsum to improve their stableness. It’s not visible on your photos. An expert who had lots of pots in hand can “feel” it but even a feeling has to be double-checked in our laboratory.

Eric: Ok, sounds reasonable.

Alan: Yes, it’s really reasonable because sand and gypsum can increase the total weight of a sliver item by 10 or 20 percent. That would mean that we offer you between 10 or 20 percent more than justified. We can’t afford to buy base metals as silver because our payout amounts are so close to the silver spot price. Silver is very valuable but sand or gypsum doesn’t have a value.

Eric: I understand and that makes sense. I’ll start my selling process with you. I like how you communicate with your clients. I asked a pawn shop for an estimation for my sterling silver. The man was just looking at my items followed by his offer in some seconds. These guys wanted to get me out for $500. That’s by far too little cash compared with your evaluation. Thanks, Alan!

Alan: Our passion is to help Americans to understand the value of their silver and other assets. It’s our company’s mission to fight against the common rip-off in the second hand industry. Your recommendation is our target.

Eric: Bye Alan! I honor your philosophy.

Alan: Thank you! Have a good day!

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