How much silver in weighted silver items like candle holders

Weighted Silver

Weighted silver is very common in the US, although it’s kind of a mystery for many people – even for dealers.

bottom of candle holder marked "Sterling Weighted"

Understanding the term “weighted silver”

Most people and even dealers struggle to define the term “weighted silver”. The word “weighted” literally stands for non-precious filling materials that make up most of  a silver weighted item’s gross weight. The silver amount is usually very small when we talk about weighted silver.

Is there really that little silver in weighted silver pieces?

If you plan on selling weighted silver, you’re probably curious about why the evaluated price is often dramatically lower than expected. We did an experiment to prove that weighted silver is usually worth little money. There are rare exceptions for antique weighted silver pieces from famous silversmiths or important proveniences. But generally speaking, weighted silver contains only a small amount of silver that is not very valuable. For example, a pair of rare Reed & Barton candelabras with a weighted base and center piece are worth thousands of dollars, and their value is absolutely NOT based on the amount of silver that was used for crafting.

How much silver is in weighted silver items?

Candlesticks, candelabras, candle holders etc.

Experiment to discover the silver content!

Initial Situation

little candle holder marked Sterling Weighted

A candle holder marked “Sterling Weighted”

The value of most items marked as “Sterling Weighted” is usually the silver value. It’s very unusual that a piece marked as weighted reflects any kind of collector’s value. In our experiment, we wanted to prove that there is no significant amount of silver to be found in those items.

Initial Situation 

Total Weight: 159.39 grams

Non-precious Parts: weight unknown
Sterling Silver Parts: weight unknown

Let’s Look Inside Weighted Silver

opened bottom of sterling weighted candle holder showing filling materials

Very thin silver layer

We used pliers to cut through the silver surface so that we could reveal what’s inside the candle holder. Filling materials wrapped in a super-thin layer of sterling silver justify the official name: STERLING WEIGHTED.

We used a caliber to measure the silver layer’s thickness. The silver skin is only 0.24 millimeters thick and very soft. Without knowing the weight of these silver parts at this time, it was obvious that there was not much silver value present.

Silver Layer

only 0.24 millimeters thick

Recovered Silver

recovered sterling silver of an item marked Sterling Weighted

Silver Makes Up Approx. 10% of Gross Weight

It was very easy to remove the friable filling materials thanks to the very thin silver skin. The whole disassembling process took less than two minutes but created a mess, as breaking apart into little pieces, leaving behind dust and dirt.

After weighing all recovered silver pieces, we found a total of only 17.22 grams of .925 sterling silver as sellable material for melting and refining.

Sterling silver parts

17.22 grams = 10.80% of total mass

Filling Materials

cast-filling materials of sterling weighted silver

Filling materials represent 90% of total mass

An impressive 90% stake of worthless filling materials was found in the candle holder. Someone who is not aware of this fact would probably weigh the candle holder and think that the total weight of the piece represents the value. From that perspective, you’d think the value must be higher, but the proven facts show the opposite. Our example provides valuable knowledge for both laymen and dealers and solves the mystery of how much an item marked “Sterling Weighted” is really worth.

Non-precious parts

142.17 grams = 89.19% of total mass


scale, candle holder and purse silver next to filling materials

Weighted silver, a tough metal to trade

silver granules displayed next to weighted silver candle holderWe have placed exactly 17.22 grams of sterling silver granules next to the candle holder to illustrate the small amount of sterling silver in this item. 17.22 grams of sterling silver has a market value of $15.87 and a selling value of $10.98.

Conclusion: Be aware that there is just a small amount of sterling silver in items marked “Sterling Weighted,” and keep in mind that the percentage of silver can vary significantly from piece to piece.

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