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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 often struggle to define the term “weighted silver”. The word “weighted” stands literally for non-precious filling materials that are basically responsible for an silver weighted item’s gross weight. The silver amount is mostly very small when we speak about weighted silver.

Is there really so little silver to find?

If you plan to sell weighted silver, you probably get curious about understanding why the evaluated price is often dramatically lower than expected. We made an experiment to proof  that weighted silver is usually worth just little money. There are rare exceptions for antique weighted silver pieces from famous silver smiths or important proveniences. But generally spoken weighted silver contains only a small amount of silver that is not very valuable. An example: a pair of rare Reed & Barton candelabras with a weighted base and center piece are worth thousands of dollars and their value-evaluation 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 in such pieces. It’s really unusual that a weighted-marked piece reflects any kind of collector’s value from particular importance. With the performed experiment, we wanted to proof that there is no important 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 are justifying 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.


only 0.24 millimeters thick

Recovered Silver

recovered sterling silver of an item marked Sterling Weighted

Approx. 10% of Gross Weight is Made of Silver

It was very easy to remove the friable filling materials thanks to the very thin silver-skin. The whole disassembling process took less than 2 minutes but created a mess as fillings were falling apart in little pieces, leaving behind dust and dirt.

After weighing all recovered silver pieces, a total  of only 17.22 grams of .925 Sterling silver could be discovered 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 were found in the candle holder. Someone who is not aware of this facts, would probably weighed the candle holder, and thinking that the total weight of the piece represents the value. From that perspective the value must be higher but the proven facts show the opposite. Our example provides valuable knowledge for both, laymen and dealers. reDollar has solved the mystery 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 Cookie 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 $12.27 and a selling value of $8.49.

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

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