Sterling silver features an intrinsic value that makes it a highly coveted collector’s piece. However, antique pieces tend to bring in more value. As mentioned above, there are several features and factors that are evaluated when appraising sterling silver items. Since many items are being destroyed for scrap, the remaining sterling silver pieces will considerably become more valuable over the years.
Since the value of sterling silver is not fixed, it makes the item you have even more valuable. It can go up or down on a day’s notice. The silver spot price is used as baseline for pricing sterling silver commodities. The best way you can determine its actual worth is to have a professional appraise it.
Sterling silver should not be confused with pure silver. The former is not made of 100% silver. Instead, it is a metal alloy made up of 92.5% of silver and the rest is copper (or nickel and zinc). This makes it durable enough to be formed into various shapes and sizes to create the item that you want.
No silver flatware is made with pure silver. Pure silver is only found as bars with the purpose of trading silver as a commodity.
There are several things you can make with sterling silver. While sterling silver is valuable, the type of item you own can heavily influence its value when appraised. Below are common categories of items that are made with sterling silver:
Silverware: The use of sterling silver for dinnerware or silverware is probably the most common use of this type of silver due to the high polish quality. It is also not uncommon to find ornate designs in the sterling silverware that were produced in the market. Some of the silverware items that are made with sterling silver are knives, spoons, and forks.
Teapots: teasets are commenly made of sterling silver
Cutlery: We have dedicated a whole section to this
Musical Instruments: There are also several musical instruments that require silver components. For example, flutes and saxophones have been known to comprise of sterling silver metal pieces in them.
Jewellery: Aside from silverware, the use of sterling silver for making jewellery is also prevalent. Therefore, most of the collectible sterling silver items are prized jewels. Pendants, rings, and brooches are pieces of jewellery that make use of sterling silver.
There is a lot of research involved when trying to determine the value of sterling silver. It is important to research the individual features because one small factor can make the cost go up or down. These are the features that are evaluated during the appraisal of sterling silver:
Sterling silver is often confused to be the same as pure silver or silver plated items. However, there are plenty of differences among them. If you are planning to buy or sell your sterling silver items, it is important to know the difference as they also differ in value.
Sterling silver has a high silver content and is mixed with copper, nickel, or zinc. Meanwhile, pure silver is made of 99.9% silver. However, it is difficult to find pure silver items these days. Silver is a soft type of metal. Hence, they are not used for the manufacture of items because they are hard to work with on its own. The ideal way to manufacture items using silver is, therefore, to mix it with other metals such as with sterling silver.
Finally, silver plate items are the least valuable from this list. They do not contain silver in their composition; instead, they are only coated with a lining of silver to give it that shiny appearance. If you own silver plated items, you won’t be able to sell it (or do so at very low price).
It is pretty common for manufacturers that make items out of sterling silver to incorporate hallmarks and other stamps into their item. This is a highly significant factor that is used in appraising sterling silver. Hence, you need to look for them when you own sterling silver items. It can provide important details for the valuation of the item, such as its purity, origin, date of manufacture, and the name of the manufacturer. All of these factors can indicate how rare and precious the item is.
In addition, these hallmarks are also what the expert appraisers look for in sterling silver items. The hallmark is a good indicator of the items authenticity especially since there are several manufacturers of fake sterling silver. With this hallmark, you will be able to guarantee that the item is made with genuine sterling silver.
The use of other types of metal to create sterling silver makes it more durable. However, the presence of other metal content also makes it prone to tarnishing. The copper, zinc, or nickel content in the metal alloy could react to the oxygen or other natural elements, which causes it to tarnish. Therefore, cleaning and taking proper care of your sterling silver is important.
For sterling silver jewelry, it is recommended that you wear it often. The natural oils from your skin can fight the process of tarnishing on the metal. In addition, you can also store it inside a sealed pouch or bag. This will help to protect it from moisture that can cause the metal to tarnish.
In terms of cleaning sterling silver, you must only use cleaning solution or cloth that is designed primarily for this type of metal. Also, you need to follow the instructions for its use. Avoid the use of regular cleaning solutions. You could potentially destroy the silver and lose a significant amount of its market value!
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Lindsey Bourret is the Managing Director at Mearto. In addition to overseeing the daily operations of the business, she also enjoys sharing her extensive knowledge of the fine art and antiques market with our customers through our website, blog, e-newsletter and social media accounts.