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Over the years numerous stories have appeared in the papers about lucky folks who discover precious metals in their lofts and attics which were left behind by parents and grandparents. Many of us even have old silver around the house. At a time when the price of silver is increasing and some experts are of the view that it could soon touch $30 an ounce, you can make some quick cash by selling off this scrap silver.
Although gold may be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to investing, silver is actually highly investable just like any other precious metals. It’s been a solid and reliable form of currency for over 4,000 years – and silver scrap trading is booming. However, since the end of the silver standard, pure silver has lost its status as legal tender. In 2009, the global demand for silver was primarily for industrial applications at 40%, coins, silver bars, jewellery, and exchange-traded products. By 2011, worldwide silver reserves were equal to around 530,000 tonnes.
But how do you go about selling scrap silver Indeed, there are newspaper adverts from dealers who offer cash for your scrap silver. But is this a viable proposition In this article, we’ll look at some of the basic things you need to know if you intend to sell your scrap silver.
The main way to check is magnetism as silver isn’t magnetic. By placing a strong magnet called a Neodymium magnet onto a silver bar or coin, it should repel and not stick to it. When testing bars, simply angle the bar at 45 degrees and allow the magnet to slide down – the magnet should only slide very slowly. Don’t forget to give it a good polish too, by using a lightly coloured, soft cloth. Once you’ve finished, inspect your cloth and if you witness black marks on the cloth then the object is very likely real; this is because real silver oxidises and tarnishes when exposed to air, and that’s the darkness you see on the cloth.
Silver is traded around the world at spot prices. Each troy ounce of silver will command a spot price on a given day. It’s important for you to look at these prices before you walk into a dealer shop or contact an online dealer about selling your scrap silver. If you don’t know the trading price of silver in the first place, you’re likely to be short-changed.
Getting ready to sell your silver is a process during which you should separate the different items of silver that you have. For example, if you have silver coins it’s important to segregate these from the rest of the silver that you plan to sell. Do a bit of research about the coins that you have, as some of them may have numismatic value. If you sell your valuable silver coins at scrap prices you’re losing a lot, so a bit of homework usually goes a long way.
In the same way, you need to separate out your junk silver, including bits and pieces of old and damaged silverware that may be in your house. Sterling silver, silver plated artefacts and pure silver are different things. So, it’s important that you determine what you have before you rush off to get a price for them. There may be different marks on your silverware, which could give you an indication of whether your silver is Sterling or plated. For example, the letters EP often stands for electroplated and the letters EPNS denotes electroplated nickel silver. There may even be a number indicating the purity.
Clean 925 grade silver is classed as 92.5% pure. Many scrap silver facilities will also accept Dutch, Austro-Hungarian, 1st Standard French, Russian and Danish silver as well as any articles which are marked as “Sterling”. Check out our buying and selling guide for guidance too.
In order to be accepted, the silver generally needs to be “clean” i.e there’s nothing in it that isn’t silver (e.g. wooden handles, resin filling etc). If you’re worried about it, plenty of places also buy lesser grade silver, for example, foreign silver, 500 standard coins and 800 standard silver too. They are likely to offer you a pay rate proportional to the 925 rate.
Items that are purely valued on their metal value (for example by weight) include most smaller objects like cups, tea sets, bowls, dishes, trays, baskets, mugs, napkin rings etc. Other items include chains, bracelets, necklaces, and other pieces of jewellery whether repaired, worn or damaged.
As metal, in general, has risen so much in value it’s had a massive impact on the antique silver market. The aesthetic, antique values of many objects have now been overtaken by their intrinsic metal value.
A large number of second hand, antique silver pieces are now valued by their weight, meaning the value will fluctuate depending on the daily price of silver. Any items which are particularly interesting or unique are likely to be given a higher value than less quality scrap metal, however, any facility will judge each item on its own merits.
Many people don’t know about this but leaving you’re silver unpolished is likely to fetch you a better price. It’s true that your silver may look shiny and new when you polish it, however, the polishing process may damage the silver and erode the surface, devaluing it in the process. If you feel the need to clean it at all, it’s best to use a jewellery polishing cloth.
It might be a good idea to take your silver to a professional dealer if you know one, to get an appraisal on the price of the silver you’re about to sell. You can check the website of the British Numismatic Trade Association (BNTA) to find a reliable dealer. Physical gold is a reputed BNTA approved, online dealer and our team of experts will be happy to help you out on this.
Always shop around and check the different offers that buyers are giving you. If you have silver coins, you might consider visiting a coin show in order to sell your collection. You could definitely get a much better price for your coins at an event like this. Similarly, if you have silver items of value, it might be worth visiting a high-street pawnshop to see what they offer. Another way to get a good price for your items is to list them on eBay and auction them. If any of your items are valuable, it’s likely that buyers on eBay would pick up on this and bid against each other, raising the price.
If you are unsure whether your item would be considered “scrap” or antique the experienced team at Physical Gold can help when selling precious metals. Simply call us on 020 7060 9992 or email us so we can speak to you about your options.
Image Credits: J.S. Klingemann
Daniel Fisher formed physical Gold in 2008, after working in the financial industry for 20 years. He spent much of that time working within the new issue fixed income business at a top tier US bank. In this role, he traded a large book of fixed income securities, raised capital for some of the largest government, financial, and corporate institutions in the world and advised the leading global institutional investors. Daniel is CeFA registered and is a member of the Institute of Financial Planning.