A Guide on How to Calculate the Value of Your Sterling Silver

If you’ve recently purchased or inherited some antique silver, you’re probably wondering if it’s worth anything. The good news is that you have pieces that will look great even if they are tarnished now, no matter what type of silver you have. The bad news is that these pieces might not be worth as much as you think. A few factors must be considered in order to determine the value of your silver.


Silver Items

Is it Real Silver?

The first thing to determine when approximating your antique silver’s worth is whether or not what you have is actually real silver. If it is, you do have valuable pieces. If it’s not, you have some pieces that look great but aren’t worth as much. In order to determine this, you need to clean up the pieces using tarnish remover or one of the many home solutions out there.


Sterling Silver

Now you want to carefully search the piece for specific markings. If you can’t find any, what you have is likely silverplate. It looks nice, but it’s not true silver. Instead, it’s something such as copper that has been plated with a thin coat of silver. If the piece is fairly lightweight, that’s another sign that it’s plated.

If, on the other hand, you find the word “Sterling” stamped on the item, then you do have a piece of sterling silver.

Look for Additional Markings

Antique marking

If your piece was made after 1850 in the U.S., it will be marked with one of three things. The first is simply the word “sterling.” It may also be marked “.925” or “.925/1000. If it’s simply sterling, you likely have a piece that is pure silver. If you find one of the two numbers, then what you have is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.

Very Old Pieces

Old silver piece

If you believe you have true antique sterling silver that was made before 1850, it won’t have a mark on it. However, there is something you can do to test it. You’ll need to consult with a silver expert, though. These professionals can do an acid test that will show if the piece is true silver or not. Don’t attempt to do any type of testing on your own—you could damage your piece, decreasing its value!

Determining the Pattern

If you find that your piece does have a silver mark on it, you can search online to see if you can determine the manufacturer or the pattern. This can take some time, but there are a number of websites out there that include many high resolution images of different silver patterns that you can compare yours to. You may even get lucky and find a hallmark on the silver. This is a small image used by the manufacturer to mark the piece. A quick online search should tell you who that manufacturer was, making your task much easier.

Silver Pattern

Of course, you can always take your piece to a silver professional. These experts will be able to help you quickly determine the value of your pieces.

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