Here’s a tip when you’re choosing where to sell your silverware in Houston. It’s got to say STERLING on the handles of everything. Seriously. EVERYTHING. If it doesn’t say sterling, it’s NOT sterling.
If it says “Silver Plate Company”, that’s NOT sterling silver. If it says “Onieda Silver Company”, that’s NOT sterling silver. It has literally got to say the word STERLING on it somewhere in order for it to be sterling. There are a few exceptions, the most common being sterling manufactured outside of the United States. But if it’s grandma’s silver and you got it from Woolworth’s back in the 50’s and you KNOW it’s sterling silver, but it doesn’t say STERLING, it’s probably not sterling.
In these cases, it’s usually silver plated. Plating is a process where the item to be plated is suspended in a bath of dissolved silver salts, then negatively charged, which in turn attracts the positively charged ions within the bath. This causes them to deposit on the surface of the item. The plated layer is very thin if the electrical charge is small, thicker if the electrical charge is larger. Once the item is run through a couple baths, it glistens like solid silver, but at a fraction of the cost.
This allows the manufacturer of the item to make them from non-precious metals (which is less expensive) and garner a higher profit margin. There is NO WAY to recover the silver from silver plating in an economically sustainable way unless there are pounds and pounds of the item. Therefore, there’s almost no market for silver plated items. Until the price of silver per ounce crosses the $50 mark, nobody will be interested in your silver plated items.
To figure out if you have real sterling silver, look on your silverware for the word STERLING. It’s almost always in capital letters on the back of the stem of each piece. Occasionally, the stainless steel blades of the knives will say “Sterling Handle” on them, but usually, it’s on the back of the stem of the forks and spoons. Don’t be fooled by Silver EP, which means silver electroplate, which we discussed above. Only the word STERLING means it’s sterling.
The knife handles of silverware are usually hollow. They are filled with resin, which is poured in while hot and then hardens to give weight to the handle without having to manufacture it in solid silver (which would be very expensive) So virtually every manufacturer makes the handles of all their knives hollow. The exception is tiny butter knives. Those are solid, but they’re very small, so it doesn’t cost a fortune to make those.
Because all of the value of the silver is in the weight, it doesn’t make any sense to polish it or worry about the condition. It simply gets weighed, we multiply the weight in grams by the value of silver at any given time on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and then we do the math. You don’t have to worry if a piece is missing, or if it’s scratched, or a spoon got dropped in the garbage disposal.
Silverware is 92.5% silver and the rest is mixture of copper. In some cases platinum or tin is used. This is because pure silver is very soft and would bend easily when used as a fork. Copper gives the silver enough strength to be used in a wide variety of applications and allows the silver to retain its precious metal appearance.
Remember, it’s al based on weight. There’s no penalty for poor appearance, unpolished silverware, or knicks or scratches. We’re not going to pay you more or less based on the looks of the silver. We’re paying you based on weight. And we can quote you over the phone for your silver ware before you decide to sell.
If you’d like to get a quote before you sell your silver ware in Houston, please call Houston Gold Merchants at 832 59 7225