SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Precious Metal dealers report a lot of people bringing in silver jewelry, coins and household objects, hoping to cash in on this year’s big rise in silver prices.
With the price of silver now back around $38 an ounce after last month’s record high of $48, there’s a little less incentive to sell. But, the precious metal is still more than twice what it was one year ago, so foraging through your jewelry box and cabinets could pay off.
Precious metal dealer Jacob Notowitz, of Numis International in Millbrae, told ConsumerWatch that just because something looks silver doesn’t mean it actually contains silver. He said a good place to start is by looking for a “hallmark” or stamp on the item.
“Almost every piece of jewelry that’s made of silver will say the word sterling or it will have the number .925,” signifying 92.5% silver in the piece, Notowitz said. “The most important thing is the percentage of the actual precious metal that is in the piece. That’s how we determine what the price is.”
Notowitz said silver coins minted in the United States prior to 1964 are also valuable. In fact, he said they’re among easiest form of silver to sell because they’re a known quantity and don’t need to be melted down.
“We have buckets of them,” Notowitz said.
Household items like silver trays, serving dishes and picture frames are trickier. Notowitz said, unless the piece is hallmarked, it could be silver plated, and not valuable. Dealers can perform a scratch test to verify if a piece is made of silver, but Notowitz warned it will damage the piece. He advised not allowing a dealer to perform the test until you are sure you are sure you’re ready to sell.
If you are ready to sell, Notowitz and other experts told ConsumerWatch there’s a formula that can help you figure out if you’re getting a good offer for your silver:
-Weigh your pieces and try to get an idea how much actual silver they contain, based on the percentage stamp.
-Multiply the amount of silver in your piece by that day’s spot price of silver.
Experts said a reasonable offer is about 50% to 75% of that amount.
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