Is a silver tea service generally more valuable than the silver content? From Heidi in Central Missouri.

Hi Heidi,

There is not an easy yes or no answer to this question. There are many factors that you need to consider if you are thinking of reselling silver tea service such as the condition, completeness, brand, quality and collectability. As refiners, we only take into account the market price of silver and the fine silver content by weight.

Given this, pieces that are broken or damaged are ideal for refining. We are also sent lot of mismatched sets and random silverware that do not go with a larger collection. If you have any of these items, selling for the silver content would probably be your best way to go.

If you have a branded, complete set that is in good condition, you might want to have it appraised by an antique dealer and sell it to them or consider selling on eBay or Craigslist.  Of course, an antique dealer or Pawn shop will probably offer you a fraction of its market value as they need to sell it at market price and make a profit and eBay and Craigslist have drawbacks as well.

Also, the price of silver changes daily. In the past 52 weeks the silver price has fluctuated between $13.27 USD and $19.80 USD. When selling to a refiner, we would recommend keeping an eye on the price of silver and knowing their turnaround time. Here are a few blog posts that deal with sterling silver that might be helpful:

Silver Cookware and Serving Pieces
What Do All These Markings Mean on My Silverware
Refining Silver Flatware and Tableware

If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can evaluate the many options you have and see where you think that you will get the best return.  You can estimate the silver value by using our silver value calculator.