I have a 20 year old collection of sterling silver tableware including flatware, cups, plates, trays, candlesticks, vases — anything you can imagine, all stripped & cleaned. I have about 1050 troy ounces of items and want to know the best place to sell silver. Thanks from Betty in Richmond, Virginia

Hi Betty,

That sounds like quite a collection of sterling silver you have! With so many pieces, it will be important to consider your options.

If you do not want to deal with the hassle of separating and selling in groups or piece by piece, you could send it all in to a refinery like us. We will run analytical testing on your materials and send back pieces if we find they are not sterling.  Assuming all of the pieces were .925 sterling silver is typically .925 silver and using a spot price of silver at $18 per troy ounce, your 1050 troy ounces would have a market value of approximately  $17,500. However, items such as candlesticks and knife handles are often weighted with other materials that contribute to the weight of the item, but contain no silver.  As such, this estimate is probably a best case scenario.

You should also consider that a silver refiner only pays on the silver content in items.  Refiners do not consider the collection value, condition or design.  Therefore, you’ll need to consider if the market value of an item is going to be more than its melt value and whether it is worth the time and effort to try to find a buyer for the item.

Here are some tips that we recommend for people with large collections of sterling silver tableware:

  1. Separate all the pieces that are marked sterling silver from the pieces that are not marked. For the items that are not marked, you may want to do a few tests on those to find if they are in fact sterling. A magnet test is the easiest, if any of your unmarked pieces stick to a magnet they are not sterling.
  2. Determine if some of your pieces could be weighted with another material. Wax, cement or lead is often added to items such as candlesticks to help stabilize the items. As a result, they are not 100% sterling silver materials. Other weighted items include candelabras and salt and pepper shakers. Also, many knife blades are stainless steel as sterling silver is too soft to function as a cutting device. Here is a silver refining video where you can see a candlestick and knife taken apart to expose filled and hollow centers.  To reduce shipping costs, it is ideal to try to remove the weighting materials if you know you are going to send the item in to be melted.
  3. If you know that any of your pieces are antiques and in good condition, they could have collection value that is more than the silver content value. You may find that you can make more on these items by selling them on eBay, Craigslist or even to a local jeweler or antique shop.

Unmatched collections, broken pieces and outdated styles of sterling silver are typically ideal for refining as they have very little market value. Many people also send items in great condition to us simply because they don’t want to deal with the hassles of trying to sell the items themselves.  We typically pay 75% of the fine silver value by weight and welcome you to use our free silver value calculator to help guide you in your decision making.

Good luck with your collection and let us know if you need any more refining information.