Taking your silver in to be appraised requires some homework on your part if you want to get the best price. Here are some secrets of the trade that many silver appraisers won’t tell you.
While they may look the same, there is a difference between sterling silver, Britannia silver, and other types. Most silver utensils and other things for use around the house as well as jewelry are not pure silver. In fact, pure silver usually only comes in bars and is used in international trading or investing.
The reason pure silver is not used to create household items is because pure silver is soft enough that it would bend easily and quickly lose its ability to be used for anything. To strengthen it, the silver is mixed with other metals such as copper. The allows the metal to be shaped and gives it the strength to hold its shape during use.
The purity of the alloy varies, and as you can probably imagine, the purer the form of silver, the more it is worth. If you take some Britannia silver in - not knowing that it is Britannia - The appraiser may give you a price for sterling silver.
Silver plated pieces have value, too
If an appraiser tells you that your piece is only worth a few dollars because it is plated and not solid, you should get another opinion. The value of a given piece comes from a few factors, and one of them is the thickness of the plating. If your piece has plating that is twice as thick as others, it would stand to reason that it is worth more. After all, it has more silver in it.
Google a term such as “Antique silver buyers near me” and go find another appraiser. Remember, you don’t have to settle for the first offer, and it is a prudent thing to obtain multiple valuations anyway. You may spend a few dollars more in appraisal fees, but if the end result is a several hundred dollar increase in the price you sell it, you come out far ahead of the game.
Some appraisers are influenced by their own bias
Appraisers are people too. This means that they can be - and often are - influenced by things such as whether they personally like the look of a certain piece of silver jewelry. This can be completely unintentional: an appraiser may truly believe he or she is giving you an honest appraisal, but it may be lower (or higher) than it should be just because he or she dislikes (or likes) the way a piece looks.
For this reason, and others, it’s always a good idea to get no fewer than three appraisals. That way you can identify one that seems to be an outlier and either reject any offers in that range or snap them up if they are higher than the other appraisals. So, take your time, get multiple appraisals, and then decide what you want to do.