When dealers see jewelry sell at the shop, often times they ponder, “Should I sell gold or silver?” The reason for this question is because they are in awe that something so small can command such a large price tag. My answer is always the same; “If you want to loose a lot of money really fast give it a try.” I do not claim to be an expert but I have had some excellent teachers over the years that have helped me understand the basics of Silver.
I’ll start by saying if you can find a reputable silver dealer to take you on as an “apprentice”, do it. Someone to whom you can ask questions, ask what they see when they look at a piece, and what formula they use to buy and to sell. This type of working knowledge is a thousand times better than book knowledge. Next know your marks or where to look them up. For example, American Silver marks must contain a minimum of 925 parts silver per 1000 parts of material. This ratio is called “sterling standard”. All new sterling items must contain this designation. American made items from 1860-1970 are marked sterling or sterling silver. Since 1973, almost all of that quality worldwide contains the 925 mark. English Hallmarks 1890-1999, are marked in four or five symbols:
Symbol for the town.
Symbol for the year.
Symbol that represents the silversmith
Symbol that represents the mark of silver content (a lion)
Profile of King or Queen. (Optional)
Are you confused yet? Because this is where it really gets complicated. The 5 warning signs of new or faked marks:
Any mark that is blurred or badly worn is suspicious. Marks should be in areas where normal wear would not occur. Make sure wear seems logical to the piece.
Any standard mark that includes 925 is suspicious. For example the 925 mark would not be seen on vintage American silver and not on English silver until the 1970’s.
Any mark that is exceptionally small for the piece.
Any mark applied by soldering on a tab or disk.
Any marks formed by casting and not stamping should be questioned. Stamped marks will appear cleaner and sharper.
I will again say I by no means claim to be an expert and to write this I used several websites for information. As you can see by this basic overview, silver buying and selling is a complicated endeavor. I wish you luck if you choose to give it a try. As for me I’ll stick to primitives.