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What to Know when Selling Silver and Silver Plate

April 13, 2012

Silver Plate PlatterThe price of precious metal commodities has been going up for the last several years, ever since the economy took a nosedive with the bursting of the housing bubble. Gold gets the most press, but silver is extremely valuable, too. In fact, scrap silver prices continue to rise. With that increase comes a rise in demand. More and more people are snapping up any silver they can find at bargain prices, at thrift stores and yard sales, to resell on the scrap metals market. Sending your old jewelry, coins, and silverware to Cash for Silver USA could land you a big payday!

 

Those bargains are getting harder to find, and sellers are becoming more knowledgeable about the value of their goods. The demand has caused a reduced supply, further driving up prices. Much of what is available now is not fully silver, but silver-plated and even that is going up in value due to the rise in copper prices.

 

So how does copper affect silver-plate? Well, silver-plate is typically made from a copper alloy. Surprising, I know! You must be thinking, “Why then does it often look white in color?” That’s because silver-plate can also be made from a nickel alloy base. So silver-plate is made either from a nickel or copper mix, from two extremely valuable metals to scrap metals recyclers.

 

Because there are several different types of silver-plate, it is necessary for anyone buying silver or silver-plate to resell in the metals market to do their homework. Different mixture bases include pure copper, copper/zinc brass, cupronickel, German silver, and pure nickel. A silver-plated item with a pure copper base is the easiest to spot. Just file a spot on it, and the burnt orange color will shine through. Plated silverware is usually not made from a pure copper base, because the metal is too malleable on its own to be durable. Copper/zinc brass is the commonplace yellow metal you often find in lamps.

 

An alloy of copper and nickel, Cupronickel is German for “copper nickel” and comes in many different mix ratios. A 30/70 ratio, 30% copper to 70% nickel, is the most valuable alloy mix, but it is rarely used for silverware. A ratio of 70/30 is commonly found as a silverware base. The least valuable mix is 90/10.

 

An uglier version of cupronickel, German Silver contains copper, nickel, and zinc typically in a mixture ration of 60/20/20. This type of silver-plate should fetch at least brass price, but it can be hard to distinguish from regular cast zinc. The telltale sign to look for is green oxidization, which signals the presence of copper. If the metal is white with green oxidation, then it is a nickel copper alloy. In rare use in contemporary manufacturing, pure nickel is most commonly found in antiques, like vintage silver spoons.

 

So be on the lookout for valuable silver and silver-plated utensils and coins. Sell your silver to Cash for Silver USA and rest assured that you are getting the highest payout on the market. Satisfaction guaranteed!


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