Updated: May 23, 2020
Be it your father’s coin collection, your mother's estate jewelry, or your grandparents’ silverware, when it comes to selling silver and gold, a little knowledge and a basic understanding of the market can go a long way. And yes, it’s a bit volatile right now, but if you find yourself needing some quick cash, a crash course is in order, so here goes.
First, find out today's spot price. The spot price is what the particular metal is trading for in ounces. This information can easily be found on the Internet or the market section of the newspaper. Second, find out how much metal you have in troy ounces or grams.
(Precious metals should always be in the Troy system. In the Troy system an ounce is 31.1 grams. When you see dealers report a spot price, that is for 1 troy ounce of silver or gold.)
A basic postal scale will assist you.
Third, and a very important step, is know what percentage of the metal is in there. A little algebra here, but I'll walk you through it.
Sterling is .925, meaning it has a content of 92.5 percent of silver. 14K gold is .585 or 58.5 percent gold. 18K gold is .750 or 75 percent gold. Example: You have a set of sterling silver spoons that weigh 20 ounces. Today's spot price is $15.95 per ounce. So, 20 ounces times $15.95 equals 319. Times that by .925 and you have $295.07 of silver value.
Now you are armed with some knowledge as you head to the nearest, “We Buy Gold & Silver” place and you ask, “How much?” They come back with $150, and you are shocked and appalled. Don't be. Here's the fourth thing you need to know: They are in business to make money. Don't be mad…shop around. If you ask three, you will most likely get three different prices, and that is fine.
The fifth thing you should know: a name can be everything. Is your silver or jewelry, for that fact, Tiffany, Cartier, Buccellati, Russian or even a rare pattern? These can significantly add to value, and you can bet no one is going to tell you that. I find auctioning these type of select items will allow the fair market to decide that potential added value. A set of Buccellati spoons weighing about 20 ounces can sell at auction for over $2,000. Today, most buyers would give you $250 for the silver content.