Selling Scrap Silver

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Selling Scrap Silver
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Many people come across damaged silver items that they are interested in selling at "scrap price", but they just don't know how to sell it. There are many people who make a decent supplimental income by surfing flea markets and garage sales for silver scrap. The price of silver is determined by the NY "Spot Price" - the price that the metal is trading on the COMEX (Commidities Exchange) for on a particular day. Of course, that number changes day to day. Currently, silver is kind of high, but nothing like it was back 1980 when in one year, the Hunt Brothers cornered the silver market and drove the price up from $5 dollars an ounce to $49.95 an ounce in less than a year. As a jeweler who worked in silver back then, I cleaned out all my scrap silver at that price and amassed more than $900 dollars from just the scraps laying on my bench. FAR more than I paid for it. I stood in line and watched people "scrapping" their tableware, their grandmother's silver tea sets and many other items. MANY valuable antiques went into the melting pot back then - lost forever. Then came "Silver Thursday" when the price of silver dropped 50% in one day - from $21.62 to $10.80 in one day after the Hunt Brothers were unable to meet a margain call. Nelson Hunt declared bankruptcy and in 1988 was convicted on charges of conspiring to manipulate the market. Since the, the silver market has leveled off.

Silver is weighed in Troy ounces. There are 12 troy ounces to a pound - making that old question "which weighs more - a pound of gold or a pound of feathers?" seen in a whole different light. The answer, of course, is a pound of feathers.

Measuring in grams, as precious metal is for scrap purposes, one troy ounce is equal to 31.1034768 grams.

Of course, sterling silver is not pure silver. It is .925 silver with .075 base metal - usually copper. The standard formula for a scrapper to buy silver is to pay .830 times the spot price of silver on the day you sell. This is, of course, slightly less than .925, but it takes into account that a certain amount of silver is lost in the refining process.

Remember that even though something is stamped silver does not make it so. Silver stamps are available for sale at any jewelry supply house. I often say I could stamp a stick of butter 18k gold, but it doesn't make it true. The only way silver can be tested is with a silver test kit which involves using a specific acid solution to cause a reaction on the metal beneath the surface. If the silver tests at less than .925 - for instance .800, of course the price for scrapping it will be significantly less. A good testing kit for 10 - 24 k gold plus silver should run around $50 dollars, which is a good investment if you scrap a lot. A decent, accurate gram scale should run about the same. Both are worth it if you want to make sure you get a fair price.

Always do your homework before scrapping metal. It is easy to visit the COMEX site online and get the current price. Check with your dealer and make sure he is paying you the correct price. Also, if the item you are selling is jewelry, the stones are worth virtually nothing to a scrap dealer and he will just pay you for the weight as though they were metal. If you want the stones, take them out before you scrap. If you suspect the stones are valuable, it might be wiser to sell the item to a jeweler than to a scrapper.

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