September 11, 2023

There’s a growing generation gap out there when it comes to family heirlooms. Increasingly, Millennials and Gen Xers are showing that they’re not that enthusiastic about taking their parents’ stuff. In many families, it can be a point of contention as the older generation prepares their wills, gives certain belongings as gifts, or downsizes as they move out of their homes and into more accessible condos or senior living residences.

As some downsizing experts have noted, generations whose parents are now passing along their belongings are less motivated by physical possessions, or at least not by accumulating more and more of them. Part of it comes from the increased role of technology in their lives; they don’t need to haul around heavy photo albums because they have every photo they’ve taken in the last 10 years stored in the cloud.

Many younger generations also just have less space. As housing costs have risen, they’re less likely to have all of the room that their parents are used to. They don’t have the dining room hutch for displaying and storing their silver flatware, and they don’t have the time in their busy lives to polish silver platters and tea sets.

It’s Okay to Sell the Silver Heirlooms: Silver Is a Great Financial Gift

The best solution for unwanted jewellery and heirlooms is to sell it to a silver buyer. One of the reasons silver is so popular in family heirlooms is that it’s a precious metal with long-lasting value. Usually, consumer goods depreciate in value. The more they get used, the less anyone else is willing to pay for them. There are some exceptions when it comes to well-maintained antiques, but even the antique furniture market has fallen far from what it used to be, with prices collapsing as younger generations lost interest.

But silver is different. Silver is a precious metal, and in addition to being used in jewellery, heirlooms, and industrial uses, it’s also a popular investment vehicle. Objects made from silver will always have value, thanks to their silver contents. That’s what differentiates objects like silver platters, candelabras, mirrors, tea sets, flatware, holloware, and jewellery from junk you’d find at the flea market.

You will always find Toronto silver buyers willing to pay competitive prices for silver. Silver heirlooms make a great gift because it’s so easy to get a fair price for them. Silver has a long history of maintaining its value over protracted periods of time, even when other assets take a bit.

What Happens to Silver When You Sell?

Responsibly selling silver jewellery means knowing what’s likely to happen to it after it leaves your hands. Most of the time, silver items like jewellery or flatware will be melted down and recycled. The recycled silver is then sold and reused, potentially to make new jewellery, coins, bars, or in industrial applications.

Sellers earn some extra money from selling their silver, and recycling silver helps cut down on mining activities. However, some sellers want their heirlooms to go to someone who will cherish them as is, even if they don’t want to keep them themselves. That may mean selling it at a discount online or at a flea market, but that’s not necessarily the case if you have valuable vintage or antique silver.

Now, if you believe that you have a true antique on your hands, selling it to a silver buyer only to have it melted down and refined again seems like a waste. That’s why it’s so important to avoid shady jewellery buyers and talk to buyers who understand the collectibles market.

Molten metal in the midst of the recycling process

Vintage and Antique Silver: Finding the Right Buyer

When you’re selling family heirlooms, the last thing you want to do is part with something without fully understanding its value. There is still a collector’s market out there for silver tea services and decorative objects made from silver, especially vintage and antique pieces. Certain styles, manufacturers, origins, and pieces from a certain period have a lot of interest from collectors.

If you have an older piece of silver, the first thing to recognize is that there are two different silver markets. First, there’s the bullion market, where silver is valuable because of its inherent value. It’s a precious metal that requires a lot of investment and effort to extract from the ground, and it can be recycled and used for a number of things. In this market, only two things matter: the weight of the item and what percentage of the object is silver rather than other metals. Demand for silver is steady because it’s widely useable.

While the silver content is important on the collector’s market, a piece is only as valuable as the price someone else is willing to pay for it. A piece needs to be interesting enough to attract a collector’s interest. There are several factors at play here, including:

  • Design
  • Condition
  • Age
  • Manufacturer
  • Origin

There is a great deal of information online when it comes to silver antiques. A great place to start is our guide on decoding silver hallmarks. The hallmark is a stamp on a piece of silver, usually found on the bottom or in an inconspicuous place, which will tell you the purity of the silver used in making the piece, and it may include a maker’s mark that will tell you the manufacturer and country (or even town) of origin.

Hallmarks have been used for over 700 years, and they originated as a kind of consumer protection. The hallmark is one of the first things you should look for before you sell a silver heirloom.

The maker and origin can make a major difference in how sought-after a piece is. For example, Old Sheffield Plate from the 18th century does not have the highest silver content – in fact, providing cheaper silverware and holloware was the point – but it remains popular with collectors because it was such an important and innovative development in industrial and design history.

Find Experts in the Silver Collector’s Market

You don’t need to become an expert in silver antiques yourself to get the appropriate value for your family heirlooms. At Muzeum, inspecting silver items carefully to see if they would have a higher value on the collector’s market is part of what we do. We take pride in offering the best possible prices for the silver people bring to us. Not only does that mean offering competitive prices based on spot prices, but it also means knowing what collectors are looking for and how to connect with them.

In addition to buying gold and silver jewellery, coins, flatware, and other heirlooms,  we are also the storefront location of the Great Canadian Roadshow, where we bought all kinds of collectibles, heirlooms, and antiques. We stay connected with collectors of the old and unusual, and we provide free evaluations for gold and silver heirlooms. We can help you determine whether the piece has collectible value and offer a better price for it.

An assortment of silver jewellery

What You Need to Know Before Your Sell Silver Heirlooms

Before parting with a family heirloom or silver collection, make sure you have all of the information. These are the most important things you should learn about your silver and the buyer before you trade it in.

#1 What Percent of the Item Is Silver?

The first thing you should find out is the silver purity of each individual item you plan on selling. Most silver pieces, including jewellery, will have this stamped somewhere on the piece itself. Usually, this will be present on the item as a number, such as 999, as in 999 parts per 1000. This means that the piece is 99.9% silver. You may also see the stamp Sterling, which is 92.5% silver.

You can also get the purity of the item confirmed by a trusted silver buyer who offers a free evaluation before making an offer. Make sure they evaluate each item individually. We use XRF machine technology to determine the precise metal breakdown of each item without causing any damage to the piece, which can happen when you use an acid-based test.

#2 How Much Does the Object Weigh?

If you happen to have a scale on hand, you can also weigh the piece in advance. When you do so, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. For the most part, jewellery, flatware, holloware, and decorative pieces are usually weighed in grams.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a scale. Take your silver to multiple buyers, where it will be evaluated and weighed.

#3 What Will Silver Buyers Pay?

The final step in finding the silver buyer is getting some quotes. There is not necessarily a market standard for what buyers are willing to pay. It makes sense to get several quotes from various different silver buyers, especially if you have the luxury of time.

At Muzeum, we post our going rates online and update them to reflect trading prices. We’re confident you won’t find better prices for precious metals. Plus, we can also help you with rare and collectible items that can be worth more than the value of their precious metals content alone.

#4 Learn the Name of the Manufacturer and Designer

If you can find out who made the piece, you can do some digging online to see if it may have any collectible value. Certain names tend to attract more interest than others.

Silver heirlooms can take up a lot of space or be hard to properly store and maintain. If you’ve decided that holding onto silver heirlooms isn’t the right option, they can be a source of extra income if you go to the right buyer.

When you sell silver heirlooms, you want to be confident that you’re getting the best price for them. The best way to make sure that you’re fairly compensated for your silver is to take it to a trustworthy silver buyer. Find out how much silver you have, see if you can identify the hallmark to find out the manufacturer or where the piece was made, and be sure to get pieces individually priced. Get your silver heirlooms evaluated at Muzeum.

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