Guide to Buying Precious Metals: Silver

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Guide to Buying Precious Metals: Silver

Buyers have a choice when it comes to buying precious metals. Gold, silver, and platinum all gleam, but there are good reasons to choose silver. It's the least scarce and the least costly of these metals, and is used to create jewellery, coins, flatware, and decorative objects for the home, which means it serves a practical purpose in addition to being a good investment. Silver has been used for centuries, and buyers will find antique, vintage, and modern silver available for purchase.


Types of Silver

eBay carries silver in all its forms. Before buying, it's important to learn about the different types of silver. Not all objects with "silver" in their names have value; some don't even contain silver.

Always examine the markings on a silvery object. Silver-plated objects have a very thin coating of silver over a base metal. These objects can be beautiful and decorative, but they don't have any investment value. Some silver-plated objects are marked "EPC" (electroplated copper) or "EPNS" (electroplated nickel silver).

Sterling silver is an alloy containing 92.5 percent silver. Objects made of sterling are valuable because of their metal content and are marked "Sterling" or "925." Older, antique silver items may feature the maker's hallmark. These hallmarks can be used to determine where and when the piece was made. Some of these older pieces have more value due to their history than their silver content.

Some heavy silver pieces, like candlesticks, may be marked as weighted sterling or cemented sterling. These pieces are made of sterling, but are made stable by layering sterling over cement or another heavy support. Although weighted sterling objects are still valuable for their silver, they generally contain only a small fraction of their weight in precious metal.

Other silver marks buyers may see include "German silver" or "nickel silver." These items are silver coloured, but don't contain any silver. "Mexican silver," however, is silver with a metal content as high or higher than that of sterling.

Silver coins that were minted for collectors or as bullion will be marked ".999 fine silver". Historical coins that contain silver will most likely not have any markings.


Silver Jewellery

Silver jewellery comes in many forms. You can find rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. A variety of silver jewellery is available on eBay.

You'll find modern pieces and vintage jewellery by designers like Georg Jensen, whose distinctive work from the early 1900s has an oxidized and pebbled surface. Older Victorian work includes items such as bird-shaped pins. Traditional silver designs by Native Americans from the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni tribes are available, including modern Native American silver work created for tourists.

After purchasing an item, be sure to take proper care of silver jewellery so it can be worn with joy for years.

Flatware, Candlesticks, and other Household Products

You can furnish your home with decorative and useful silver products, like candlesticks, flatware, and coffee and tea sets, and many other silver serving dishes.

Antique silver candlesticks and coffee/tea sets can be quite valuable depending on their design and maker. Many household items are made of silver plate, not sterling. Sterling will last indefinitely, while silver plate will last about 20 years. You can put silver in the dishwasher, although hand washing is preferred.


Silver Coins

Back in the old days, coins derived their value solely from their metal content. Old coins can have significant silver in them, making the coins worth more than their face value. Because these coins usually do not have their silver content marked on them, it's necessary to consult online or hard copy references to determine the metal value of an old coin.

Most modern silver coins are minted as collector items or as bullion, meaning they're not intended to circulate as regular money. Standard modern silver coins have a weight of one ounce. Buyers can choose Australian silver coins,like the kookaburra and crocodile coins, and silver coins from other countries, including the United States and South Africa.

Grading services evaluate coins and rate them according to their condition. Graded coins often have more value than ungraded coins of the same weight and year. Proof coins are made with specially treated dies and are intended for collectors. Uncirculated coins are coins that have not been used in commerce and don't show any wear at all. The grading scale continues from Extremely Fine (sometime called Extra Fine) down through the lowest level of quality: Poor. Be sure you understand the grading scale before investing in silver coins.

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