The first thing to check when buying or selling collectible 925 (sterling) silver jewelry, coins, bars, or even flatware is how much is 925 silver worth. You will find various values, depending on many factors, including the item type, the manufacturer, and the way of buying or selling.
Then, you will discover the variation in prices between pure silver worth approximately $26 per troy ounce and less valuable 925 silver that costs about $24 per troy ounce. The difference in prices appears because sterling silver contains only 92.5% silver. So, let’s take a closer look at the subject.
Pure Silver vs. Sterling Silver
Silver is the element with the symbol Ag in the periodic table. Pure (fine) silver contains 99.9% pure elemental silver with 0.01% trace elements. Therefore, you will see markings .999, 999, or 99.9 stamped in the metal, indicating the 99.9% silver.
Unfortunately, this precious metal is quite soft, so it is not easy to shape it as desired. Therefore, it can be tricky to use silver for designing specific shapes or making any possible item for daily use.
These regular items quickly lose their shape, tarnish, and fade, so no one uses pure silver for this purpose. Since it reacts with the gasses from the air, you will notice a dark, dirty-like layer on the surface of the silver product after a while.
You can find only fine, primarily antique jewelry created of such a pure metal in most cases.
Sterling silver is basically an alloy of this precious metal. In other words, your jewelry made of sterling silver contains only 92.5% silver, while the rest of 7.5% is some other metal, most often copper, zinc, or nickel.
When you find a stamp .925, 925, 92.5, or sometimes SS, you can be sure that you have a piece made of sterling silver.
Added metals make silver becomes more durable and significantly stronger, so you can see many items made of this alloy, including:
- Coffee sets
- Platters and plates
- Silver-plated items
As you can see, the list of items made of sterling silver is impressive and significantly longer than the one for fine silver.
Be careful when buying silver items to avoid fraud. Unlike pieces made of sterling silver, silver-plated ones are created of some inexpensive metal coated with a thin layer of sterling silver.
There is one more significant difference between pure silver and sterling silver. While pure silver tarnishes quickly because of chemical reactions with gasses from the air, sterling silver will change its color much slower.
How Much Is 925 Silver Worth?
First of all, you need to know that the standard measurements of silver are troy ounces and grams. Even though you will often find only the term ‘ounce,’ you should know that it is not an imperial (avoirdupois) ounce you use for measuring everyday objects and goods.
These two are not the same, even though the difference in their values is negligible.
One troy ounce equals 31.1 g
One avoirdupois ounce equals 28.35 g
Sterling silver price
Sterling silver value varies from a couple of dollars to a few hundreds of dollars, depending on the item you want to buy or sell. It contains 92.5% silver, so you can expect to get a fair price determined on the day of trade.
Be aware that that value changes several times a day, so you should use one of the calculators available online to get the precise number. You can also sell scrap silver, which price is calculated according to a different system.
The situation with 925 silver pieces and antique jewelry is entirely different since you also need to count on an adequate amount of money for finely crafted, luxury, and collectible items, like:
- International coins
- Jewelry, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings
- Picture frames
- Tableware like serving trays, cutlery, and napkin rings
Their price will directly depend on a few factors, such as:
- Weight and the current price of the silver
- Age and design of a particular piece
- Added stones or other metals
- If you sell one item or a set
Scrap sterling silver price
Basically, there are no differences between the silver bar or scrap silver of the same purity. Like many other metals, sterling silver is also scrapable, and you can sell it at any time.
The first thing is to find a trustworthy dealer, and then you need to determine the payment per troy ounce or gram. In specific cases, you can get an offer for your piece per ounce, baht, tola, or bori, but it primarily depends on the country you are located in at that moment or the market where you plan to sell your silver.
In such a case, you need to calculate units precisely.
1 ounce = 0.91 troy ounces = 28.35 grams
Another thing you need to have on your mind is that the silver value fluctuates daily, so you should check the current price before trading, particularly when you plan to sell a more significant amount of this precious metal. The variations can be considerable even during one day.
Finally, you need to remember that the item weight is not equal to the amount of silver it contains. As I have already mentioned, sterling silver contains 92.5% silver, so that you can count on only 92.5% of the offered silver spot price.
Plus, you need to be aware of the dealer’s fee. It will vary and can be only 2% for a large transaction and up to 20% for a small transaction.
Let’s Do the Math
As mentioned, sterling silver contains 92.5% pure silver. When you have a piece of jewelry made of this precious metal, you need to calculate the precise amount of silver it consists of and the price you can expect to get when selling it.
If you have sterling silver jewelry weighing 26 g (0.8359 troy ounces) and know that the current price is $24.26 per troy ounce, you can estimate its value by using a simple formula:
jewelry weight in troy ounces x sterling silver cost per troy ounce x 0.925
In this particular case, it will be:
0.8359 troy ounces x $24.26 x 0.925 = $18.7580
As you can see, the value of this particular sterling silver piece of jewelry is $18.75 on the current silver market. However, its price can be even higher when the manufacturer is famous, jewelry is antique, or has an artistic value.
It is crucial to check sterling silver before buying it to ensure it contains a guaranteed 92.5% silver. Keep in mind that you can quickly make a mistake and get stuck with a silver-plated item instead of the right thing.
That makes tests for authenticity so vital. There are the most common ones:
- Markings – The first thing to look for is the sterling silver, ster, or a 925 stamp at some discreet place. Most jewelers and manufacturers use the inside surface of the ring, the large spoon’s back side, or the necklace buckle for that purpose.
- Smell – When you smell real sterling silver, you won’t feel a strong scent like in other metals with a typical metallic odor.
- Magnet – Since silver is not magnetic, a magnet can’t attract it. If it happens, you have a silver-plated piece.
- Wiping – Silver oxidizes in contact with air. If you notice a black mark on a soft, light-colored cloth you use to wipe silver lightly, it is a sign that you have real silver.
- Nitric acid – It is the test most jewelers use. This acid doesn’t affect sterling silver, and it won’t change its color after application. Fake silver will turn green in contact with nitric acid.
Whether you want to sell your sterling silver or buy it, you should carefully check its authenticity and current price. Your goal should be to achieve the best possible price. Therefore, you need to calculate precise weight, the current sterling silver value per ounce or gram, and add the specific advantage of collectible and antique pieces.