Are you planning on building a scrap silver business? Or, is silver hunting just a hobby for you? Whatever be your reasons, if you’re interested in finding silver, you’re at the right place!
Here, we’ll share 8 places where you can find silver. And, we wouldn’t want to spend money on or collect items that aren’t even silver, would we? So, we’ve included 8 identification methods too! Let’s get started!
How Is Silver Found in Nature?
Though widely distributed in nature, the total silver amount is still quite less when compared to other metals prevalent on Earth today.
Mostly, silver is found in alloys, amalgams, or as a constituent in other mineral metals and ores. They are often found in copper, lead, and cobalt arsenide ores and are found to be associated with gold.
Thus most of the silver circulating today are simply the by-product of copper, lead, and zinc mining, which are then recovered and refined for commercialization.
Where to Find Silver?
Now let’s get to the real question – where to find silver? Well, we’ve prepared a detailed list for you. Here are a few places where you will most likely find silver.
First and foremost, look through your pocket changes and piggie banks. Pre-1964 U.S. dimes, quarters, and half dollars are 90% silvers. Though they have been pulled out of circulation over the years, there’re still chances you might get your hands on them.
Likewise, half dollars coins from 1965-1970 are 40% silver. If you see letters P, D, or S above Monticello on the reverse of nickels from 1942-1945, those are war nickels and contain 35% silver.
2. Pins, medals, and other household items:
Start searching your house for pins, medals, awards, or silverware items. Look for labels “925”, “Sterling”, “925/1000”, or any other silver hallmarks.
The next easy way to hunt for silver coins is to buy rolls of change from a bank. As the 50 cent pieces are big, heavy, and take up space, bank tellers are less likely to deny your request.
However, it mostly depends on your luck as some banks do not allow you that service if you don’t have an account.
And, if possible, check the dates. Though it takes a bit more time, it will be worth your while. Likewise, if the rolls look old and have handwritten writings, they are highly likely to contain silver coins.
Do you have a bunch of old and damaged electronics at your home? If yes, well, it’s time to unleash the engineer in you! The best thing is that you will be able to find silver in almost any electronics that we use today.
Get your tools ready and start by opening the electronics. Look for circuit boards in the form of silver contact boxes. These are hard plastic boxes, generally black or white in color and contains silver dots inside.
Moreover, you can also find silver inside buttons, on-off switches, knobs, or almost anything that clicks on electronic devices.
5. Flea market, yard sales, goodwills, or estate sales:
If you have a flea market, yard sales, garage sales, goodwills, or estate sales happening nearby, get ready to bring out the silver lover in you! Many of these sales are likely to feature antique items.
However, to make sure you don’t miss out on good silver pieces, learn the authentication marks that are encoded in real silver, even the international ones.
6. Pawnshops and thrift stores:
Sometimes, if the thrift stores and pawnshops are not quite into silver items, you might be able to bag pretty good deals.
7. Coinstar reject slots:
Be it your grocery store or a Walmart, make sure you check Coinstar reject slots. Silver coins being heavier than regular ones, are often rejected.
8. Public places:
Hunting silver in public places such as churches, parks, and sidewalks using a metal detector is so much fun! And not to mention, you’re likely to find silver coins, rings, and other abandoned silver items if luck is on your side. We’d say – start with the beaches!
How to Identify Silver?
Suppose you found out a yard sale is happening nearby. You don’t want to spend your heavy bucks on items that look like silver only to find out they’re not, do you? Needless to say, before you spend your time and effort in finding silver, you must know how to identify them.
Here’re a few ways to identify whether the item that has caught your eyes in the sale is silver. Remember that some of these test results can vary with individual perception, for instance, the sound test and the order test. Thus, some of these methods are not 100% reliable.
So, we’d recommend you to perform as many tests as you can until you’re sure that the item is silver. Let’s review these identification techniques one by one!
1. Know silver authentication hallmarks:
The more you learn about silver authentication hallmarks, the more likely you are to find silver and the less likely you are to return home with simply silver-plated items, or worse, other cheap metal pieces.
Learn as much as you can, not only about the marks you find on U.S. silver pieces but also on European pieces as well. Sometimes you might be holding a precious European silver or even gold, if you’re lucky enough, watch, yet you might fail to recognize them.
For example, Germany uses ‘Crescent and crown’ marks on their silver and ‘Sun and crown’ marks on their golds. And the purities used are 800, 830, 835, 900, 925, and 935.
2. Metal detectors:
If you’re into a serious scrap metal business, a metal detector is a must-have! However, if collecting silver is just your hobby, you might find buying a metal detector a little too expensive.
Nevertheless, if you love the idea of scouring places in search of silver, a metal detector will surely come in handy. These detectors are also able to detect gold and even platinum items.
Moreover, you don’t have to aim for high-end metal detectors. Cheap meal detectors, though they might not be able to detect deeply buried metals, are equally good when it comes to finding metals slightly buried in soft grounds or sand.
3. Sound test:
Silver conducts more sound comparatively. So, try dropping your silver rings and coins and listen for a ringing sound.
To be able to master this test, you might need a bit of practice. So, try dropping or tapping your silver items and compare the sound with the things you know for sure are not silver.
An easy way to practice is to take a roll of non-silver coins with one or two silver coins. Then, drop the coins one by one and train your ears to listen to the ringing sound a silver coin makes.
4. Magnet test:
Whenever you’re going for thrift sales, yard sales, or any place you hope to find silver pieces, make sure you carry a magnet with you.
Silver is a para-magnetic metal and only shows weak magnetic effects. So, if there is no magnetic attraction or the items don’t move when you hover a strong magnet on top, they are probably made up of silver.
5. Bleach test:
Put a drop of bleach on the probable silver piece and look for the color change. If you notice that the silver has tarnished and turned black, congratulations – you have found yourself silver! Bleach rapidly oxidizes silver that it is in contact with, thus the tarnish.
Remember that silver plated items easily pass this test. So, if possible, make a small scratch on the item and then drop the bleach for accurate analysis.
6. Odor test:
Have you ever noticed the tangy odor that most metals have? Well, silver doesn’t impart such a strong odor. So, always take a whiff of the silver you’re considering buying. If the smell is too metallic, it’s probably an alloy or any other metals, not silver.
7. Silver testing acid kit:
You can find a commercial silver testing kit if you want an accurate analysis. Generally, these are a mixture of acids; hydrochloric and nitric acid, known as aquaragia. Though famous as non-reactive precious metals – gold and silver are known to react with this acid mixture.
Each kit comes with an identification color scale. Typically, if the solution turns red, the item under examination is sterling silver.
8. Flake test:
This test is not to identify real silver but silver-plated items. Scratch the item with your nail, and if you notice a different material underneath, they are probably silver-coated and not real silver.
By now, you know all the best places to look for silver, don’t you? What’s more, you even know the proper silver identification techniques!
With all this information, we believe you can find pretty good silver deals whenever you’re in any sales or thrift stores. And if you’re fortuitous enough, you may find a few pieces in your household and public places as well.
We wish you all the best!