Q:

How do you appraise the value of sterling silver items?

A:

Quick Answer

An ideal way of appraising the value of sterling silver items is to have it appraised by a professionally certified appraiser. The appraiser must be recognized formally by associations, both international and national, including the International Society of Appraisers and the Appraisers Association of America.

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Full Answer

It is always advisable to have a professional appraisal, but the approximate value of sterling silver can be appraised by nonprofessionals also by replicating the steps performed by professionals. The first step is to research the history of the item to determine its age. Items older than a couple of centuries do not have any markings, while others have an inscription, number or hallmark to indicate if the item is sterling silver. Typical markings include .925, sterling or 925/100, indicating that the item is 92.5 percent silver.

Then, identify the maker and pattern by examining the item for manufacturer hallmarks. Books that can help you do this include "Warman's Sterling Silver Flatware" by Mark F. Moran, "The Price Guide to Antique Silver" by Peter Waldron and "An Illustrated Dictionary of Silverware" by Harold Newman. Patterns can also be researched on websites including Replacements.com. If the item is an antique, it may sell for more than the value of the silver within.

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