To Silver or not to Silver….


You: “So you would like to sell this Tiffany™ Silver necklace & bean. I can give you $25.”

Customer: “….but this silver bean was $250 and I just bought it six months ago in Vegas with my now exboyfriend at Tiffany’s in Caesars Forum Shops….”
Have you had a conversation like the one above? Is it the reason you don’t buy silver? Or maybe it’s one of the reasons below…

    • You don’t want to “offend” your customers knowing silver quotes are low
    • Not sure what to pay for silver? How do I buy it right ?
    • Is it sterling and if so will it run actual 92.5 or will it run less – more like 90% or 89%
    • What about knife handles and blades and candle stick holders, how do I account for extra weight ?
    • How do I ship it ? It’s going to be heavy as heck and probably be expensive ?

Silver is great but it can be tough, as a rule of thumb. Silver is good for the jewelers and pawnbrokers both buying and selling (we’ll get into that in a minute actually).  As a side note, Mexican silver is known to be under karated, which you know, so be careful to not over pay or use 80% as a starting basis. There is silver that is 40%, 80%, 90% and pure. I’ve had clients ship me silver contacts that can run from 40% -80% or higher so if something unusual like silver contacts come across the counter it’s best to talk with your refiner because there are going to be charges and rates that may differ from standard high grade silver terms. I would also suggest taking photos of materials ( to text or email to your refiner for discussion ) and asking your customer if you can send a sample when applicable. We will always be happy to x-ray, melt and x-ray a sample and even melt and fire assay for our clients. 

It never hurts to ASK your customers at the counter if they have flatware or old broken/unused silver. I would advise to just mention silver and have a sign or two around your shop. Some, if not most, customers may not even know you take it in (oftentimes depending on your name) BIG X GUN AND PAWN, for example. YOu may even want to consider running a contest for your employees for a gift certificate, cash, or something fun to get them motivated to talk about it. Silver is a great tool to bring people in and sometimes leads to a sale if the customer can’t afford gold or doesn’t wish to spend money for gold. You should also consider having silver bullion on hand; people like to buy pure silver and there is small margin that adds up… Having silver bullion on hand can also simply bring customers back in the shop knowing you have it. Silver doesn’t eat up a lot of working capital; that’s one of the great things about it. I do have quite a few clients that don’t fool with it; and I get it. It’s got to be right for you and your business, ultimately.

With regards to flatware and other weighted objects, always make sure you account for stainless blades, cement/sand and even lead in the knife handles when figuring pure metal contained and value on the materials. Make sure silver is always marked 925 or STERLING. Yes, you still have to be careful with “fakes”. Don’t be afraid to bend a spoon or smell a fork (for iron, not for steak ). A knife may weigh 2-3 toz but only contain 15-18 grams of Sterling silver per knife. We at GEIB bake the knives so they’re brittle and by hand, we pound the “excess” out so only clean Sterling silver metal goes into the crucibles to get a good clean homogenous melt and assay. It’s less hassle for the refiner and better for our clientele.

Some refiners will put knives into the melt and rake out the Stainless…. We feel the way we process is best for both parties. It’s more work but that’s how we roll. Happy Client, Happy Life.

Shipping silver in large quantities is easy. It can be shipped Fedex or UPS Ground for next to nothing. Double-box and securely seal when shipping silver because of the weight or ask your refiner to supply buckets to ship your materials back. We also take smaller quantities of silver in, and can run alongside your gold melt or stone recovery lot.  Please call me or your refiner to inquire about smaller quantities if you don’t think you’re going to be able to accumulate larger quantities of material.


On 25 lbs of silver at $17.40 market you’re looking at approx .50 cents per gram; approx .75 cents per dwt and roughly $14.70 per toz.

You can now determine how much margin you’d like to make by multiplying the number above by 65% for example or 40% and that is what you will pay out.

Silver plate can be anywhere from $1.50 – $4 per pound; you need in upwards of 1,000 pounds minimum to really make it worth refining. It’s a lot of work for the return but it does pay. The BIGGEST problem with silver plate is getting it to your refiner…. You may want to plan on driving it because the shipping, even LTL (less than truckload) will eat into or eat up profits. Also, please try NOT to put silver plate in with Sterling refining lots – it’s not good to have iron mixed in (even though it won’t melt with silver) it will throw the assay off.

If you have questions, comments or need help, please reach out anytime. I’m always happy to help even if you’re not a client.