15 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Gold & Silver

Today gold is more than $1600 per ounce, and silver is nearly $16 per ounce. It doesn’t take many ounces of silver to reach into the hundreds of dollars, and it doesn’t take much gold to reach into the thousands of dollars. But I caution you: there’s a great deal of “Smoke and Mirrors” you’ll face when selling your precious metals, and it’s all designed to help the Buyer and not the Seller.

If you don’t know how the game is played, if you don’t know precisely what you have… before you sell it… then you’re a prime candidate to be taken advantage of when selling. Here are just a few things you should know, and a few things you should own, before attempting to sell your precious metal treasures.

  • Avoirdupois vs. Troy Ounces: If you don’t understand the difference between the two, and if you don’t know how to convert one into the other, then you’ll probably be taken advantage of. Avoirdupois Ounces are bathroom scale or delicatessen scale weights. Precious metals are weighed using Troy Ounces, which are a totally different weight measurement. You had better learn the difference.
  • Ounces vs. Pennyweights vs Grams: Each Troy Ounce contains 20 Pennyweights (dwt.) or 31.1 Grams (g). Some Buyers use Grams to calculate value, while others use Pennyweights. It will vary from store to store. And if you don’t understand how these work, and if you can’t convert one into the other, you will probably be taken advantage of at some point.
  • Sterling Silver Fineness: You must understand the Sterling Silver is always 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% base metal. Never any more or less.
  • Other Silver Fineness: You must understand that some countries used a silver standard other than Sterling, such as 95%, 90%, 90%, 83.5%, or 80%. Each is marked differently and you need to understand how to identify the various markings, and differentiate one from the other.
  • Solid vs. Weighted Sterling: There is a big difference between Solid Sterling and Weighted Sterling. Both metals contain 92.5% pure silver, but Weighted Sterling contains a heavy cement to help prevent the piece from tipping over. And no one is going to pay you for cement.
  • Non-Silver Silver: If you think that German Silver, Alpaca Silver, or Sheffield Silver are real silver, you would be mistaken. And it could cost you.
  • Gold Fineness: If you don’t understand the difference between 10k, 14k and 18k gold, it could also cost you dearly. This is very basic and, with gold at $1,600+ per ounce, a slight miscalculation could cost you thousands.
  • Other Golds: If you don’t know the difference between Rolled Gold, Gold Plate, Gold Fill, Gold Vermeil, or Gold Tone… it could also cost you big bucks.
  • Troy Weight Scale: If you don’t own a $15 precious metals scale, you can’t properly weigh what you own, and you won’t know precisely what you have.
  • Precious Metal Test Kit: If you don’t own a $15 acid test kit which enables you to test and/or confirm the fineness of gold and silver, then you won’t be able to confirm precisely what you do, or do not, have.
  • Diamond Tester: If you don’t own a $15 Diamond Tester, how will you know whether it’s a real diamond or fake paste? (Did you ever hear the story of the family that sold Mom’s $10,000 diamond ring for $10 because they thought it was costume jewelry?).
  • Is the Buyer’s Scale Accurate? Can you determine whether the Buyer’s scale is set to a measurement that favors them over you?
  • Fake Gold and Sterling Items: Fake US and Foreign Coins are made to look authentic but they’re not. And we’re seeing an increasing number of fake jewelry items marked “Sterling“, or with fake “10k, 14k, 18k” gold markings. Most have been manufactured in China and imported here. Can you tell the difference?
  • Are the Gemstones Real or Faux? Can you tell the difference between real and fake gemstones? And the value of each?
  • Buyer Reputation & Longevity: Does the Buyer have extensive experience, or have they recently opened? I would much rather deal with someone who’s been in business, at that same location, for a long time period of time. You don’t stay in business for decades unless you treat people fairly.

Always remember this: The Seller always wants as much as possible, while the Buyer wants to pay as little as possible. If you end up somewhere in the middle, you’re probably okay. But if you don’t understand the value of what you own… before you sell it… you’ll probably be taken advantage of. Need some helping selling Jewelry, Coins and/or Sterling Silver? We can probably help. Call us at 215-264-4304 if you have any questions or need our help converting your treasures into cash.

WHAT’S IT WORTH?: We were helping a woman from Florida to sell some Sterling Silver flatware she had sent to us. Before we sold it, we called her with our calculated weight and estimated re-sale value. Her immediate response was that our weight did not match hers and sounded too light. I asked her three questions

  • Did she weigh it on a bathroom scale? Yes, she had.
  • Did she weigh it while the cloth wrappers that protected the various pieces were still on? Yes, she had.
  • Did she weigh the Sterling-handled knives at full weight rather than just factoring in the weight of the hollow Sterling handle. Yes, she had.

We took her weight, then subtracted the cloth wrapper weight, and the Sterling knife weigh, and converted her Avoirdupois weight to Troy ounces. and guess what? We were spot on. And she was ultimately happy.

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