The Time is Right for Selling Silver for Cash

October 24, 2011

So you’ve seen the web sites and the advertisements offering cash for silver and you are wondering if it is a scam. Yes, there are some cash-for-silver scams out there, but there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself so you don’t get ripped off.

The first thing to do is not be greedy. When you are greedy — trying to get a lot of something (cash) for nothing — then you are an easy mark for the scammers and flim-flam artists out there. If you have some silver and you need some cash, now is a good time to sell silver. Both silver and gold are at historically high prices. But you want to be smart about it, not greedy. If you are smart, you will take your time and only do business with someone who has been in business for a few years. If you are greedy, you will do business with anyone who promises the most cash. Don’t be greedy, because the con artists can and will make big empty promises. It’s not about promises. It’s about sound business practices.

If you have some silver jewelry or tableware, another way to protect yourself from scams is to understand what you have. Are your items pure silver? Or just silver plated? Or is it possible that your item just looks like silver and may not have any silver content at all?

The easiest test to start with is to see if a magnet sticks to the item. If it does, then you know that your item is not pure silver. Both gold and silver are non-ferrous metals. Only ferrous metals (metals which contain iron) are attracted to magnets. If your item sticks to a magnet, it may be silver plated, but it is not pure silver.

If a magnet does not stick to your item, you will then want to look for a sterling silver mark. If the item is made of sterling silver, it will almost certainly have a mark indicating that it is sterling. Marks can be found in an inconspicuous location on the item and can vary. Look for “sterling” or “ster” or “925” which refers to the silver content of sterling silver, which is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. If the item does not have a mark, then it is very unlikely to be sterling. It is possible for marks to be counterfeited, but it is relatively rare. If you got the item from a legitimate source, then you can rely on the mark to tell you that it is sterling silver.

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