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Everything You Need to Know to Buy & Sell Sterling Silver at Auction

Discover how to Identify, Appraise, and sell Sterling Silver, Coins, and Silver Plate

Sterling Silver or other silver objects are commonly found in Connecticut homes or antique stores, or more likely at a family member or friend’s home. Maybe you found something in your parent’s attic or stumbled across a treasure at the local flea market. Have you ever wondered what that item might be worth?

Before you can assess the value, you will need to identify the type of silver you have, its purity, and whether or not it has value beyond the weight of the metal that comprises it.

At Nest Egg Auctions, our roots are in the Silver City, Meriden, CT, which was the home of manufacturing giants like International Silver and Meriden Britannia Company. Nest Egg Auctions has become the best place in Connecticut to buy and sell sterling and bullion silver, as well as numismatic silver coins, and silver plates. For more information about Sterling Silver and Silverplate, Check out Auctioneer Ryan C Brechlin’s Blog here.

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How is Silver Weighed?

Most silver is weighed using Troy ounces or OZT for short. It is an international standard that allows traders in precious metals to communicate with a common unit of measurement. Gold is also traded using Troy ounces.

One Troy ounce = 20 Pennyweight = 31.1 Grams = 1.097 US ounces


Sterling is 92.5% pure silver and the remainder is an alloy of other metals, especially copper. The other metals add to the durability and the hardness of the fine silver without affecting the appearance for use in making coins, jewelry, and other objects. The sterling standard was created because pure silver is too soft to create functional objects like serving pieces or bracelets. The sterling alloy is believed to have originated in Continental Europe and spread by way of colonization.

Common Sterling Items You Might Encounter:

  • Sterling Flatware
  • Sterling Jewelry – Rings, Earrings, Necklaces, Bracelets, Brooches
  • Sterling Pocket Watches & Wristwatches
  • Sterling Cups, Plates, Bowls, Trays, Candlesticks, etc

Here’s a Helpful Tip!

When you’re buying or selling sterling jewelry, keep in mind that certain items will have value well beyond their weight in silver. Jewelry made by certain designers, like Georg Jensen or David Yurman, will bring a significant premium.


Silver coins, whether ancient coins or more contemporary, often have a value that exceeds their silver content. Coins were minted as currency by ancient civilizations and can still be found in circulation today. Some can be very collectible and have a wide range of value. US coins, for example, can have particular value to numismatists when they are in good condition, but when they are heavily circulated, their value begins to drop until it is no longer collectible and they are traded for their silver value.

United States coins – dimes, quarters, half dollars, or dollars, minted prior to 1964 are made of 90% silver. Certain other coins and special issues minted from 1965 and later contain 40% silver.

There are also a wide variety of coins from around the world and from ancient civilizations that are highly sought after by collectors.

We sold this Lorkis Silver Stater for $4,920!


Silverplate is produced by applying a layer of silver to a base metal, usually copper alloy, to produce an aesthetic effect similar to sterling. It frequently has very little actually silver content. High-quality silverplate items include coffee or tea sets, flatware, serving items like trays or bowls, and decorative items. While there is little value in silverplate for its precious metal content, there are many items that can be collectible for their decorative appeal or rarity.

Coin Silver

Occasionally, you may discover objects or flatware, especially spoons, that are made of coin silver. The name is derived from the process of melting down coins to produce other objects. Because this practice occurred all over the world during different periods, the purity of coin silver can range from .750 to .900, or 75% to 90%.

What About German or Nickel Silver?

You may have heard any of these terms at an auction or on an item in your home. Neither of them actually reference silver, but instead they reference an alloy containing no actual silver. It does not mean that your item is not an antique, so consult an expert if you think your item may be valuable.