Scrap Silver Prices In the US: 8 Things You Need to Know

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Scrap silver is considered to be a precious metal. For this reason, it has a much higher resale value than other types of scrap metal. It also means there must be close attention paid to the overall quality of the silver so that the best prices for it can be received. The only problem with selling scrap precious metals is that the best prices are reserved for business to business transactions. If you sell to a local dealer, you may only be getting a fraction of what the actual scrap price happens to be.

Do you have scrap silver that you want to turn into cash today? Then here is a look at the scrap silver prices and everything you’ll need to know to make sure you can get the most money possible.

#1. You need to know what weight is being used for the transaction.

Scrap silver can be sold in grams, ounces, or troy ounces. This creates a problem for some individuals because they may need to calculate what the weight of their silver happens to be so they know if they’re getting a fair price. All weights of silver are based on the spot price, which happens to trade per ounce. Here are the calculations needed to convert to other weights if trying to make a sale.

  • 1 ounce = 0.91 troy ounces. This means if you are making a sale in troy ounces instead of regular ounces, your quoted rate should be 91% of the spot price less any premium being charged by the dealer.
  • 1 ounce = 28.35 grams. If your silver price is quoted to you in grams, then you’ll need to multiply that price to figure out how close it is to the actual spot price that is available at that time.

It is very easy to get these weights confused, especially if you’ve never sold scrap silver before. Keep these measurements in mind and then compare them to the spot rate to know if you’re getting a great price.

Silver is also traded in kilograms for high quantity transactions. These are independent of the per ounce trading levels. 

#2. All dealers charge a premium for purchasing scrap silver.

When you buy or sell precious metals, you have to pay a premium, or a commission, on the transaction. This additional amount goes to the dealer who is handling the transaction on your behalf. For small transactions, a commission may be as high as 20%. For bulk purchases of scrap silver, it may be dropped to as low as 2% depending on the final value of the transaction. Business to business sales may even be lower than this.

Let’s say the average spot price for silver if $15. At a 20% premium, there would be $3 owed to the dealer who is conducting the transaction. This means your 1 ounce of scrap silver that is 100% pure would generate $12 that would be paid out.

#3. Silver comes in different quality levels.

Most scrap silver comes from jewelry, flatware, and other commonly used household items. What most people don’t realize is that there are actually 10 different types of silver that are used in the common products that we all use every day in the United States. Fine silver, which is .999 pure, is rarely used in jewelry because it is soft, making it susceptible to scratches and changes in shape. In the US, the jewelry quality standard is sterling silver, which is .925 pure.

Coin silver is generally 90% pure unless it is stamped with a different rate. Britannia silver is 95.8% pure.

There may also be other alloys that contain nickel, zinc, or copper. Silver can also come from several different nations and have different hues or purity qualities that can affect the price. The only way to tell the exact purity of silver is to have it go through x-ray testing or through an assay process that melts down a portion of the metal to determine what its ratios happen to be.

Based on the ratio of silver that is included, the price will be dropped to match that specific percentage. Sterling silver, for example, will only receive 92.5% of the spot price of silver per ounce.

#4. The spot price of silver is always changing.

Silver is a very volatile precious metal that is traded daily on the commodities exchange. It can also be traded in ETFs and other paper representation of the actual metal. As an example of this volatility, in May 2015 silver was trading near $18 per ounce. At the end of August 2015, it was trading around $14.50 per ounce. If you were to average out US pricing for silver scrap, it would generally be about $16 per ounce since 2010, so anything below that you may wish to hold onto to see if the market will recover.

#5. You can find silver in a number of different places.

Scrap silver prices are not reflective of where the silver actually originated. The one exception to this would be silver coins that have a certain numismatic value in rarity that is above the actual value of the metal. You can find scrap silver in dental fillings, watches, and even in its raw form in some parts of the United States. In order to sell precious metal scrap directly to those who process them, you must run a business that has a natural link to the buying and selling of scrap metals.

Private individuals cannot sell precious metal scrap directly to those who process the metals. They must use a pawn shop, jeweler, or silver retailer in order to receive compensation for their silver. For this reason, a scrap yard may not be able to accept silver scrap either.

#6. Knowing where to look for silver scrap matters.

If you have US coins that were minted before 1960, then there is actually silver contained in the coin. You’ll also find that many old awards, pins, and other items of memorabilia tend to have silver in them. As silver ages, it tends to tarnish, so you can identify what is actually a precious metal and what is something that has been dipped in silver tone plating.

When you discover scrap metal that you believe is silver, then you will want to have a testing kit on hand to confirm that is really is the metal. Arts and craft stores generally have testing kits, as do jewelry supply houses in the US.

Where you don’t want to spend your time is looking through leftover scrap at a scrap metal dealer. Knowing scrap metal is their business and they will almost always find silver of any quality that can be sold and recycled for a nice profit. You are better off looking for a partnership with a jewelry creator who may have silver dust and filings they may wish to sell.

#7. Some items that are called “silver” are not actually silver.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that everything which is called “silver” and is metal is actually silver scrap. German silver scrap, for example, doesn’t contain any silver whatsoever. Neither does nickel silver. If you see something promoted as silver being sold for a low price, it can be tempting to think you could turn that into silver scrap and rake in a nice profit. That generally isn’t the case because what is being sold as silver scrap to you probably isn’t silver at all.

#8. Your electronic waste probably has some silver in it.

Precious metals are often used in electronic equipment today. This means you’ve got a great chance to take out some silver from those components. Cell phones, televisions, computers, tablets, and laptops all have precious metals that can be mined. Although the overall amount of silver in these components is generally quite low, if you get enough e-waste together, you could turn it into a profitable venture.

Despite all of the new electronics that are created every year, only about 15% of the waste that is generated by this industry is actually recycled. That means you could have the chance to collect an enormous amount of scrap silver and turn it into real cash right now.

Scrap silver prices may be based on a daily spot price, but the cash you receive depends on more than just that. Ask about the commission or premium your dealer wants to charge for your materials. Look for quality markers on the silver to see how much it contains. If the spot price is low, you may consider waiting to see if the value increases over the next 30-60 days.

Scrap silver is one of the most lucrative metals you can have that people just throw away. Gather your precious metals today, use this guide to get the best price possible, and you’ll have some nice cash to spend because you’ve just made a great deal.

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