The Puzzling, Profitable Process of Refining Silver-Plated Scrap Items

The good news is that you have some silver-plated scrap items that could be worth a lot. The bad news is that unless you’re an expert, you have no idea how much they could be worth. How thick is the plating, for instance? What kind of silver was used? What kind of process was used to apply it? Even timing the market to get the best prices on your recycled silver can make a big difference.

Silver-plated items can be confusing. Here are two stories that illustrate the point:

Photo of shipment of silver-plated scrap sent to Specialty Metals by a customer to be refined and recycled for the best prices on silver.
  • A collection of musical instruments. After she became superintendent of schools for a large city, a woman learned that the city owned hundreds of old musical instruments that were no longer needed in the music program. They included more than 80 silver flutes. (Were they silver or silver-plated? She didn’t know.). There were also clarinets with silver-plated keys, some saxophones that appeared to have been plated, and even some hand bells that were probably plated with silver. She had no idea how much the collection was worth.
  • A small historical society. For a century, residents of a small town had been donating all kinds of items to the town’s historical society. When members of the society did an inventory of its holdings, they discovered a mixed collection of silver-plated items that they would never want to put on display: tableware, trophies, silver-plated frames, tea trays, and more. It was a “mixed bag” of hundreds of items. How could they find out how much those items were worth? Were they sitting on a collection that contained silver worth $20, $200, or $2,000? They had no idea.

Some Helpful Information on Recycling and Refining Silver-Plated Scrap

It’s difficult to understand how much silver-plated items are worth for many reasons:

  • Hundreds of different companies have plated items with silver for hundreds of years, usually using different amounts of silver. You could own silver-plated flatware or holloware that was manufactured 200 years ago, 100 years ago, or 10 years ago. It could have been made in the United States, in England, or elsewhere, using different processes. That’s’ what makes it difficult to know at a glance how much silver each of those items contains. To find out, you need an expert company at the secondary refining of precious metals like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to analyze what you have.
  • Very different quantities of silver are found in different kinds of plated items. A pair of silver-plated candlesticks, for example, will probably contain more extractable silver than a silver-tipped audio cable will. But you will never know until you have those items tested.

Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners has been refining and recycling large quantities of silver-plated items for more than three decades, for companies from electronics and aerospace manufacturers to restaurant and hotel chains. We’re the experts. Call us at 800-426-2344 to discuss your silver-plated items and learn their potential dollar value.