What You Need to Know about Making Money in Fabrics Woven with Silver and Gold

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is running an exhibition thru June of 2016 includes lavish pieces of antique clothing made from textiles that were woven from silk and gold. Most of the garments date from the Chinese Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), which was established by none other than the Mongolian conqueror Kublai Khan. 

Shown: Velvet Textile for a Dragon Robe, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Chinese Textiles: Ten Centuries of Masterpieces from he Met Collection. Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 1987.

Shown: Velvet Textile for a Dragon Robe, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Chinese Textiles: Ten Centuries of Masterpieces from he Met Collection. Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 1987.

That’s a long time ago, but isn’t it still possible to find antique items of clothing that are woven with gold – or maybe with silver or other precious metals? Here’s some information you should know when you go looking for precious metals in antique clothing.

Look at Old Military Uniforms

Buttons that shine like gold on old uniforms are almost always made of lacquered brass, not gold. However, it is possible to find some ornaments on uniforms that can contain small amounts of gold, especially epaulets and pocket insignias.  Note that the most valuable officers’ epaulets in years past were removable, and often stored in special boxes, so you might not find them attached to uniforms.

You Can Find Some Antique Dresses Made from Fabrics that Were Woven with Silver Threads

The two most common varieties are evening gowns from the Victorian era and evening gowns from the “Flapper” 1920s.  Some of these old dresses are constructed entirely of fabrics that contain silver; others contain silver only in collars, cuffs, emblems or other special decorations.  It is also common to find dresses from these periods that are woven with silver-toned thread that is not made of silver and which cannot be refined. If we test a garment for you and determine that it contains silver, however, the silver can be extracted and refined.  We’ll be happy to discuss this option with you if you call us at 800-426-2344.

Be on the Lookout for Woven Purses and Small Evening Bags

Many were manufactured from woven silver or silver-plated brass in the “Roaring Twenties,” some with gold-filled clasps and accents.  If you find one of these purses – or preferably a batch of them –give us a call and we will explain your recycling options. They generally yield a greater return than fabrics woven with silver.

What About Chain Mail?

If you pass through the armament collection at the Metropolitan Museum on the way to the exhibition of Chinese silk-and-gold clothing, you’ll notice a lot of old suits of armor that contain chain mail. Is any of that woven metal made of silver or gold? No, it was made of woven steel, because it had to be strong enough to resist penetration by swords, knives, battle-axes and other weapons. (Gold and silver are both soft precious metals.) But, because we’re discussing materials made of woven metal today, we figured we’d at least mention chain mail in today’s post.

If we failed to answer your questions or if you have any woven items that you think contain silver or gold, give us a call today at 800-426-2344. We’ll be happy to discuss our testing and recycling options with you.

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Can You Recycle Precious Metals from Musical Instruments  
Make Money by Recycling Gold Buttons, Buckles and Cufflinks