If you like to go hunting for sterling silver or silver-plated tableware, you already know that the items you find at antique stores and estate sales usually fall into these two categories . . .
- Solid sterling-silver flatware, which sells for high prices. Sets of sterling tableware sell for top dollar, especially if they were made by a reputable manufacturer like Gorham or Lunt.
- Silver-plated flatware, which contains much less silver and is surprisingly cheap. It is not uncommon to find individual silver-plated knives, forks and spoons for less than a dollar at yard sales.
But then we come to gold-plated flatware. You won’t find it very often, but if you do, you will know right away that you have stumbled onto something that is valuable and unusual.
How do you know how valuable your discovery of gold-plated flatware might be? Let’s consider some basic questions.
What is gold-plated flatware?
It is silver tableware that has been plated with a layer of gold (usually, 14k gold) to make it look elegant and posh.
How much gold does it contain?
The answer to that question is, it depends. In general, older sets of gold-plated flatware - made 50 years ago or more - contain more gold than newer sets do. If you find a set of 40 or 50 pieces of gold-plated flatware that were made in 1950 or so, you could be looking at a set that contains more than $500 worth of recyclable gold.
Why is the set I found selling for so much money?
Don’t be surprised if you find a set of gold-plated tableware that is selling for very big dollars - on the order of $10,000, $15,000 or much more. That could be because it was made by a very prestigious maker, not necessarily because of the amount of gold it contains. It has collectible value.
How can I tell if it is plated with real gold?
You can make a quick determination by testing with a basic gold-testing kit - the kind that contains little bottles of testing fluid and a rubbing stone. However, that test cannot tell you the thickness of the gold that has been used to plate the piece you are testing. To know how much gold it contains, send it to a qualified precious metals testing lab like Specialty Metals for examination.
What are my best chances for making money in gold-plated flatware?
The best chance is to be on the lookout for individual pieces of gold-plated tableware. You will sometimes find them at antique stores or mixed in with batches of old silver-plated flatware. It doesn’t happen every day, but if you keep your eyes open, you can sometimes find a gold-plated spoon, knife or fork that is worth much more than the price it is selling for.
Once I find it, who do I call?
Simple answer. Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and speak with one of our precious metals consultants. That item you found - the one that glitters - could turn out to be gold after all.
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