Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BBC bargain hunt tips – How to spot Real Silver?

Silver appears on every episodes of the TV show “Bargain hunt” on BBC TV. If it’s real silver then it can be valued by its weight alone. A piece of good silver can realise a good price at auction and can make a profit and even a winning item for the Bargain Hunt teams (or at least wipe its face!)

But . . .

How do you spot real silver?

Many things for sale that purport to be silver are not real silver. Sometimes these items are sold as silver by a lack of knowledge on the part of the seller and sometimes other motives are unfortunately used.

A knowledge of hallmarks is important here and I would suggest that you take a look at this hallmarks guide featured at the bottom of this page.

Also you should learn the terms below that refer to silver styled items that are often mistakenly advertised as silver.

Sterling Silver Plate
Sterling Silverplate – This doesn’t exist even though you will see it advertised because sterling is an alloy it is unsuitable to use as a silver source for plating.

This stands for Electro Plated Nickel-Silver. Common variations on this are E.P., E.P.C. (Electro Plate on Copper), E.P.W.M. (Electro Plate on White Metal), E.P.B. or E.P.B.M. (Electro Plate on Britannia Metal).

(See More about this)

Any item marked with E.P. is silverplate and as such has no precious metal value.

Nickel Silver
Nickel-Silver is a common base metal alloy consisting of nickel, copper and zinc. There is no silver in it whatsoever. The name was coined because the metal is silvery in colour and polishes to a shine. Other names used for the same metal are: Alpacca or Alpacca Silver; Brazil Silver; German Silver; Peru Silver; New York Silver; New Silver; Nevada Silver; Norwegian Silver; Silverite; Venetian Silver; Potosi Silver; and Sonora Silver to name just a few.

(Nickel-silver is strong and durable but it doesn't have any metal value).

White Metal
White Metal - This is a silvery coloured alloy usually containing a mixture of antimony, tin, lead, zinc, and cadmium. In the U.K. the British fine arts trade uses the term 'white metal' to describe all foreign items which do not have official British Assay Office marks struck on them.

Brittania Metal
Britannia Metal is a non-silver base metal similar to pewter which is popular because it is durable and polishes to a silver-like lustre. This is an alloy of 93% tin, 5% antimony and 2% copper. Not to be confused with 958 Britannia from Great Britain.