Oh, the family silverware. It’s the stuff of legends, lore, lust and pursuit. At least he was. Once a requirement on every bride’s registry, today sterling silver flatware is a luxury few can afford, and many don’t even want. Buying silverware that you need to polish is like buying dishes that you can’t microwave.

As a result, sales of sterling cutlery fell lower than those of the Lusitania.

“People don’t go out and buy sterling silver flatware anymore when they get married like they used to,” says Martin Biro, co-owner with his brother, Rick, of Biro & Sons Silversmiths, a silversmith business based in San Francisco as their father, Alex, founded in 1977.

What they do is inherit it. This is where silver restoration companies like Biro & Sons Silversmiths come in.

“Our client is often the bride’s mother or grandmother,” says Biro. “They bring the generational silverware and want to restore it so they can pass it on as a wedding gift.”

Those not lucky enough to have received the family silver can purchase a full 65-piece set (five-piece place settings for 12, plus standard serving pieces) of Used Today Silver for between $1,200 and $3,000, depending on the model, Biro says.

This price is a bargain compared to buying new. Sandy Bourbonnais owns Silver Superstore, a Washington-based business she and her husband started 23 years ago.

“Some people don’t care about their sterling silver,” she says. “They don’t want the ones that others have used.”

His business only sells new ─ unused ─ sterling online and in its physical store. A new 65-piece set sells for between $8,000 and $20,000, Bourbonnais says.

I have to mute my phone to gasp. When I recover, I ask: “And who buys it?”

“A lot of times it’s someone older who has made money and always wanted a set, or it’s a grandmother who buys a set for her granddaughter as a wedding gift,” she says. “Recently, a man in his early 40s came in and wanted a simple set. The younger customers all want very simple designs. Ornate designs aren’t as popular.

Although fine sterling may not be as sought after as it once was, if a box of it has landed in your lap, don’t just put it under the bed. Count your blessings, then consider your options:

Keep it — Given the cost of buying a new or used pound sterling, be grateful to have this family heirloom. “I would like more people to appreciate the money that was given to them,” says Biro. “He represents a family heirloom that you don’t want to lose. When you put it on the table, you might remember Aunt Mary. For us, it is important.

Sell ​​it – That said, if you have two sets of silverware and want to lose one, or if you have a set of silverware that you will never use and no one in your family wants and has no sentimental value , consider selling it. The value will depend on the desirability of the pattern, its condition and whether the set is complete. To get an idea of ​​market value, look online to see what similar items have sold for on eBay. Bourbonnais mentioned the following American companies that will buy used sterling: Replacements, Ltd. in North Carolina, Michele’s Estate Jewelry and Silver in Texas and Colorado, Antique Cupboard in Wisconsin and the Silver Queen in Florida. Expect to get 15% to 20% of what they would resell it for. If you’re not in a hurry, she suggests getting offers from a few buyers and then listing the whole thing on eBay for a bit more.

Auction — If you have antique silverware that is really valuable, for example, it’s from Tiffany’s, Reed & Barton, or Wallace and was made in the 1940s or earlier, consider offering it at auction. Be prepared for the auction house to take 30-40% of the sale price.

Replace what is missing — If you love your family’s money, but can’t set a table for 10 because you’re missing three forks, fill in the gaps. The resellers mentioned can sell you what is missing. Biro’s company can also use its connections to find missing parts. “Depending on the rarity or popularity of the pattern, a missing piece could cost between $30 and $100,” he says. “But if it makes your set complete, the set becomes more valuable.”

Restore it — If your old silver is tarnished beyond what you can do to salvage it, a good silversmith can repair it. Biro charges $6 per piece to professionally clean and polish sterling silver flatware. For a deeper recondition and finish that will bring the pound back to showroom condition, the cost is $10-$12 per piece. “Spending $500 or $600 to restore a silverware set to showroom condition can be worth it, especially if you’re trying to sell it at auction,” he says.

Sell ​​to melt — While the idea of ​​smelting craft silver hurts conservatives like Biro, if the pattern isn’t in demand, you can make more by selling the silver for its smelting value than selling the silverware as it is. what. Find out what a local pawnshop, money exchange, or jeweler would pay you for it. Like gold, the price of silver fluctuates. Currently, the silver spot price was around $22 per ounce. But there is more to the equation. Sterling is only 92.5% silver and the rest is usually copper. Knife blades do not count as they are stainless steel. You also need to consider the cost of metal refining and dealer cutting. Note that anything silver plated has almost no value.

Donate — Giving your money to charity allows you to help a cause you support and get a tax deduction. Find a legitimate donation location, such as a school, church, or charity, so you can get a good faith delisting. Document the donation with an appraisal, photo and receipt.

Join me next week when I find out what silverware my mom left me would cost new today and what it’s worth in today’s market.

Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books including “What to Do With Everything You Own to Leave the Legacy You Want”, “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go” and “Downsizing the Blended Home – When Two Homes Become One. You can join her at marnijameson.com.

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