I had a beautiful lunch today with Judie and Eddie, a couple of my co-workers. Our conversation turned to garage sales and buying other peoples’ jewelry. Turns out that Judie is a real garage-sale maven and often buys old jewelry and silverware just to turn it in for its scrap value.
Eddie was giving her a few tips, and I thought I’d pass them along to you, gentle reader.
- Anything precious will almost always be marked so.
- Some things marked precious, are NOT. Beware of counterfeits!
- When considering buying old jewelry, keep a little magnet at hand. Gold and silver are not magnetic. If you get a strong magnetic reaction, it is likely plated iron. If you get a slight magnetic reaction, it may or may not be precious. Nickel can be magnetized, and is sometimes used in jewelry alloys or plating.
- When you are looking at old silverware or teapots that come from Britain, keep your eyes open for an 800 or even an 850 mark -they do not always make their silverware out of sterling, it can be as low as 80% silver purity. Also, when handling older items, keep your eyes open for a small Lion mark. The “Lion Passant” (walking lion) is an old approved hallmark for sterling used in Great Britain:
Image courtesy of British Hallmarking Council.
Happy Garage Sale-ing!