The Sterling Silver Price

We’ve already covered a little bit about sterling silver in our article about the silver ingot.  We’re going to continue that discussion because some of you have asked about the sterling silver prices compared to the fine silver spot price because grandma’s sterling tea set is just gathering dust and looking more like copper by the day.  We’ll also discuss the phenomenon of the Troy Ounce and whether or not there is such a thing as Cheap Silver.

Before we get heavily into this, I will admit freely that I do not deal much with scrap, sterling, or “cheap” silver.  However, I do want to provide some introductory information for you and you can decide whether you would like to pursue this avenue of investing in silver.

The Sterling Silver Price

As a review, you may recall that sterling silver is a metal alloy (more than one metal) of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals.  Consequently, some math needs to be done to figure out the exact sterling silver price per ounce of Nana’s tea set.

We need to first note the difference between a troy ounce and the more common avoirdupois ounce.  Here in the US we use the avoirdupois ounce for all our usual weighing: our bodies, our food, etc.  Silver and other precious metals are typically sold by the troy ounce.  A troy ounce contains 2.75 more grams than a standard, avoirdupois ounce.

  • 1 troy ounce = 31.1034768 grams or 480 grains
  • 1 ounce = 28.3495231 grams or 437.5 grains

When you buy a 1 oz silver coin, you’re actually getting a troy ounce of silver.  With me so far?  You can determine the price of sterling silver per ounce or the price of sterling silver per gram simply by following these steps:

  1. Find the weight of your silver in troy ounces (if the weight is in grams, divide that weight by 31.103
  2. Multiply that product by .925 (92.5%) to find the amount of silver in your sterling
  3. Multiply that by the current spot price of silver

sterling silver priceYour result would be the sterling silver value, otherwise known as the “sterling silver scrap price.”  Simple, eh?  Tell you what… if you want an easier method, why don’t you just go to the sterling silver price calculator here.  Now that’s easier!

Now, hang on a second.  That number that you end up with is not the price you’re going to get when you kick in the door at the smelters.  And it’s not even close to the price you’ll get when you go to your local cash for silver joint.  So just be prepared.  One reason for this is because these days, assayers are only using about .91 rather than the traditional .925 because of purity issues.  (This isn’t the same with sterling coins, though; you’ll still get .925 because of the purity of that silver.)  You may also see items with weights of “grains.” Don’t get confused here: grains are not grams.  It takes 15.4326 grains to equal one gram. A Grain is equal to 1/7000 pound; equals a troy grain or 64.799 milligrams.

One last thing, before we leave this scintillating topic.  Watch out for the term “weighted sterling.”  It means just what it says; there is weight added to the silver.  That weight could be just about anything, and it doesn’t even have to be metal.  It could be stuff like cement, or wood, or plaster.  It’s mainly used for filler and strength, and/or balance (like for candle holders), and it could compose as much as 90% of the item – leaving only 10% silver for you!

Clear as mud, eh?  Well, there you have it: The Sterling Silver Price.  That’s why I like to stick with my good ol’ .999 fine troy ounces of silver.


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