How can I find a reputable buyer of silver? I live in the Greater Los Angeles area.?
Sterling silver is 92.5% pure but will sell for a large discount to the value of silver. The easiest thing is to call around and ask jewelers and coin shops what they are paying for sterling flatware. Some will give you a price per gram, some will give you a price per pennyweight, some may give you a price per troy ounce so you might need to convert them to make a comparison.
There are 20 pennyweight per troy ounce. If you are given a price per pennyweight, multiply that by 20 to see what the price is per troy ounce.
There are 31.1 grams per troy ounce, so if you are given a price in grams, multiply that by 31.1 to get the price per troy ounce.
Here are a couple of larger places in your area to call. Remember the prices change daily so to get a true comparison you should call different places all on the same day.
Joe's Gold and Silver
Los Angeles Gold and Silver
Also look in the yellow pages for gold and silver dealers, but avoid pawnshops.
Calling around first will save you a lot of driving. What you will receive will depend on the actual weight of the pieces. Note that knives will be reviewed separately because the blades won't be silver, plus they have a filler in the handle to hold the blade.
Also consider selling it as a set on ebay (use a ebay consignment shop, check their fees first) as it might be worth more intact than as scrap silver.
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