If you search for real gold and silver at yard sales and thrift stores, it doesn’t take very long before you run across an item marked “Sterling Weighted” or sometimes “Sterling Reinforced”. You might have seen this marking already.
When beginning, this can be a confusing term, but don’t let it scare you. It’s simply another way of saying, “This item has a thin REAL SILVER shell over a hard, NON-SILVER core… usually plaster or resin.”
Keywords: REAL SILVER
The outer metal shell is just what the marking says it is, Sterling Silver, 92.5% PURE. Now that you know these items contain real silver, don’t go crazy just yet, we need to cover the second part of the marking…
As you can see from the candlestick photo above, items marked “Sterling Weighted” have a silver shell over a non-silver core (in this case, resin). The same is true for items marked “Sterling Re-enforced”, “Sterling Reinforced”, etc, etc… Some similar markings you might run across include “Cement Loaded” or “Base Loaded”. They all mean the same thing.
The shell is always thin, and sometimes it is unbelievably thin, depending on the company that made it. In a nutshell this means you can run across “Sterling Weighted” items that are large and impressive and appear to contain mountains of sterling silver only to find the silver shell weighs only a fraction of your original estimate.
I’ve seen shells on candlesticks that are so thin, they make excellent razors… and I’ve sliced my fingers on these thin shells more times than I can count.
At some point I’ll put up a general guide to how much silver you can expect to recover from Sterling Weighted items but until then I can tell you the answer is “not much”.
The company “Duchin” is one of the worst offenders when it comes to skimping on sterling silver in their items. I’ve seen “weighted” candlesticks made by this company where the entire sterling content is under 12 grams. Not much silver when you consider the “before” weight is usually over 3 ounces.
On the other hand, several years ago I scrapped a pair of “weighted” candlesticks that contained over 110 grams of sterling silver… EACH. They were a similar size to the Duchin candlesticks of skimp-ville, but the sterling silver shells on these heavy suckers was several millimeters thick and took some heavy duty dremel action to coax apart.
So while most of the weighted sterling silver items you find will have thin shells that can almost be peeled off by hand, there is definite value in these items, sometimes SURPRISING value.
Marking Commonly Found On…
The “Sterling Weighted” and similar markings are most commonly found on the following items (though certainly not limited to only these).
- Candy Dishes / Compotes
- Knife Handles / Serving Utensil Handles
- Sugar & Creamer Sets, Teapots, Various Other Pieces of Silver “Hollow-ware”
Key Points to Remember
The next time you run across an item marked “Sterling Weighted”, buying it (to make a profit) is a no-brainer when you keep the following in mind:
The item contains REAL sterling silver, so it HAS VALUE, BUT… the silver is in the form of a thin shell coating so when estimating value, view the item in the same way you would treat a FULL can of soda versus and EMPTY can.
In other words, don’t get stuck paying silver value for the SODA and you’ll do just fine! 🙂