Yes, You can Pay for Your Jewelry with Two Silver Spoons and that 1964 Silver Dime

February 09, 2017

Originally posted January 17, 2017

In my business, as a silversmith and jewelry designer, I’ve learned to be flexible to customers who want to pay me in different forms. Cash, check and credit cards are all no problem to accept of course; but, what about the customer who says, “I have a bunch of old U.S. silver coins,” or “I have a couple of old silver pesos from Mexico,” or “I have old silver spoons and a broken silver necklace.”

To accept these requests, I’ve created a "Trade-In Your Silver" program. If a customer gives me U.S. silver coins dating 1964 or older, .999 fine silver coins, or other silver items like old jewelry, spoons, cups or silver bells, I will give a credit on any purchase from our online shop of about $15 per U.S. ounce (with a 4-ounce limit for first time trade-in customers). 

If I receive something really unique and cool for the trade-in, I will offer those items on my site for sale. I classify these items as, " Too Cool to Melt!". For those items that don’t make the cut, I will send them to a large silver supplier for reuse/recycle and they will send me the value back in .999 fine silver coins to make more jewelry.

Jewelry designer Andrew Vandekop reviewing silver items for the Backyard Silversmiths Trade-In Your Silver Program.

Here are the two most important things I learned to make this program work:

1)      Set a fair trade-in price.

a.       U. S. Silver Coins: All of the big metal dealers publish prices to buy or sell U.S. silver coins (a fair trade-in price should be close to these bulk trade-in rates).

b.       Any Items Made of Silver: On various websites, there is a worldwide price of silver called the “SILVER SPOT PRICE.” A fair trade-in price should be close to the “spot price” of silver per ounce.

c.       Rare Silver Coins:  I have rare coins officially graded before I make any large trade-in deal. For around $10, I can mail a coin to a grading company for review. In about three weeks, they will verify if it is an authentic coin. If so, they’ll place it in a nice little sealed box with the ability to look up the estimated value.  I use these services if I buy, sell or trade individual coins over $100 bucks (a fair trade-in price would be around 75% of the published estimate for a graded coin, and or recent sales on e-Bay or other auction sites).

2)      You need to know the true silver content of any item.

a.       Silver Coin Trade-Ins: The silver content of virtually every coin in the world is available on the Internet. You can simply look up the coin by name and date to find the silver content. But is it genuine? If I’m not sure, I will send one off for a $10 grading.

b.       Non-Silver Coin Trade-Ins: Now, this is a little trickier. Practically all items made of silver are hallmarked by the maker with the amount of silver that should be in the piece. However, you can truly only know when something is made of silver when you melt it. I try to break up large transactions to an initial small one (i.e., the 4-ounce initial limit) where if needed, I can melt one of the items first so I can be sure of the content. Additional tests for silver content such as the acid scratch test, density tests, and magnets are all good, but not fool-proof.

Having a recycling program is good for my business. I’ve been able to provide customers a fair trade for their silver, enabling them to get some unique jewelry pieces that they may not have purchased without the program. Now, there is some record keeping requirements, trade-in-holding periods, and making sure that sure that sales tax is collected and remitted on the entire value of sales. But overall, I enjoy the process.  

Making a payment in silver is not a new concept. In fact, from 1964 and earlier, all of the dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars were silver. So if you paid for something with the change in your pocket, you were paying in silver. Even U.S. paper bills contained the following phrase: “IN SILVER PAYABLE TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND”. This meant you could take a paper bill to the U.S. Treasury and get a 1964 silver 1-dollar coin for it. The U.S. Treasury does not do this anymore, but your silver is still an accepted form of payment with me.

Dollar bills dated 1964 and earlier included a phrase along the bottom indicating it could be exchanged for silver!

You can read more about our "Trade-In Your Silver" program here.

Heading back to the backyard….Andrew