Antique Sterling Silver from Nelson and Nelson Antiques

Nelson & Nelson Antiques

How to Test Sterling Silver for Authenticity

January 30, 2020 2:22 pm

How to Test Sterling Silver for Authenticity

Many people have items made of sterling silver. It’s common for women to have sterling silver necklaces, and some people have sterling silver vases in their homes. Since sterling silver is so popular, some vendors try to pass off non-silver items as genuine. That’s why it’s so important to test your silver pieces’ authenticity. Anyone wondering how to test sterling silver for authenticity should read this resourceful guide.

Check for Markings

Sterling silver pieces typically contain 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another metal alloy. Most manufacturers will put a marking on each sterling silver item they produce. That way, consumers can know exactly what percentage of silver is in the product they want to buy. The first step is to inspect your sterling silver items for any markings. If you don’t see any markings on your sterling silver item, that may mean it’s a fake.

Perform the Magnet Test

The magnet test is probably the simplest thing you can do to determine if an accessory is really sterling silver. Silver is a non-ferrous metal, meaning it’s not magnetic. To perform the magnet test, all you need to do is grab a magnet from the fridge and place your sterling silver item near it. If the piece immediately clings to the magnet, then it’s not actually sterling silver. Even if the object moves slightly toward the magnet, that still indicates it’s not sterling silver. If you intend to purchase a sterling silver accessory from a shop, bring a magnet with you so that you can perform the test on the spot. Checking right then and there will prevent you from making a poor investment.

Smell It

The “smell it” method is somewhat unconventional, but it works. Real sterling silver doesn’t exude any sort of odor. If you question whether or not you have genuine sterling silver, simply put the piece against your nose and take a whiff. If you smell anything unusual or foul, that strongly indicates that the piece is fake. Again, much like the magnet test, the “smell it” method is something you can easily do at a shop before you purchase an item. Make sure to ask the jeweler or manufacturer if you can take the item to a neutral-smelling area while you check it. Sometimes, shops that sell fakes make the entire room stink, so you can’t get a read on how the item smells. Be smart, and do everything you can to ensure you buy an authentic piece of sterling silver.

If you’re on the hunt for genuine sterling silver for sale, Nelson and Nelson Antiques only sells quality, authentic statement pieces. We can guarantee you’ll receive not only a piece you know is real but a piece that will last you a lifetime.

The Benefits and Advantages of Selling Your Antique Jewelry to Experts

August 16, 2019 3:29 pm
Estate Jewelry
jewelry dealers

Expertise is a requirement when it comes to the jewelry industry. With all different kinds of pieces and designs, you can quickly become lost and confused if you are not entirely certain what it is you're trying to do. Selling antique jewelry, in particular, is a process prone to lapses in judgment and poor results due to a lack of knowledge. If you try to cut corners and work with jewelry dealers that are not experts, you can undervalue your jewelry. There are many benefits and advantages to working with expert jewelry dealers as we will explore in our simple guide. Let's begin.

Before you begin the process of trying to sell your antiques, you should have a goal or a set of standards in place. If you don't perform a thorough assessment of your current holdings, and you don't know what you want to get it out of it, then you're far more likely to make poor decisions. Knowing where you stand before you sell your valuables will make it much easier to communicate with jewelry dealers.

A professional jewelry dealer can help you determine the type of jewelry you have and why it may or may not have value. For example, there are many different types of antique silver, and experts have the knowledge and experience to identify and evaluate them with accuracy and precision.

The classification of your jewelry has a lot to do with its value. Simply put, estate jewelry refers to any jewelry that has been previously owned. While this doesn't mean that a piece has no value, it can have an impact on the overall value jewelry dealers attribute to the piece. Knowing the difference before you begin the selling process can help speed things up.

Many jewelry dealers use different types of silver depending on the type of design you're looking for. Most people don't know some of the basic material concerns when it comes to making and producing high quality jewelry. For example, jewelry and tableware are usually made of sterling silver because pure silver is too soft for these products. Instead, they use an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, though sometimes other metals are used. Again, this is one more reason to consult with an expert who has knowledge of the jewelry industry, as materials can impact the value of a piece, and it's hard to know how a piece was made if you're not trained and experienced.

You should also consider the overall condition of your antique silver before you take it to a jewelry dealer. More obvious flaws and blemishes can be easily spotted, but an expert will probably be able to point out more specific things that the average person misses. An expert can assess damage and advise you on repairs. In some cases, depending on the potential value of a piece of antique silver, a jewelry expert may suggest some repairs to restore the piece to a condition that makes it more appealing to buyers. In other cases, the costs of repair may not be worth it.

Cleanliness is also a major contributing factor to the overall value of your antique jewelry. Trying to clean your pieces on your own often turns out to be a fruitless endeavor. Proper jewelry cleaning requires precise processes that are best left to professionals. If you find that you have some jewelry you want to sell, but it's not clean, then it's best to take it to an expert to handle. For example, certain liquid solutions might restore sheen to some pieces, while they may cause irreversible damage to others. Jewelry cleaning is a delicate process, so you shouldn't attempt to do it on your own.

Finally, the style of your antique jewelry has a major impact on its resale value. Similar to clothing styles, some looks are timeless and maintain their value, while others become irrelevant and outdated. If you lack experience, then it's nearly impossible to know what styles of jewelry are valuable.

If you're looking to sell your antique jewelry, but you're not sure how to get started, then contact us today!

Antique Sterling Silver: Six Gift Ideas

August 14, 2019 10:44 am
Estate Jewelry

antique sterlingThere’s nothing quite like the gleam and glow of antique sterling silver. Whether it’s a silver tea set with tray, sterling candlesticks, or elegant flatware, antique sterling silver has a presence all of its own. Here are six different types of silver items that make beautiful gifts and treasured heirlooms


  1. Holloware: Designed to celebrate the birth of a baby, an anniversary, a wedding, or even as a housewarming present, antique sterling silver or silver overlay holloware is a wonderful heirloom gift. These items are engraved with names and special dates that are being commemorated. As heirloom collector pieces, they are often handed down from generation to generation in families.

  2. Vases: A floral arrangement display is even more breathtaking when it is presented in an antique sterling silver vase. Upon entering a foyer, a lobby, a room, or even the entryway of a home, it creates an atmosphere of elegance and beauty.

  3. Picture Frames: Creating a collection of treasured photographs is a wonderful hobby that many people enjoy. Mounting these treasured photographs in a picture frame made of sterling silver brings an added dimension of beauty to the display. Along with photographs, artwork displayed in antique sterling silver picture frames is breathtaking.

  4. Flatware: Setting an elegant table begins and ends with classic antique sterling silver flatware. Meticulously crafted through the centuries, flatware is available in a variety of patterns. These range from very ornate styles to more sleek, contemporary styles. It is a wonderful tradition to pass along a set of antique sterling silver flatware from generation to generation. A beautiful set of flatware and serving utensils carries with it memories of treasured times with family and friends.

  5. Candelabra: A sterling silver candelabra can add to any display, whether in the foyer or even at the dining table. It sets the tone for any area of the home.

  6. Jewelry: Bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and rings…Sterling silver is gorgeous for all kinds of jewelry. It is cool and smooth in the summer, and add a warm gleam in the colder months as well. What is more personal or more classic than a beautiful engraved sterling silver locket presented on a sterling silver chain?



Personality, craftsmanship, and beauty: antique sterling silver items have it all. Plus, these items also have that unmistakable gleam. The visible light spectrum is reflected at levels of 95% levels in items of polish silver. So if you thought that the silver items you were looking at were extremely shiny, you are correct!



The timeless beauty of lustrous antique silver jewelry, holloware, or estate jewelry items make them all very hard to resist. They are classic pieces for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


Simple Ways to Clean And Care For Your Antique Silver

July 26, 2019 10:33 am
Estate Jewelry

antique tiffany itemsAntique Tiffany items have become common in many households today. Apart from sterling silver jewelry, silver-plated household items can add elegance to our day-to-day lives.

With many people opting to buy antique sterling items, silver sales have seen a boost in recent years. Recent research shows that about 13% of the U.S’s resale industry revenue comes from antique stores.

So with all the beauty that comes with silver, how will you care for it to last longer? Read on to get more insights.

How to Store Your Silver to Prevent Tarnish

Some people avoid buying and using antique Tiffany items because they fear rust. What they don’t realize is that you can avoid tarnishing with minimal efforts.

What causes tarnish on silver? Humidity, right? Experts say that 45% to 50% is the ideal level of moisture recommended to store silver. As much as we can't control humidity levels, it is best that you avoid storing your jewelry in damp areas.

If you are storing that antique sterling trophy in a display cabinet, be sure to add camphor blocks to keep away rust. The blocks should, however, not be in contact with the silver pieces.

You can also use anti-tarnish cloths and papers that have activated silver/carbon salts.

Store your jewelry and other silver pieces in anti-tarnish bags, although they are not ideal for long-term storage. Additionally, make an effort of polishing your items once you take them out for use to maintain their shine.

How to Clean Antique Silver

Wondering how you can clean that pure silver tea set without spoiling its elegance? Or afraid that your silver bracelet will tarnish after a single wash? Worry not because you can clean your silver with the following simple steps.

  • Dusting: Use a clean piece of cotton cloth or soft brush to dust your piece. Most people forget this important step. If dust is present when cleaning, it turns into an abrasive which scratches the finish of your items. For a candlestick, remove the wax by pouring hot water over the wax to melt it. Do not try to scratch off the wax with a sharp object.

  • Washing: Wash the item in warm water that contains a mild detergent. Use your hand to clear any dirt or food on the item. Rinse with pure water and dry with a soft lintless cloth. Hidden places can be dried using a hairdryer.

  • Polishing: Wear plastic or cotton gloves on your hands before polishing to avoid leaving your fingerprints on your antique Tiffany items. Using a non-abrasive silver polish and a soft cloth, gently apply the polish in a circular motion. Use an earbud to apply the polish in intricate areas. When through, ensure all the polish is removed from the surface.

  • Final wash: Wash the items once more as in step two above. For things that don’t get into contact with food, make an effort of waxing with a thin layer of microcrystalline wax to add more protection against tarnishing.

How to safely display silver

If you prefer displaying silver to storing it, be sure to go for a glass-enclosed cabinet. Glass cabinets make the best choice compared to wood shelves which might sometimes emit vapors that would cause tarnish.

Your glass shelves should be strong enough to withstand even heavy silver wares. You can buy anti-tarnish bags, papers or clothes from jewelers selling silver to help you keep tarnish at bay.

Avoid cotton felt, velvet or wool near your antique Tiffany items. The mentioned fabrics have sulfides that cause rust. Furthermore, direct sunlight will accelerate tarnish, so store or display your antique Tiffany silver far from sunny windows.

Final Insights

Sterling silver items are costly and therefore need to be handled with great care. With appropriate care, your intricately decorated silverware will last for years serving you well in baby showers, gatherings, and other occasions where you need to impress your guests. You will also look your best and feel more confident when you flaunt your beautiful antique silver.

Use These 3 Tips for Your Antique Silver Collection

July 15, 2019 3:40 pm
Estate Jewelry

sterling silver for saleBuying antique silver can be exciting and confusing. This is evident just by looking at some of the most commonly asked questions by antique collectors. Some of these questions include: how old an item should be to be considered an antique, how to differentiate between antique silver and antique sterling silver, are silver-plated antiques worth anything? Of course, there are many others, and it's easy to mistake a priceless sterling silver antique for a worthless piece of shiny junk.

The name antique is used to describe items that are more than 100 years old. Such items include statues, paintings, bronzes, and others. It is different from collectibles, a term used to describe items that are not as old but still desirable.

Any antique without "sterling" or "925" mark on it is most likely not sterling silver All American antique silver from the 19th and 20th century has the word sterling.

Note, there are silver-plated antiques that have insufficient precious metal to be valued based on their weight like perfect silver. Typically such items do not indicate that they are silver plated.

If you plan on collecting antique sterling silver for sale, it is good to educate yourself about them. Here are some important tips to help you make the right choice.

How do you determine the age?

If you want to succeed with sterling silver for sale, you must be able to determine the age of the item. If your item has a hallmark, it could be easy to decide on.

What are hallmarks? Hallmarks are tiny initials or designs stamped on the item. Mostly they are found on the backside or underside of the antiques. The initials mainly indicate a date, location, or the manufacturer. If the surface is damaged, you can find the marks by rubbing the surface gently with a cotton swab dipped in silver polish.

If an item doesn't have hallmarks, it is still possible to approximate its age. For instance, you can look at the design and see if it corresponds with some of the popular designs in your preferred era.

Wear and damage

Wear in sterling silver for sale does not affect value, but damage can. In the case of small damages, the value may still be intact. However, excess damage or tarnish will decrease the value. Knowledge of this matter is vital when buying antique silver online. It is common for sellers to hide visible damage and wear.

Antique silver buyers should find it affordable to collect antiques from antique jewelry dealers near me because they can check signs of wear and damage closely.

It is okay to buy a damaged antique sterling silver for your own. But the chances are that you'll develop a new taste in future thereby opting to sell and upgrade to a new collection. If you want to retain the value of your antique, go for antiques in perfect shape. You might find it very difficult to find a buyer for your damaged item. So, don't make this costly mistake when investing in premium sterling silver for sale.

Watch out for forgeries.

Among antique collectibles, silver and sterling silver are the most popular. There are very many items made of this precious metal that maintains its value for a very long time if well cared for.

If you don't know, out of the entire stock in the market, a good percentage is not authentic silver. So, as a matter of priority, you need to know how to avoid fake antique sterling silver for sale.

For a long time, silver has been seen as a possession for the wealthy and has been going for a fortune. Some items are, however, not all silver but silver-plated. Their pricing will definitely be different from genuine silver.

When looking for fakes signs, you should check the hallmarks first. But note, their presence does not mean you have the real thing. Experts will tell you that genuine antique silver has crafts made from steel dies while forgers use brass dies. What is the difference? Brass punches are softer. Talk to an antique silver expert to learn more about forgeries.

As always, educating yourself is the only way to collect valuable and genuine sterling for sale antiques. Alternatively, contact experts every time you are adding a new collection. Most antique silver items are premium — no need to take chances.