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With Scrap Silver Jewelry

Angelina Lip Collar

It's becoming more and more difficult to convince people to part with their cash for a worthy cause. And who can blame them? The prices for gas, food and other necessities continue to increase at a dizzying pace. However, these same increases are reflected in the price of Silver. Everyone talks about gold prices while Silver has actually been outperforming gold, on a percentage basis, for about three years.

Before we had recycling services picking up newspapers, aluminum cans, glass, etc. at our door various organizations from Scout Troops to Churches were constantly promoting drives collecting and converting what once was waste into dollars. The logistics were formidable to say the least. Strong arms, pickup trucks and storage areas were the order of the day. Not fun by any stretch. So, wouldn't it be sweet to promote a drive for scrap that could be picked up, or better yet, be dropped off in a small Ziploc baggie? After all, can you imagine a jewelry box or a dresser drawer in America today without a discarded piece of Sterling Silver Jewelry? Whether it's a little broken chain, mangled ring or something that's never worn at all. How about one earring instead of a pair? That must be just as common as one sock. Individually these bits and pieces do not have a lot of value but collectively they can and will generate cash for your cause.

Most Silver Jewelry is the real thing. So promote jewelry donations but don't discourage others from donating heavier items such as tableware, serving platters and other decorative pieces.

Tips & Pitfalls

  • Create a theme. "The Silver Lining Drive." Just use your imagination.

  • Your group is probably going to be the first organizing this in your area. That's a good thing. Anyone tired of silent auctions yet? And, your volunteers are going to be asking for scrap!

  • Don't limit your donor base. Aunt Betty in Duluth can put her donations in a bubble envelope and mail it to California.

  • The collected Sterling Silver is going to be shipped to a refiner for conversion into dollars and your group is going to pay the shipping charges. Make certain any heavy pieces flatware, tableware, candle holders, etc. are all stamped .925. Although it's not a guarantee, that will have to do unless you're lucky enough to have an expert in the organization. You do not want to pay for shipping worthless plated silver items.

  • Should any of the donors offer to contribute jewelry that's as black as coal please accept it. That, along with the .925 hallmark, is pretty much a sure thing. Neglected .925 Sterling Silver Jewelry does turn black.

  • This is important: Instruct the people that are collecting the jewelry to have the donor describe the item donated, state their own value and sign or initial any receipt that you give them.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do we need to collect to make the project worthwhile?
Set your goals high. Take the time needed to gather a substantial amount. A minimum of 3 Kilos or roughly 6 pounds should be your low end goal. Don't freak out here. Silver is heavy and you'll be surprised how fast it adds up. However, keep in mind that .925 or 92.5 Sterling is being collected and refiners pay based on .999 or Fine Silver. Deduct the 7.75% in alloy. Other deductions are soldering points on the jewelry. Solder has about half the content of Sterling in order to melt faster. Semi-Precious Stone Silver Jewelry is fine to accept. The stones will be deducted from the weight but they are very light. If any sterling dinner knives are donated you can figure the handles are probably weighted with lead. Also, the refiner is going to deduct around 5% for their profit.

I like the concept. How do I sell the idea to my organization?
Start with the jewelry box in your own home. Ask a couple of friends and neighbors to pitch in and donate. Now you have an example of what can be gathered with just a few donations. It's "Show and Tell" with a baggie of silver. Explain to them that most often the cost of repairing Silver Jewelry is more than the piece is worth. Also, this is easy on the donors. No cash out of pocket, no fattening candy purchase, no dollar for every mile walked and most important, no function to attend

What will our start up costs be?
Ask the volunteers to pick up a receipt book from an office supply store. You may want to invest in a thousand commercial baggies 4" x 6" x 2mil thickness. That's well under $20.00.

Do we need any special equipment?
A good scale would be convenient but not a necessity. When you are to the point of needing an idea of the weight collected, your local super market butcher will help you out.

What about the huge newspaper ads saying they will pay cash for old gold and silver jewelry?
Stay away from them unless you are willing to accept a small fraction of the actual value.

Where do we find an honest refiner?
You can research the internet and ask your local jewelers if they have used anyone successfully. I will be happy to refer you to one that I've used. Friends of mine within the industry recommended them and this refiner sent my check extremely fast. Keep that 5% refiner fee in mind while shopping.

What if someone donates perfectly good jewelry like a new silver bracelet that didn't fit?
Well, now we're back to that silent auction thing again aren't we?

For additional information go to: http://www.sausalitosilver.com/market.html or http://www.sausalitosilver.com/contactus.htm

Written by and Copyright Doug Clemens www.sausalitosilver.com

About The Author:
Doug has been involved with almost every facet of the Sterling Silver Jewelry industry since 1974. His experience includes manufacturing, importing and distribution. Also a key silver jewelry and fashion watch resource for major department stores and independents. In addition, an owner/operator of silver jewelry retail outlets

NOTE: You may reprint this article in its entirety if you attribute the article to Doug Clemens and include the website link above.

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