Treasure in your junk drawers, attic, and basement! How to identify your gold and silver

With gold exploding to a record high this summer over $2,000, interest in gold and silver is stronger than ever. But how do you know if your items have value? Ill share some helpful tips so you can identify if you have treasure or trash.

First, find a strong magnet. Gold and silver do not (should not) stick to a magnet. However, I have found that every once in a while, they do stick so dont 100% count on this tip.

Next, grab a strong magnifying glass. The markings you are looking for on items are very small and not always easy to find.

So, what do you look for? Lets start with silver. Silver-plated items have very little value while sterling is the good stuff. On your jewelry, flatware, serving pieces, etc., look for the word sterling”. You can also look for a number like 800, 900, and 925. This tells you how many parts per 1,000 are silver. Sterling is 925 part per thousand, or 92.5% silver.

If the silver comes for Europe and/or an antique, it may have numbers like 800, 835, or 900 on it. Also, instead of saying sterling”, it could have a full-body profile of a lion, a king or queen profile, or other markings, that means sterling.

Now, for the bad news. If you see the following, your items are plated; EP, EPNS, EPBM, silver on copper, A1, community, triple plated, quadruple plated, alpaca, or plateado.

Gold is your big homerun. With gold at $2,000 per ounce, it only takes a little gold jewelry for you to have several $1,000s. With gold, look for the karat. What does the karat mean? Think about fractions and the denominator is 24. So, if you have pure 24K gold, it is 24/24. If you see 10K, it means 10/24 or .417. So, look for 10K or 417. If an item is 14K, then it is 14/24 or .585. So, on most gold jewelry you may see 14K or 585. With 18K gold, it would be 18/24 which is .75. Here, you will see either 18K or 750 on an item.

Old U.S. coins are a treasure come true. Look for 1964 and before, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and silver dollars. They are 90% silver. Also, try to find half dollars 1965-70 because they contain 40% silver. The biggest treasure of all is U.S. gold coins that were minted up until 1933. Try to find gold; one dollar, two dollar, two and a half dollar, five dollar, ten dollar, and twenty dollar gold coins and you will have big bucks for the gold alone!

You are now ready for treasure hunting in your junk drawer, jewelry box, shoe boxes, pantry, garage, attic, and other parts of your home where you may keep your gold and silver.


By David Kaz, President and Precious Metal Buyer DMK Metal, (847)508-0224,,

Working as a bag boy at his grandparents Rogers Park grocery store in the 70s, David was fascinated by the silver dimes, quarters, half dollars, and war nickels that would appear in the cash register. He exchanged the modern versions for the silver change and that started his 40+ year interest in silver and gold. He has been actively purchasing unwanted gold and silver items from clients, that the kids and grandkids don’t want, at the highest prices for the past five years. David also enjoys educating his clients on the value of their gold and silver jewelry, sterling flatware, coins, and more. He also gives an educational presentation called “Demystifying Gold & Silver” for any group or organization.