German silver appraisal

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Mearto Specialist:


Delia has nearly 30 years of experience at regional and international auction houses in the United States, and is also currently the editor of an art and antiques trade publication that tracks market trends, auctions and antiques shows. Delia is a generalist in glass, ceramics, silver and other metals, fine art, textiles, antiquities, wines and spirits, stamps and currency, collectibles and dolls and toys. Additionally, she is a specialist in 15th to 21st Century furniture from around the world. Her extensive professional network of appraisers, curators, dealers and collectors has proven to be an invaluable resource in her work for Mearto.

The worth of German Silver is not as desirable as sterling or pure silver knowing that it has no silver content at all. The metal itself is therefore not as valuable as sterling silver. However, its value is determined by the object that it is used for. Some objects made from German Silver are highly collectible items due to the quality of the craftsmanship to them. But for the metal itself, it is not as valuable as other types of sterling or pure silver items. Nonetheless, a German Silver item is more valuable than silver plated items.

We often find the value of German silver and do appraisals for our customers. Here are a few examples:

A 42-piece "German Silver" tea service. $40 to $60.

What is German Silver made of?

This type of metal alloy was developed in the 19th century by German metalworkers. But did you know that this is not actually silver?

In fact, it has no silver element at all. It was developed to drive down the costs of sterling silver and other types of silver for making jewellery and other items. As a result, German or Nickel Silver is a sturdy metal that looks a lot like silver. The proportions of copper, nickel, and zinc used for making German Silver will vary; however, it will be specified in the manufacture of commercial alloys.

The name German Silver is attributed to the lustrous appearance that makes it look like silver. This is why German Silver can also be referred to as “nickel silver”. It therefore exhibits the properties of copper such as its strength, sheen, and malleability. The high conduction quality makes it easy to hammer or shape it into commercial sheets.

What hallmarks are present in German Silver?

German Silver could have its own distinguishing hallmarks too. These hallmarks are based on a unified system that was developed since 1888.

What items are made using German Silver?

German Silver is often used for the manufacture of silverware, cutlery, decorative silver accents, and silver tableware. When it was first developed, it was used primarily as base for silver-plated cutlery and other types of silverware. Over the years, the use of German Silver grew and expanded to include the following items: Bracelets


Musical instruments (flutes, trumpets, saxophones, cymbals, etc.)

Belt buckles



Pocket knife bolsters


Outdoor art

The resiliency of German Silver against weather influences made it a suitable choice of material for outdoor art.

Does German Silver Tarnish?

German and nickel silver is sought after by potential buyers despite not being as valuable as pure or sterling silver because it is relatively inexpensive. Another positive aspect of German Silver is that it is resistant to tarnishing. Hence, it does not tarnish as easily as other types of silver do. It will tarnish when exposed to moisture for a certain period of time. But in general, it is highly resistant to tarnish and is therefore easy to clean and maintain.

How to Clean German Silver?

The process of cleaning German silver is easy and there won’t be a need to call on a professional. You can simply wash the item in warm and soapy water. Make sure you use mild soap or dish soap. When done, you can rinse it off with water to remove any dirt, oil, and dust that have collected on the item. You can use a soft and lint-free cloth to blot at the surface of the item to ensure that it is completely dry.

Another method you can try is to soak the item in precious metal cleaning plate. It is usually mixed with hot water; however, you must read the instructions carefully so you add the right amount of hot water. This will dissolve any tarnish on the German Silver items. The amount of time needed to soak the item will vary according to the whether you have light or heavy tarnish on the item.

How to differentiate German Silver from Sterling Silver?

To the untrained eye, German and Sterling Silver might look the same. This is due to the similarity in their shine and gleam. Although they might look the same, the metal content for each is actually quite different. Sterling silver is made with 92.5% pure silver mixed with 7.5% copper. On the other hand, German Silver has no silver at all in its composition.

Both German and Sterling Silver are metal alloys; or that which is made with a combination of metals. The main reason why sterling silver was created is to make the metal sturdy and be shaped a variety of ways. Silver is a soft metal so it was difficult to work with. German Silver consists of copper, nickel, and zinc.

In terms of value, there is a huge difference between German and Sterling silver. Due to the precious metal it contains, sterling silver is of high value. The antiquity and rarity of the object further adds to the intrinsic value of the item. On the other hand, the value of the German Silver is largely determined by the object itself and not in the metal composition.

Where can you get German Silver valued?

Do not be discouraged by the fact that German Silver isn’t made of silver at all. As mentioned above, it can still have high market value based on the rarity of the item and the artistic detail. If you own one, you can have the item appraised by the experts at Mearto. This will help you determine the market value for your German Silver items and maximize profit potential.

What our customers say:

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I received a response and information regarding my items in less than 48 hours, which I appreciated. The appraiser was very knowledgable.

Kristal Hicks Torpey

I highly recommend Mearto if you're curious of the value or background of any item in your home.
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