Thanks to popular TV shows like Pawn Stars, Americans have a new appreciation for pawn shops.
Unfortunately, not everyone understands what a pawn shop is.
For instance, there’s a big difference between pawning and selling something. When it comes to precious metals, this can get even more confusing.
With silver closing around $16/ounce daily, it remains one of the safer investments you can make. But how does this translate to the pawn industry?
If you have some silver lying around and are in need of some cash, you’ll want to know if you should pawn or sell silver. In this guide, we’re going to sort it all out.
What’s the Difference Between Pawning and Selling?
The best way to think of pawning something is to imagine it as collateral for a loan. You take something of value to a pawn shop and the associate offers you a loan based on the value of your item and how much they can resell it for.
Depending on the state you live in, you could take out a 30-day pawn loan with a 30-day grace period. Other states could offer you up to 120 days to pay it back.
For full transparency, pawn loan interest can get expensive. You can expect to pay 200% APR. So why is this an option?
First of all, if you have poor credit and are strapped for cash, you can’t take out a traditional loan. You don’t have many options at all.
One of your options is to take out a car title loan. Another is a payday advance.
Guess what? Both of those have APRs in the 400% range. Another reason people prefer pawn loans is that there’s no hit to your credit.
Selling your item is exactly how it sounds. You sell it!
A pawn shop associate makes you an offer and you can take it or leave it. But, if you choose to take it, your item is gone forever. Unless, of course, you decide to buy it back from the pawn shop.
Understanding How Silver Gets Valued
We’ve talked a bit about the value of your item. When it comes to silver and gold, the value fluctuates.
Using the value earlier of $16, a year ago that figure was north of $17. In 2011, silver was valued at more than $35/ounce.
Today, the value is half that. But, silver has been around for thousands of years and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
A pawn shop will make you an offer based on certain criteria:
- Current events
- Currency fluctuations
- Market speculation
- Supply and demand
But, Fineness is also a factor. While gold is measured in karats, silver gets measured by Fineness or purity.
This is marked by 800, 925, 958 or 999. These numbers translate to the percentage your piece is pure silver. In other words, the higher the number, the fewer non-silver metals are mixed in the silver.
So, if you have a piece of jewelry with 999 marked on the clasp, this means your piece is 99.9% silver. Anything less than 99.9% is an alloy.
The most common metal that gets mixed with silver is copper. For example, sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.
Should You Pawn or Sell Silver?
So, you want to know if you should pawn or sell silver. The answer really depends on you.
You’ll get more money if you sell your silver. The reason why is accounting.
When a pawn associate makes you a pawn loan offer, they have to assume you won’t come back for it. This means they have to resell it. They’re just covering themselves.
There’s also a time frame to take into consideration. If they offer 30-day loans, they may have a grace period of extension of another 30 days. On top of that, reputable shops will run everything through the police to make sure it isn’t stolen property.
All these things take time. If you sell them your silver, they only have to wait a set amount of time to find out if it’s stolen or not.
They almost always will give you more cash if you sell them your silver.
So, What Will You Do?
Deciding whether to pawn or sell silver comes down to one thing. Do you want your item back or do you need every penny you can get?
The choice is yours, based on your personal preference.
If you don’t really want to part with your silver at all – don’t! There are plenty of things that you can pawn for quick cash.
If you have a lot of jewelry you’re not interested in holding onto you, check out our tips for pawing jewelry.