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Silver Lining in the Luxury Marketplace

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by Brigitte Rozario

Antique silver never goes out of style even though the value changes according to the market rate of the valuable metal. While silver has seen better days during the market appreciation just five years ago, the lower price today makes it the prime time to buy.

Silver is a good form of investment as it is only a matter of time before the value will increase, perhaps even double, as it did in 2011. In fact, the experts are optimistic that the price of silver will be on the uptake this year.

Whether you buy silver for investment or as a decorative item in your home, silver remains sexy.

Tiffany sterling silver dishes with larger dish

In the luxury marketplace, silver is always a deluxe investment. It is much sought after for those wanting to elevate the interior design of their home to the next level.

Gold tends to be too flashy and if overly done can be tacky. But silver is a timeless beauty and it looks good on every surface in the home. It is a mark of distinction and individuality, bringing prominence to the owner's love for the finer things in life.

Silver has been used in jewellery, cutlery, as a currency, and even in dentistry. History tells us that it has been highly valued as a metal and plays second fiddle to none except for gold.

Silver also played a role in religion. Remember Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins? Prophet Muhammad is also said to have worn a silver signet ring.

However, not everything that shines is valuable. If you are thinking of buying silver, you should look for items that are heavy and have a makers' mark or hallmark at the back or at its base. If the item is light, it could very well be silver-plated and not made of silver. If it is silver-plated, the item is just coated with silver, hence it is not as valuable as sterling silver.

Markers' mark at base of Victorian English sterling silver tea pot

The hallmark indicating that the antique is made of sterling silver should say sterling, .925 or 925/1000. Watch out for fakes bearing such stamps too. While genuine marks are crisp, fake stamps tend to be dubiously unclear.

However, not all silver items have the stamp or hallmark. For example, pieces that are very old may not have any stamp at all. That doesn't mean they are any less valuable. If you are unsure of whether your silver item is real and what it's value is, you should get it assessed by an antique specialist.

When buying silver, you should also watch out for any signs that the item has been repaired.

According to reputable auctioneers, repairs on items would reduce the value. The only exceptions to this rule are really rare pieces.

If you have a passion for beautiful designs, then you should look for Asian pieces.

Asian antique silver like 19th century Tibetan snuff bottles, Vietnamese boxes, Chinese vanity sets and junks, and Tibetan Mandalas tend to feature intricate motifs with an emphasis on detail. These pieces were no doubt acquired by the affluent members of society then, and the items were very much a reflection of wealth and status.

Burma Antique Silver Silk Cloth Lime Box

Today, such items and decorative silver are much sought after, especially those in the Art Nouveau style.

The best silver buys are believed to be those made before the early 20th century. Names matter in the valuation of silver products as the more reputable manufacturers are recognised for their artwork. One such marque is Viners & Co whose name is synonymous with quality.

It is not surprising then to find an exceptional Art Deco sterling silver tea set with tray by Viners & Co going for $20,000. The set is a fine example of the silver produced in that period.

Silver pieces are also a hot commodity for interior designers who want to add a touch of class to homes. An intricate and unusual silver antique can be an outstanding centrepiece and become a topic of conversation at dinner parties. It can also be a piece of art or reflect the home owner's cultural background. When shopping for antiques, interior designers should not just look at the bigger pieces as the small items can also stand out and become focal points in a room.

Silver centrepiece: Chinese export junk

Silver can last a few generations if well maintained. With care and cleaning, antique silver can last a long time and be free of tarnish. It is also advisable to keep your silver in a cloth pouch, an airtight box or a temperature-controlled cabinet, especially in countries where the humidity can be quite high.

Silver antiques are not just for the old. Today, they are collectibles for those wanting something to invest in, or those looking to amass treasures to pass on to their children and grandchildren in years to come.

For those looking for silver antique acquisitions, premier curated marketplace Luxglove has several beautiful Asian and western pieces that will captivate you.



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