Monday, March 03, 2008

The high cost of sterling silver

Today sterling silver went up to over $20 an ounce.

You could almost hear the tears and gnashing of teeth of jewelry designers everywhere.

If none of this really means anything, if it's the first you've heard of it, allow me to put it into perspective for you.

Here is a picture of sterling silver beads that arrived yesterday. Price (wholesale, not retail, mind you!), $400.

Two years ago, this would have cost me $120. And if you think that pile of beads looks like quite a lot, go to my web site and take a look -- many of my bracelets have four to five silver beads and a silver toggle in the mix, and those bags have 10 beads each, so it will go fast.

When I first started making jewelry four and a half years ago, I bought silver at $4/ounce. Now, it's $20/an ounce -- an increase of 500% -- up 35% just this year alone, and we're only in March! That is a LOT for either me to absorb as a designer or you to absorb as a customer. Silver is by far the most popular metal I work in, but the cost of it, particularly for the beautifully detailed beads and toggles I use, shows no sign of coming back down any time soon.

So why is it so high?

Some say it's because China launched precious metal futures trading in January 2008. Some say it's due to silver riding the coat tails of gold's meteoric rise to nearly $1000/ounce. And of course historically, precious metals go up when the dollar is down.

What does this mean for jewelry designers -- more specifically, me?

It means I'm going to work even harder to create unique things. Jewelry is not a necessity, and there are many, many jewelry options out there, so this (hopefully) temporary rise in the cost of supplies will make me push myself to create with more "oomph".

I will NOT be using silver plated anything. It wears off over time and when I see what my Early Lori Anderson pieces look like now, with the plating worn off in part or all the way -- I just can't bring myself to ever use it again. Copper, brass, bronze, yes. Plated, no.

I'm in this for the long haul, so I'm going to treat this hike in silver as a bump in the road that I have to drive over, a bad storm that I have to weather. There's no reason why I can't continue to make pretty things, and I promise to make each piece worth every penny.

To see silver in action, visit


  1. Anonymous9:26 AM

    Good grief, I had no idea that silver had gotten so expensive.

    - Jen

  2. What an informative article, Lori. Do you mind if I link to it from my site/blog?

    I'm working on pricing excess Hill Tribe silver that I got in Tucson...must be surrounded by $1500 of silver at the moment...shiny... ;)

  3. Go for it, Lisa! I envy you sitting amongst all that silver -- well I hope it's a LOT of silver! $1500 used to buy quite a lot, didn't it?

  4. Anonymous8:52 PM

    I had suspected that silver has gone up, but haven't really been following it. I, too, feel very strongly about using sterling silver rather than plated. Thanks so much for sharing this info. Even though your post is a couple months old, it was incredibly helpful to me. Thanks!


  5. Hi Mary! It's amazing, isn't it? I think that people don't realize that sterling is a precious metal, and the prices had been so low in the recent past that we all, designers and buyers alike, took it for granted.

    I've learned my lesson -- if it drops again, BUY IN BULK!

  6. I am just now making the jump from jewelry being a hobby to jewelry being a business - the price of silver has had a dreadful impact on my start up costs. I can go through over 100 headpins for just one necklace! These prices are killing me!!

    Does anyone know how to go about selling sterling silver, old jewelry, silverware, etc.?? If so I'd love to hear from you.


  7. Hi Andrea! A number of places take silver scrap -- my favorite is Rio Grande ( You can turn it in for cash or a credit towards a purchase, which is what I do! I also believe takes it back, too.


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