If you wish to be a gold, silver or jewellery dealer, the first thing you have to do is acquire a hallmark book. You legally are required to have hallmark guides when trading in gold, silver and platinum goods, so ensure that you have one present to avoid trouble. You can obtain a copy from most reputable bookshops and antiques fairs.
Learn the essential hallmarks such as the Birmingham’s anchor and any other most commonly used ones from the book. You might find that some dealers do what’s called a ‘marriage’ – putting an authentic hallmark on an later piece, if you know your hallmarks, you will avoid this costly mistake. This is not a rampantly common practice, but always check the base of the item for any tell-tale signs such as lumps on the side where they were replaced.
Be selective when buying your pieces, as not everything made from silver or gold is instantly sellable. Go for well-designed, stylish pieces – bigger does not necessarily mean more expensive, as some smaller silver/pewter snuffboxes sell really well.
Some favourites include but are not limited to:
Teapots and coffee pots (matching milk jugs and sugar bowls increase value)
Toast racks (especially those by Liberty)
Pillboxes and snuffboxes
Bowls of various sizes
Platters and large plates
Display stands for preserve jars
Vestas or match boxes
Small picture frames
Business card cases
Scissors and knives
Invest in a gold tester for non-hallmarked or costly pieces. Make sure to carefully clean the items before selling or displaying them, as that will increase value.
Always be aware of safety precautions – have lockable cases for your jewellery and smaller items. Carefully wrap your larger items in opaque covering to avoid advertising your costly purchases and merchandise when walking down the street or transporting by car.