Precious metals such as gold and silver have been used as currency since ancient times, and are still traded as assets with the characteristics of international currency.

I'm sure many of you have heard the news that the price of gold has been rising over the past few years, but the international price of silver has similarly skyrocketed.
In Japan, this trend has been noticeable due in part to the depreciation of the yen over the past few years, and in 2020 it has more than doubled compared to before the coronavirus pandemic. (As of April 9, 2024)

Here, we will talk about the relationship between the gold and silver market and the antique market (mainly antique silver).

Silver price trends

1. Rise in gold and silver prices and market prices for antique items

Due to fluctuations in the gold and silver market prices, the market prices of antique items that use gold or silver as materials also fluctuate.
If the products are similar (age, quality, state of preservation, design, etc.), the item with more gold and silver weight will generally be more expensive.
However, in the case of antique items, the price is not determined solely by the weight of the gold and silver used; many factors such as quality, design, state of preservation, rarity, and supply-demand balance (popularity) affect the price.
When it comes to silver products, items with large silver weights such as salvas and teapots are easily affected by the silver market price, while smaller items such as card cases are less affected.
If it is silver plated (silver plate), the effect will be even less.
However, when gold and silver prices are on the rise, the demand for investment items increases, so the price of the antique market as a whole, including silver plate products, tends to rise.

2. Changes in gold and silver ratio

Currently (as of April 9, 2024), the gold price per gram is 12,600 yen and the silver price is 152 yen, a difference of about 80 times.
This multiplier is called the "gold-silver ratio."
Due to the abolition of the gold standard and exchange rates, it is not possible to make a simple comparison, but looking at the long history, the gold and silver ratio is currently very high.
When antique silverware was made, the value of silver was relatively higher than it is today, and it was considered more luxurious than it is today.
It seems that the price difference was about 10 times as much in Europe during the Roman era, and about 15 times as much in the mid-19th century.
Until the end of the Edo period, the gold and silver ratio in Japan was about five times lower than in Europe and the United States, so a large amount of Japanese gold coins sometimes flowed overseas.

gold and silver ratio

The gold-silver ratio fluctuates greatly when large-scale deposits are discovered or new refining technologies are developed.
In recent years, due to the shift from film cameras to digital cameras, the demand for silver halide film, which used to account for much of the industrial demand for silver, has suddenly dropped, and the gold-silver ratio has increased.

3. Rising silver prices and disposal of antique silver

The price of antique silverware is never less than the weight of the silver used.
However, in the case of such a rapid market rise, the market price of antique silver products and the market price of silver scrap may reverse.
In particular, items that are in bad condition, dirty, or need repair before they can be used again can be sold at a higher price if they are scrapped and made into silver bullion rather than sold as antiques.
This is probably due to the fact that there are fewer craftsmen repairing silverware, and repair costs are rising.

Valuable antiques are lost when they are scrapped, and as this happens over and over again, the number of antiques that remain today will decrease.
Even if you try to make antique items that are the same as those from back then, there are many things that are impossible with today's technology.
I believe that my role is to convey the appeal of antiques and maintain their value in order to prevent antiques that should still have value from being scrapped.


The prices of antique items that use gold or silver as materials may be affected by fluctuations in the gold and silver market price.
However, the value of an antique item is determined not only by the market price of gold and silver, but also by various factors, so it is important to assess its appeal not only as an investment in gold and silver, but also as an antique item.
Even if the price of gold and silver declines in the future, the value of its historical background and artistry will not decrease.