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No, it's a serious question. Have you ever thought about how you would destroy a 10 ounce silver ingot? And why?

No? Well, you may find it useful to start thinking about doing so.

Please read on ....

All silver sold in UK and weighing above 7.78 grammes has to meet certain criteria. These criteria are explained in another of my guides, but suffice to say that it's not lawful to sell as silver, any item over that weight unless it is hallmarked or exempt. Exemption criteria vary, but any item sold as bullion is an exempt product. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: bullion is exempt, but there's nothing stopping you asking an assay office to mark it for you, after testing.

This means that if an ingot of silver bullion is sold as ".999" or "fine" and it turns out to not be so, then the matter is one for the local trading standards office.

Of course, we instinctively trust those 10 ounce bars made by Johnson Matthey, Wall Street Mint, NWT, etc. We just know that they are .999 silver and, quite rightly, there's a thriving market in them as buyers seek to invest in this precious metal. But we buy on trust, as there's no official mark on these bars to tell us what the metal really is.

Unfortunately, as more buyers flood into the market, so there will inevitably be the odd seller here or there who seeks to take advantage of the exemption that applies to bullion. And what better way to do that than to buy cheap "scrap" silver, (bracelets, candlesticks, rings, etc.) and turn it into shiny "new" silver.

Of course, any seller melting old scrap silver down and recasting it into ingots stamped ".999" or "fine silver" would be misrepresenting those items if they weren't actually ".999" or "fine silver". And, without doubt, anyone who did sell recast silver would no doubt have the ability to overcome the big hurdle of refining from, say, Sterling (.925) into Fine (.999).

As I do a quick search through eBay, I notice several instances of sellers offering .999 silver bars for sale. And some of the bars on offer look plainly amateurish.

BUT .... let me be very clear here > there's no doubt that the majority of sellers manufacturing their own ingots meet the legal requirements of the law by describing their items honestly as ".999" or "fine silver".

However ....

If you buy an ingot marked .999, there's nothing to stop you having it assayed by any UK assay office. Birmingham is a good start, Sheffield are also recommended. The cost is about £30.

Assuming that your bar *is* .999, it will then be given a certificate stating that the bar is 99.99% pure silver. If it's not, then the certificate will state the actual purity.

In all cases, you'll get a shiny new certificate that links to your bar.

Now ....

Let's assume that you buy an ingot described as ".999" or "fine silver" and, being a suspicious person, you take it to be assayed and they issue with *anything* except a .999 certificate, then apart from a trading standards issue, you also have a case with eBay and PayPal for item not as described. And with your certificate from an official Assay Office, the proof that they ask for to accept it as a claim is already met. And believe me, neither PayPal or eBay are going to start a fight with the Assay Offices by not recognizing their official documents.

So, you may ask, how does this get me anything but a refund after spending £30 on an assay?

Well, the way PayPal works, if your item is fake, (and for example, selling an ingot of .925 as .999 is regarded as fakery), then PayPal usually tell you to destroy it. Very occasionally, they may ask you to return it to them. But usually not. However, if they asked you to return it to the seller, they would be opening themselves up to aiding and abetting an offence and perpetuating a fraud, so you'll NEVER be asked to return a fake item to a seller.

So, after you have received your refund for the fake .999 ingot, you MUST destroy what might be a .925 ingot and confirm to PayPal that you have done so!

And what do you get for your £30 assay fee? Well, quite simply, the satisfaction of fighting fakers and counterfeiters by destroying a bar of silver.

And of course, with an ingot in your hands that nevertheless contains 92.5% of silver, that's exactly what you're going to do - ISN'T IT; you're going to destroy that bar, rather than refine it or sell it on with the certificate?

End of story.

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