Parting with the Family China

As parents age and consider downsizing and simplifying, many families struggle with what to do with heirlooms that often go unused for years or even decades. For most families, fine china, crystal, linens and silver flatware have given way to more practical tabletop settings that don’t require hand washing, ironing or polishing.

And as the Waterford gathers dust, one wonders if the next generation could possible have room in their busy lives for these treasures or if they will be an unwanted burden that nobody knows what to do with?

If you have a complete set in very good condition, you may want to consider selling it privately or through Craigslist or Ebay. Ask family members if anyone is interested in pieces but don’t be tempted to break up sets, they will lose their value quickly. Check first to make sure the silver is indeed sterling and not plated and that the set is complete; any monograms may also lower the value.

Selling privately will usually earn you the most dollars, especially when someone is looking to expand an existing collection. However, there are a number of online buyers for silver flatware that do not melt down the silver and may fetch you a better price than selling for silver weight exclusively. China can also be sold privately or to replacement companies but be sure to shop around and look for a Better Business Bureau accreditation. Better yet, a local replacement company will help sellers avoid breakage, complaints or additional fees.

Ultimately it’s a personal decision whether or not to part with things that have been in the family for many years but if you have clearly determined that no family member would be heartbroken or future generations disappointed, move forward with selling unused china or flatware confidently. Set the table one last time, take a picture and if it feels like the right thing to do, move forward.  Use the money to take a trip on your bucket list or start a college fund for a grandchild and allow yourself to feel enlivened about your decision.