In the '70s the market price of silver went through the roof, got close to $50 an ounce and slowly worked it's way back down to $12. The increase happened quickly but the decline took a while. The same thing is happening now. Silver is nearing $50 after being stable at around $17 for decades, dropping to $12 occasionally. This has seen jewelry prices increase as it's costing more to produce. The price is going to peak here pretty quickly, and with the economy currently being what it is, I foresee it tanking in the very near future.
Everybody is up in arms about how expensive silver has become, and I'm real sorry, but I don't get it. I understand that the contemporary trinket market depends heavily on the availability of silver, but trinkets are just that—quickly thrown together, mass produced identical pieces aimed at a quick sale to the general public. The art aspect is not a consideration, or if it is, it's minimal at best.
The only reason I even have knowledge of silver prices sky-rocketing is that my suppliers are beginning to consider it when offering me goods. They complain about it all the time, make sure they tell me all about it as an excuse to raise their prices.
I ignore it. Always have. I'm not dealing in pieces of metal, I procure art, and the cost of materials to produce it is completely immaterial. The end product, when created by artisans that “care” far transcends the cost of materials.
Bulk can be a consideration when acquiring, as heavier pieces are often desirable. Artisan's worth their salt use heavy gauge materials to insure their creations will be sturdy, and last a few lifetimes. Considerable weight can increase the value of a piece, but it has little to do with the market price of shiny metal.
I just acquired this exquisite Old Pawn Navajo Turquoise bracelet. It's one of, if not the, most beautifully crafted carinated-band-shank bracelet I've ever seen. It weighs 108 grams, or 3.6 Troy ounces. That puts it's silver scrap value at around $145. Anyone that would sell this masterpiece for scrap needs their head examined.
I wonder how much the paint cost when Davinci did the Mona Lisa? Not real sure that's a consideration when establishing it's value.