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topic 32894

Melting down old gold to make new jewelry


A discussion started in 2004 but continuing through 2018

(2004)

Q. Hi All, I have a lot of 9k & 18k gold rings and necklaces and I wanted to get them melted down and remodeled into new jewellery, however I have been told that although a jeweler will take my gold it will probably end up in a scrap box and new gold will be used. Is this true?

Kelly B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
homeowner - Perth, Western Australia, Australia


(2004)

A. Gold and other fine jewelry that starts off as a cast piece is made from a process called vacuum casting, the hot metal is poured in a molten state into the mold then the pressure in the mold is reduced to about 2.0 atmospheres or so (which if memory serves is not very much). This forces the metal into all the nooks and crannies, giving you a near perfect positive of your mold.

The reason that most jewelers do not do common vacuum casting is that it is prohibitively expensive, the basic smelting equipment is almost 500 bucks. The stuff for the casting is almost 10,000 USD Hope that explains it.

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina


November 22, 2010

A. Kelly,
the reason most jewelers won't cast with scrap gold is because you have solder joints in the scrap gold. When the scrap is cast you may get porosity or discolorations in the finished piece. hope this helps.

Peter Bochniak
master jeweler - Algonquin Illinois


March 21, 2008

Q. I am trying to figure out how to remove gold from jewelry. I want to buy old gold plate jewelry & separate it to make a gold brick. 1st of all, is it worth it? My goal was to buy it (jewelry) for $9.00 a gram for 10K & $10 a gram for 14K. Would it be worth while or Profitable to do this? So, how to remove it and is it worth it? Thanks, Tony

Tony O [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
potential buyer - Springfield, Oregon, USA


March 25, 2008

A. Be aware that recovering the gold from solid gold jewelry is one thing: 10K gold being 10 parts gold out of 24. But recovering gold from gold plated jewelry is something entirely different because the plating is likely to be only millionths of an inch thick. There is probably more gold in one 10K ring than in 500 plated ones.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


June 29, 2008

Q. If you wanted to melt down different jewelry with different K value, how are you able to determine the quality or K or the newly formed item?

chris Beaumont
hobbyist - Melbourne, Victoria


May 17, 2011

Q. I received an 18k plated gold ring not wanting to keep it is it worth anything in the scrap gold stores for melting. Please reply. cheers John

John Byrne
student - NSW


May 18, 2011

A. Hi, John.

Try to sell it on ebay or Craigslist if you don't like it. Plated gold is so thin that it is worth almost nothing in intrinsic metal value. Most knowledgable people think if you really know what you are doing, and are already set up for it, and if you're lucky, you might get a fraction more for the gold than you spend in recovering it, but most people are throwing money away when they try to do so.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


May 2, 2012

Q. Hi I have a couple of Rings and I have about 6 pins and they all are gold Plated. How much can I sell them for. Thanks.

debbie beck
- tacoma Washington


May 2, 2012

Hi Debbie. Try to sell them as jewelry on Ebay where their beauty may offer some value. There are "We buy gold" stores on every other street corner these days, but gold plating is usually so thin that you'll find that there is almost no intrinsic metal value and it can cost more to recover it than it is worth -- they probably don't even want them for free. Sorry.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


February 18, 2015

Q. I just want to know a refiner that melts scrap gold down to a gold bar. How much is it to get this done?

I'm in Sydney area

mark hobourn
n/a - nsw redfern australia


February 2015

A. Hi Mark. I know very little about this, but I think I know two things, and unfortunately they both contradict what you'd like to do, sorry :-(

First, you can't just melt it down because that just forms a big mixed blob of worthless brittleness. Please see letter 12200 where Chris Owen explains this, and what must be done instead.

wikipedia
Assay

Second, there isn't a good way for the refiner to know what will be involved or what it will cost him or what the product will be worth until he does what is called an "assay" on the material that you want recovered. So free estimates of cost are unlikely. Good luck.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



December 19, 2015

Q. My grandparents gifted me a gold necklace, with a gold "nugget" with a diamond in it. I am told it is in the fashion of an older semi-popular idea that the gifted would have the gold recast. It has no design to it; it is literally just gold, to my knowledge (or rather, as close to "just gold" as anything). I'm not sure about the karat. Do you know if this would be a cost efficient idea to pursue? Or, since I don't consider it a sentimental piece and its not particularly pretty, do you think I should consider selling it? I don't know how much they put into getting it made, and I'd hate to waste it, but it really is rather ugly.

Paris Turner
- Tampa, Florida USA


December 2015

A. Hi Paris. If it is an older piece, really designed for that purpose, then it will be practical to melt down as intended -- and maybe your grandparents actually intended for you to do just that. But when you say you don't know how much "they put into getting it made", it sounds like it's recent and probably just in the style of the old days. My bet is they wanted you to appreciate a piece of the times they lived through.

If it's a gold plated decorative piece designed to emulate that old idea, it has no intrinsic value and you'll just ruin it -- so save it for your own daughter. Any jeweler can test it quickly, or you can look up Archimedes rule to do an initial test yourself because solid gold is much heavier than most plated gold. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"



January 8, 2018

Q. Hi I have a solid 10k gold necklace I wanted to melt down. I have a graphite mold but there was too much gold to melt on the torch I was using. So now the necklace is only a quarter way melted. I wasn't going to sell it, I just wanted it all as a ingot from my mold. It seems nobody around can finish the melting and am being told I'm going to ruin it and that I won't be able to sell it after its melted. So now I don't know what to do with this half melted chain. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated! Thanks

Michael Morris
- Raleigh, North Carolina USA


January 10, 2018

A. Any jeweler should be able to melt it all together.

Assuming the chain was originally marked 10K, by melting it you have changed something of somewhat known value into a blob of unknown value. By melting it, you have made the selling of it more complicated. However, any knowledgeable buyer with a touchstone should be able to easily zero in on the gold value of the blob.

Whether melted or unmelted, a gold buyer will probably give you between 50% and 75% of the actual gold value. I recently talked to a jeweler in a small town that was only paying 50%.

Before attempting to sell it, weigh it on a gram scale and then calculate the approximate actual value of gold in it. Be aware that something marked 10K is rarely, if ever, actually 10K. It is very likely to be 1/2 Karat off, or 9.5K, which is 9.5/24 = .396 = 39.6% gold. At the present spot price of $1318 per troy ounce, gold is worth a little over $42 per gram (1318 divided by 31.1). Your chain, whether melted or melted would be worth about 42 X .396 = $16.60 per gram. So, if you were to sell it for 50% of value, you would get $8.30 per gram. At 75%, you would get $12.45 per gram.

Shop around. You don't have to take the first offer.

Chris Owen
- Benton, Arkansas, USA


January 12, 2018

Q. Thank you for the response! Also good to know its not ruined. I didn't want to sell it anyway but if I'm not going to be able to melt it into my mold I don't have a use for it. The clasp is still intact on the remainder of the chain however. It seems there are some processes of refining the gold out to purify it but afraid it might be hard to do myself. Is there a place that can do that for you? If I just want to use it in my mold is it better to just leave it as 10k? There's 32 grams so not a whole lot here, but still significant.

Michael Morris [returning]
- Raleigh, North Carolina



February 9, 2018

Q. I inherited some gold jewelry (varies on kt content), some with stones, some without. I would like to find a local jeweler to remake the pieces into a statement piece for me. What should I look for in the jeweler? What would be a reasonable price to turn 8 average necklaces, 8 bracelets and 10 rings into a necklace? I know it's a very broad question but I only expect broad answers. I'm in NC closing the estate.

Lisa Rogers
- St. Petersburg, Florida USA


February 10, 2018

A. Hello Lisa, as you mentioned these pieces have different alloys and the jeweler may choose to melt them down in groups or singularly for that matter. The biggest hurdle will be to find a jewelry mfgr and designer to do it. If you do decide to do this weigh each piece and note the kt composition for each. 14 kt gold has about 58% gold weight. Just do the math for other kt pieces. The weight before and after won't match exactly because of stones, etc. So you have melt charges, which can be as much as $650.00 or more depending on the shop doing it. After that, the design job will be the most expensive and obviously dependent on what you want designed. Be prepared and know your weights, because there is a lot of skimming off the top. Good Luck.

Mark Baker
Process Engineering - Phoenix, Arizona USA



Melting Gold to go over an existing charm

February 24, 2018

Q. Me and my husband are getting new wedding bands for our 25th anniversary, what I would like to do is purchase two charms for each of my children, then have those charms dipped in our wedding gold rings, is this possible?

Karen Nic
- Horsham, Pennsylvania

February 25, 2018

A. It's not as simple as just melting the rings and then dipping the charms in the molten metal. That would never, ever work, for several technical reasons.

One way to do it, is to do it chemically. That would be a lot of work and it would quite expensive, assuming you could find someone with enough knowledge to do it. I doubt if any jeweler would be capable of doing it. It would take a good chemist and, even then, many would have problems doing it, since most have no experience working with precious metals.

They would have to first dissolve the rings in acid, separate and convert the dissolved gold to a chemical that could be used in a plating bath, formulate a proper plating bath, and, finally, plate the charms with gold thick enough to withstand wear. Everything on this list requires expertise.

Another way I thought of is to first have the rings refined to extract the pure gold. Then, the gold could be sputtered onto the charms. This method would be simpler, but it would require special equipment and expertise and would also be quite expensive.

I realize that this is purely a sentimental thing. You want the exact same gold that is in the rings to be used on the charms. Once you give those rings to a person contracted to do this work, what would prevent him from simplifying all this by substituting gold, already in the form needed, from another source. Gold is gold is gold. You would never know the difference. I bring this up because I've seen similar things happen, several times.

Chris Owen
- Benton, Arkansas, USA


February 2018

Thanks Chris. People see chocolate covered strawberries and soft ice cream, candied apples, and so on, and envision a similar thing but as you say, it won't work for gold. I wonder if the rings are malleable enough to be hammered into some sort of charms though?

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"



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