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Melting down old gold to make new jewelry


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


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 far more gold in one 10K ring than in a hundred plated ones.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
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.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
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.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
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.


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.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
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. Good luck.


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

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