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Can gold be reclaimed from old dishes with gold trim

Intro / synopsis: Several experts assert that it is not possible to recover the gold from the gold firing on china at a profit. But three readers do not accept that assertion and say they will get back to us with evidence, but we've been waiting a while.


"Gold Refining" by Donald Clark (2014)
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"Recovering Precious Metals" by George E. Gee (2002)
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"Recovery And Refining Of Precious Metals" by C.W. Ammen (1984)
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"Refining Precious Metal Wastes" by C. M. Hoke (1982)
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"Gold Refining" by George Gajda (1977)
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Q. I have a set of Bavarian china trimmed in 22 karat gold and there was a lot of gold on these plates. I have a 10 piece setting with platters and bowls. I want to sell it but I can't seem to get a price on it, or I'd like to have the gold reclaimed from it.

bavarian china with gold edging

Trying to find out whether anybody can help

Debi Rabin
Retired - Mays Landing New Jersey
May 1, 2022

adv (affil link): Gold Edged Bavarian China on eBay

A. Hi Debi. The question of recovering the gold is answered on this page, but you probably won't like the answer :-(

There are lots of sites offering 'instant appraisals', but they are pay sites, so you might first look for similar stuff on eBay or Etsy to see typical prices and competition.

Luck & Regards,

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

A. I have processed/recovered gold from china/plates, etc. However you will need a trash can filled with items to get anything back since it's generally plated in micrograms. The items I acquired came pretty much free. However, as an experiment I purchased gold trimmed items (very Selectively) to the tune of $100. I'll be doing the procedure to remove, drop and melt. Once completed, I'll report back. I may even refine twice to ensure .995

Big Z Ron Zastocki
Hobbyist now-Retired - Old Bridge, New York
October 8, 2023

Update OK, Sorry for the delay in reporting the final result. One of the largest plates I had, almost fully covered, was not gold! As it turned out I retrieved .6g of tested 22kt. About $30. Not a good return for an amateur. However, if you have a huge pile of them for no cost like I have now, it will be fun to see. As I process larger quantities and make small beads, they eventually will be melted together, refined with inquarting silver and refined to .995 or better.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanuka to all. "Z"

Big Z Ron Zastocki [returning]
Hobbyist now-Retired - Old Bridge, New York
December 13, 2023

⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩

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by Gigi Branch
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Gold Paint for China
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Q. Would it be profitable to reclaim gold from broken antique china dishes and if so what process should be used?

Mike Job
treasure hunter - Lockport, New York, USA
January 13, 2010

A. It's normally very thin and is a waste of time and effort to try and recover the gold. From my experience, the gold value usually runs about $0.05 per square inch, or less, of the area covered by gold.

Chris Owen
- Nevada, Missouri, USA

thumbs up sign Nice post, Chris. I like the concept of being able to figure some rough "guestimates" & ability to understand things too. Ty.

Lois LMW
- Wisconsin
November 29, 2023

Ed. note: Welcome! Feel free to read anonymously! But this is a forum with a 35-year legacy of warm aloha incompatible with anonymity; please only post if you are free to use your full real name.

thumbs down sign I find that a general response that it is not worth the time or effort to reclaim gold from pottery pieces or fine china assumes that the gold is only a small percentage of the piece that can be processed -- you have mirrors, picture frames, china jugs, all kinds of possibilities. And also a more meaningful response would not be put into a scale that relates to sq inches; it has to be converted to gold value and oz. -- that way a true recovery value can be calculated.

Earl Olmstead
- Hermitage, Pennsylvania
May 9, 2011

thumbs down sign I disagree with the "square inch" assertion, and agree with "Earl". ONLY if someone has melted down the gold and weighed it can you determine the value. I actually have some now and am going to do so and will re-post the results.

Mike Johnson
- Dillon, Montana
August 25, 2023

thumbs up sign Thanks, Earl. Hi Mike.

Yes, the recovered gold value depends on ounces, but short of doing a money losing recovery and investing in expensive analytical equipment, how can anyone know the ounces of gold and thus whether it's worthwhile? So I will trust Chris' decades of broad experience in gold recovery, and believe that based on usual thicknesses and purities it's usually worth about $.05 per square inch. And I'll continue to doubt that the gold edging on China can be recovered for economic gain ... but best of luck, and we'd certainly be very happy to learn to the contrary if you report back.
Luck & Regards,

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

"Porcelain and Bone China"
by Sasha Wardell
on AbeBooks

or eBay or


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Q. I have a broken French Limoges bowl with VERY thick gold leaf grapes on the exterior. Is there a way to remove the gold?

Sheila Cook
- portland, oregon, US
August 12, 2014

A. Hi Sheila. If it's that thick, scrape it off with an Exacto Knife [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]. Make sure you're wearing goggles [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]; you don't want a pottery chip or the corner of a blade in your eye. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. The problem with recovering gold from glass or ceramics is that what you see is not surface gold. It is very finely divided gold suspended in a glaze. That is, the gold metal is dispersed in a low melting glass.

There is no practical method for an amateur to extract it and professional refiners do not find it economic, even at today's gold prices.

Sorry but old glazed pots are zero value scrap.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

Q. Good morning! I have a very large cornucopia vase totally covered in gold with embossing. It's from the 1930s and I believe purchased in Italy. Is there a way to determine if the gold is real without destroying the vase.
Thank you

Gerry Morgan
- Benson, North Carolina, USA
January 25, 2019

Antiques Roadshow

A. Hi Gerry. There are acid tests for gold as described in topic 42765, and there are electronic gold testing machines. And if you have a friend at a scrap yard, an X-ray fluorescence alloy sorter / scrap sorter [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] can determine that without even touching it. You can search the site for "gold testing".

But if you feel that this piece might be valuable, I think you should take it to a reputable antique dealer for assessment. As we see on Antiques Roadshow, expertise and historical knowledge easily trumps testing.


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

Hi Ted, are you referring to some new fancy high falluttin & fanglled so- called "gold testers" being sold & pimped on the market that do no such thing much, other than reacting to some type of "alloys" within the metal contents & then "re-acting" to most likely "say" there is no gold in the metal at all because the machine reacted with light to other metallic alloys such as bronze or brass or nickel or some other such so? or to "rhodium" plating on some precious metal things to seal the things from getting scratched & tarnished from & while out around in the oxygen & air & so forth & so on?

Lois LMW [returning]
- Wisconsin
November 29, 2023

A. Ceramic gold glazes are effectively encased in glass.
Neither chemical or electrical testing will work.
X-ray fluorescence analysis should be fine if you can find someone with the kit.
However the gold value of a glazed vase is near zero and reclaiming any gold would be extremely difficult and far outweigh the reward. Not to mention destroying the vase.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

A. If you think it might be a significant amount the answer to the question how do you go about reclaiming it is to crush into a fine powder and pan it as the gold is significantly heavier it will remain the last thing in the pan.

angela wilson
miner assayer of rock and precious metal - san diego california united states

thumbs up sign Great advice ... simple and safe to do.

Thank you.

m whit
- Tacoma, Washington
August 12, 2022

Q. Hi, my name is Lyn and I recently inherited my grandmother's china set. My cousin shipped it from California & many of the plates broke. Would it be worth salvaging the gold on it? There's a lot of gold it seems.

Lyn Morales
- Whigham, Georgia
April 8, 2019

A. Hi Lyn. It sounds highly unlikely to me, but take one broken plate to a "We Buy Gold" shop and see what they say. As Geoff notes, even testing it is difficult.


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

thumbs up sign  Thanks Ted!

Lyn Morales [returning]
- Whigham, Georgia
April 8, 2019

A. Why don't you research & sell on eBay for "scrap" ?

Lois LMW [returning]
- Wisconsin
November 29, 2023

adv. (affil link): Gold Edged China on eBay

Q. I have about 200 square meters of glass as described in this link:
Any comments on A - Reclamation of the gold, or B - Removing the gold to sell the glass?

Andre Coetzee
- Klerksdorp, North West Province, South Africa
April 27, 2019

Ed. update Aug. 2023: that domain is currently for sale.

A. Hi Andre. That link is an offer to sell glass of almost any thickness, almost any type, any color, with any kind of edges, for architectural, furniture or automotive use, and there is no indication how much gold is on it.

I'm not an expert on such glass, but quick googling indicates that such gold coatings sometimes approximate 20 nanometers in thickness. If that estimate is about right, there could be 4 cc's of gold there, which isn't insignificant -- but I don't know how to practically recover it. We'll see what, if anything, other readers say :-)


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

Q. Hi there!
How can I confirm that my very old ceramic lamp is gold-plated?

Thanks in advance,


Xavier Stephenson
Hobbyist - Montreal, Canada
September 16, 2019

A. Hi Xavier. It probably isn't; it's probably a gold paint fired onto the ceramic like the gold edging on some dishes. You probably have thoughts in your mind that you haven't shared with us, but sorry I don't understand what you're asking yet.


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

A. If you really believe your dishes, glasses and whatnot might be of high value ... As these gentlemen have suggested, you need to first think of how much it would cost to take it off, then to extract it from whatever the substrate.

I'd highly suggest first though to look on an art website for genuine gold leaf (or whatever metal it is you happen to have stuck on those plates, etc.). I believe just visualizing how much gold is in a book of gold leaf and then realizing the cost to extract it from all sources, I think you'l begin to get a sense of how much it costs for the volume you have. If the item you have is 100X the amount of gold in one of those books, then by all means, bring it to someone for evaluation. If it is similar, I wouldn't bother. If it is somewhere in between, recognize the amount of work involved in taking it off and then separating it. Chances are you'll still come up short for making money because something that has that much gold is typically considered "jewelry" or the like.

Unless you're a former Russian Czar, the gold was used for decorative purposes and not really to enhance the value. No one would have put that much money into investing in kitchenware, etc. that could be broken or go out of style. They would have put it into gold bars. There's no practicality to people putting enough gold on everyday items back then or now! I had some beautiful gold Gucci water glasses. You think Gucci, you think chances are it's a decent amount of gold. But nope. It was just for decoration. Not even Gucci wants to part with their money to put it on an everyday item! lol. I'm just trying to help some people to see the practical side of this. Trust me, I'm just like everyone else that wishes it were valuable. But it is very, very rarely the case.

Doreen Nacht
- Princeton Junction, New Jersey
December 15, 2019

Q. I recently inherited my mom's English bone China dinnerware, complete service for 12. (Dinner plate, salad plate, dessert plate, bread plate, dinner bowl, soup bowl, finger bowl, cups and saucers, as well as multiple serving dishes.) it would have been purchased between 1930 and 1940. Some of the items are well used, many years of Sunday dinners, and the gold is flaked or thinned. I do not have the room or the requirement for such a large dinner set. I have spoken to some local antique dealers but no one is interested. But I don't want to just throw them in the landfill either. I thought if it was possible to reclaim the gold, I might be able to make a small piece of jewelry as a remembrance. I am not looking to make a fortune from this, but I also don't want to spend a lot for naught. I really have no idea how difficult the process would be, how much gold may be available to reclaim, or if it might be enough to make a piece of jewelry, I am looking for some guidance, comments, or suggestions.

Kate Chambliss
- Alfred New York
March 13, 2022

adv. (affil link): Gold Edged China on eBay

A. Hi Kate. You might compare your set to similar stuff on eBay and decide whether or not to make the effort to list it on eBay or Etsy. If you can't sell it, I'd suggest displaying the one or two best small pieces in a china cabinet as a more powerful remembrance as well as a far more practical one than a piece of jewelry.

Or, if you have a good sized attic, basement, or garage, store it away for your grand-daughter or great grand-daughter. Tastes change, styles come and go, and what is out of style today might be tremendously appreciated by a future generation.

Luck & Regards,

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

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