Ask a Gold Refinery - What’s the Difference between Gold-Plated and Gold-Filled Eyeglass Frames?

If you look closely at older eyeglass frames made before about 1975, you might notice some curious numbers stamped on the temple pieces (the pieces that run up over the wearer’s ears) or on the frames themselves. The markings might be something like “1/10 10K.” What do those numbers tell you? What do they mean? And if you are in possession of a large quantity of gold optical and eyeglasses scrap, how much money can you get from recycling?

They Mean that Your Eyeglass Frames Are Valuable

They mean that you have eyeglass frames that are not gold plated, but gold-filled. Here’s the difference.

Shown: a shipment of optical and eyeglasses scrap that a customer sent to Specialty Metals for us to recycle, refine and recover gold from.

Shown: a shipment of optical and eyeglasses scrap that a customer sent to Specialty Metals for us to recycle, refine and recover gold from.

  • “Gold-plated” frames, like nearly all frames made today, have only a very thin layer of gold plated onto them – only a few microns.
  • “Gold-filled” frames are plated with a thicker layer of gold – in some cases, up to 100 times thicker than what you will find on today’s gold-plated glasses. They were made back the days when gold was much cheaper than it is today. The idea was to produce a thick plating that would endure through years of use, not get tossed after a few years.

What Do Those Numbers Mean?

It’s actually pretty simple. If you find the marking “1/10 10K,” that means that 1/10 of the weight of your frame is 10K (10 karat) gold. If you find a marking that says, “1/10 12K,” that means that 1/10 the weight of your frame is 12K gold, and so on.

If you have a laboratory scale, you can pretty easily estimate how much karat gold is in a pair of old frames. If 1/10 of the weight of your frames is 10K gold, for example, you’ll quickly know how much 10K gold they contain. Remember that karat-rated gold means that you are dealing with an alloy of gold, not pure gold; only 24k is pure gold, which you will never find in eyeglass frames. Because you are dealing with an alloy, it is a bit more difficult to understand just how much pure gold your older eyeglass frames contain.

That’s why you should call us. We’ll be happy to help you dig the dollars out of your older gold-filled frames. Call our gold refining experts at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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