Can You Recycle Blue Gold? Who Ever Heard of It?

We’ve already written about pink gold, rose gold, white gold, and even green gold on the Specialty Metals blog. (See related posts below.) We thought we’d seen just about every color, then we found an article entitled “What Can Make a Piece of Gold Turn Blue?” that Esther Inglis-Arkell wrote for io9.com.

Shown: Solutions containing gold nanoparticles. Credit: Aleksandar Kondinski via Wikimedia Commons.

Shown: Solutions containing gold nanoparticles. Credit: Aleksandar Kondinski via Wikimedia Commons.

Ms. Inglis-Arkell, it turns out, wasn’t writing about a blue-toned gold metal. In her excellent article, she describes gold’s remarkable ability to turn water blue – and even lilac-colored, red and purple. She writes about gold, “Believe it or not, it can turn a lilac-blue color . . . you just need the right amount of salt. And plasmons.”

She also writes that over the years, gold has been used to produce blue, red and other dyes that have been used to make stained glass windows and goblets. We always knew that if you saw a gold-tinted rim on something like a glass chalice, there were small amounts of gold there. But Ms. Inglis-Arkell opened our eyes to the fact that small amounts of gold can also be found in dyes that were used to make glass take on a red, blue or purple hue.

Can Valuable Amounts of Gold Be Recycled from Stained or Colored Glass?

Before we all start dreaming about recycling gold by melting down stained glass windows or goblets, we have to remember that the quantities of gold that they contain are tiny - far too small to be extracted in any cost-effective way. (A similar observation applies to gold leaf; you can find a picture frame that is covered in it, for example, yet the actual amount of gold is too small to be profitably extracted. You could spend a lot of money to burn the frame and separate the gold from the ash, but you’d end up with a fraction of a penny’s worth of the precious metal.)

But Ms. Inglis-Arkell’s article does remind us about some other items that contain quantities of gold that are large enough to recycle for a good return on investment . . .

  • Religious items that can be found in churches, temples and other houses of worship. Followers of just about every religion have used gold to beautify items that are used in worship and in decorations for their sanctuaries. You can find some of those items for sale on eBay, or locate some when houses of worship are being sold, renovated or demolished.
  • Religious medals and jewelry. These are the best source of gold that can be recycled. Some such items are made of karat gold. Others are gold-filled or gold-plated. So if you find a gold crucifix, Star of David or other religious item, you have found something with gold that can be extracted by a qualified gold refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners. (If you find a quantity of these items, you will do even better and realize more money after they are recycled.)

What about Silver?

Just like gold, silver can be found in many items that were made for use in religious observances or in decorative items that were created to beautify houses of worship. Of course, silver is less valuable than gold, but it is worth being on the lookout for silver religious items.

And here’s another observation that flows logically from Ms. Inglis-Arkell’s article, which is really about the production of dyes and inks that are used to color glass. The fact is, many inks and dyes do contain quantities of silver that can be recycled. Chemicals that are used to process photographic and x-ray films do too. If you come into possession of such chemicals, they are worth testing for silver content. Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and we will be pleased to explain how you can send them to us for testing. Please be sure to mention this blog post and ask about free or reduced-cost shipping to us.

Related Posts:

Are White, Pink, and other Golds Worth Less than Yellow Gold?  
Can Gold Leaf Be Recycled?  
Can You Reclaim Silver from Printing Ink?  
How to Tell the Difference Between Silver, White Gold and Platinum