Gold Refining: Why It Takes an Expert to Evaluate Your Gold-Plated Items

If you have gold-plated items that you’d like to recycle, how much will they be worth? That’s a difficult question to answer, for many reasons:

Photo of gold-plated circuit boards that that Specialty Metals customers have shipped to us for recycling and refining at the best prices.
  • The thickness and purity of the gold plating can vary from item to item and age to age. Modern circuit boards, for example, are usually plated with a very thin layer of very pure gold. Old gold-plated jewelry, in contrast, could have much thicker layers of more impure gold.
  • When components have been soldered onto a gold surface on circuit boards, the purity of the gold at those junctures has usually been compromised. Another complication is that the gold that is used to plate the edge connectors on circuit boards (the places where multi-wire connectors slide onto the boards) is usually softer and thicker than the gold that covers other areas of the boards.
  • The gold that is used to plate the ends of electrical connectors often contains nickel or cobalt, which needs to be extracted by your gold refiner before the gold can be weighed and evaluated.
  • When gold is plated directly onto copper, copper atoms tend to diffuse through the gold, making it less pure. And in some plating operations, a layer of nickel is applied between the gold and the “main” metal underneath; that too can compromise the purity of the gold.

Sophisticated Testing Is Needed before Refining Gold-Plated Items

All those variables explain why the value of gold-plated items can only be determined by qualified experts who have access to sophisticated smelting and testing equipment. If you have gold-plated items and would like an expert analysis of how much they are worth, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344.

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