“My grandfather was a master jeweler and jewelry repairman,” a caller told us recently. “Unfortunately, he recently passed away, and now we have the job of emptying his workshop. Can you give me some advice on what we should be looking for?”
We are happy to help. Here are some of the materials you will probably find if you ever have to empty old supplies in a jeweler’s workshop, along with some ideas about what they might be worth.
These are the small clasps, loops, bent rings and other pre-manufactured metal pieces that jewelers use to make bracelets, necklaces and other items. How much are they worth? It depends on the kind of work that was done in the workshop. If high-quality gold necklaces, pins and other pieces of fine jewelry were made, chances are some of the findings you will find are made of karat gold. (Why would a good jeweler put a cheap, gold-tone clasp on a genuine gold chain? It wouldn’t make sense.)
Some solid gold, or plated gold, findings are stamped with a karat marking, or with a stamp that indicates that the piece is gold plated. (For example, “24K gold plated.”) But if you are not sure what you are looking at, don’t worry. Call us and we can quickly test your findings and let you know how much gold they contain.
Here, things get a bit complicated. If you find platinum wire, it will be made of pure platinum and hence, it is valuable. If you find silver wire, it is almost certainly made of solid silver. But if you find gold-toned wire, it is harder to tell what you have. A very high-end jeweler will typically have some solid gold wire on hand that he or she used to create decorative rings and other jewelry, and to use as gold solder. A less high-end jeweler, in contrast, will probably only have gold-plated wire that he or she used to repair chains and bracelets.
Again, it is hard to know exactly what you have. Call us, and we can provide some guidance.
Flux and Soldering Supplies
The most common fluxes and soldering equipment you find in most jewelry shops contain only silver. Hence, they are not very valuable. If you are liquidating the contents of a shop that resized gold rings, in contrast, you will probably find gold wire that was used like soldering wire to close rings that were cut open and reduced in size.
So again, it is difficult to know what you have, just by looking. Give us a call to find out more.
Because silver is among the least valuable of the precious metals, silver chains are almost always made of pure sterling silver; you can easily estimate their value by weighting them.
Gold-and gold-toned chains are harder to evaluate. Even if you are liquidating the contents of a high-end jewelry-maker’s workshop, chances are slim that you will find a cardboard roll of solid gold chain, because even short lengths of pure gold chain are quite valuable. So if you find a roll of gold-toned chain, you can be pretty sure that it contains only a small amount of gold, or possibly no gold at all. Call us, tell us what you have, and let us explain further.
Plating Tanks and Supplies
If you are liquidating a facility where items were plated with gold, do not discard plating tanks, plating brushes, filters and mesh sponges, and even pipes that were connected to plating tanks. They almost always contain deposits of gold that are worth reclaiming. Call us to learn more.
Scrap, Powders, Sweepings and Shavings
If you are emptying out a jewelry workshop, be sure to collect metal powder, shavings, and even collections of dirt that have accumulated behind machines and on the floor. It might surprise you to know that those materials, which appear worthless, can be more valuable than the other supplies that we describe above.
Not sure what you have? Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. We are here to answer all your questions about profiting from precious metals.
Are Your Parents Going to a Nursing Home? Here Are the Best Strategies for Dealing with their Jewelry Profiteering Alert: Is Jewelry Scrap the Most Common Source of Karat Gold?
An Invitation to Jewelers, Pawnbrokers and Other Jewelry Professionals to Partner with Us
What Is Karat Gold and How Can You Find Out What Yours Is Worth?