Simple Steps to Protect Yourself from Gold Fakes and Forgeries

Simple Steps to Protect Yourself from Gold Fakes and Forgeries

Every few months we hear another story about a crime involving precious metals. Another one came along last week, when the Metropolitan Museum in New York packed up a golden Egyptian coffin it owned and shipped it back to Egypt, from where it was stolen in 2011. The Met acquired the coffin in 2017 from an antiquities dealer. The only problem was, it still belonged to Egypt. (You can read the full story in “Ancient Gold Coffin Returned to Egypt from New York as Looted Antiquity,” an article that was published by the Associated Press on September 25, 2019.)

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Where to Find Great Big Chunks of Gold

Where to Find Great Big Chunks of Gold

If you read this blog regularly, you have noticed that a lot of our blog posts give advice on where you can find little quantities of gold. We have written about how we can extract small amounts of gold from gold-plated jewelry, from old eyeglass frames, from printed circuit boards, and even from small piles of sweepings from factory floors.

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We Will Be Here

We Will Be Here

We Will Be Here Tomorrow . . . Be sure to entrust your precious metals to us

We learned that Republic Metals Corporation filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on November 2nd. Republic, one of the largest gold and silver refineries in the United States, was one of our competitors.

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Make More Money Recycling Precious Metals with this Special List of Our Best 2015 Blog Posts

Make More Money Recycling Precious Metals with this Special List of Our Best 2015 Blog Posts

Last year we published a list of the most popular blog posts that we ran in 2014 – the ones that had been viewed by the most people and that had generated the greatest number of comments. We’ve created a different list of best posts this year. They are posts that contain the kind of useful information that can quickly put a lot of money in your pocket – maybe even in time for the holidays. 

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Are Gold Prices about to Rebound? And What Should You Do if they Are?

Are Gold Prices about to Rebound? And What Should You Do if they Are?

We are in the business of recycling gold from a number of sources. We work with gold scrap, electrical devices, old jewelry and even ore and sand.  What is our best advice about what you should do today if you have recyclable gold-bearing materials – perhaps materials that you have been holding until gold prices increase?

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Recycling Precious Metals: Our Top Blog Posts of 2014

Recycling Precious Metals: Our Top Blog Posts of 2014

Recycling precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium can be a complicated business. There could be treasure hiding in the most unusual places, and businesses and consumers alike are always on the lookout for tips, tricks and advice. Our top blog posts, as determined by our readers, represent a collection of knowledge you may find just as worthwhile to read as they have.

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Raise Money for Your Favorite Cause with a Gold Drive

A gold drive can be a great way to raise money for religious institutions, charities, hospital or other causes that you support, whether you are a local business, a manufacturer with ties to your community or just as an individual who wants to help a good cause.

Best of all, gold drives are simple to set up and run. You ask people to donate cellphones, old remote control devices, or old eyeglasses. You then send the items that you collect to our qualified precious metals refinery, and we send you payments.

Photo of people in a recycling drive to collect gold-bearing devices like old phones to raise money for their favorite cause with the help of a qualified gold refinery like Specialty Metals.  

It sounds simple, and it is. Yet here are some suggestions for running a successful gold drive.

Select and specify the specific items that you will collect

You can focus on older cellphones, on remote-control devices, on eyeglasses and eyeglass frames – or on a combination of those items. Even in rural areas, it is possible to collect a surprisingly large number of older cellphones every month.

Work with the staff of the cause that you are supporting

The people who work there can do a lot to assure the success of your efforts. They can place collection bins in front of their premises and elsewhere. They can also announce the gold drive in their publications, place articles with local newspapers and websites, utilize their staff to help monitor and run the drive, and provide other assistance to help assure success. And if you are a business, you can use your own location as a collection center as well, strengthening your ties to your community and bringing in additional traffic.

Allow enough time to spread the word

It can also be a good idea to make your drive open-ended – not something that you run for just a few months, but an ongoing activity that will become known and generate income in the years ahead. It takes time for people to learn about drives and to respond. 

Consider involving students

High school students, members of scouting organizations, and other young people today are often eager to participate in projects that help their communities. With just a few calls, you could recruit young people who can go door-to-door, stand in front of stores to promote your drive, and do lots of other “legwork” that can make your drive a success.

Let Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners Help You Succeed

We are ready to help make your gold drive an ongoing success.  To learn more, call us at 800-426-2344.

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Open Things Up, Find Precious Metals, Make Money

In the last five years, I have been in two old buildings that contained large old safes that could not be opened. One building was a small inn in New Hampshire, the other was a former plumbing supply store in New Jersey. In both instances, the buildings had recently been purchased, so the safes and their contents belonged to the new owners. But those owners didn’t seem to be in a big hurry to bring in a locksmith to open the safes to determine what was inside.

If I owned those safes, I would have been in a hurry. What were the new owners waiting for? I have no idea, because “closed boxes” sometimes contain surprisingly valuable items. And “closed boxes” can come in many forms . . .

As this photo shows, you never know what precious metal objects you might find in your house that Specialty Metals can recycle into extra money for you.

Clutter Lying Around the House

A cousin of mine who was cleaning up his basement storage shelves found a box that he and his wife had never opened. When he looked inside, he discovered a set of silver-plated candlesticks from a prestigious store. Where had they come from? Was it a wedding present that he and his wife had never bothered to open? He and his wife didn’t know, but they did know that they had something on their hands that was worth money.

Small Items Hiding in Drawers

When I open my dresser drawer and review what is rolling around in there, a lot of items appear worthless. But I also see a set of very old tuxedo-shirt studs that came from “somewhere” and look like gold. There is also an old set of cufflinks, which came from the same “somewhere.” I could use some cash for holiday spending. I should send them to a trustworthy, qualified gold refiner and recycler like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners for testing.

Inherited Items

I know people who inherited “stuff” from parents or grandparents, and who have never quite gotten around to taking a close look at it or having it appraised. They have just put it all aside. It can be a good and very profitable idea to review what you have inherited, especially if you are lucky enough to have acquired items like coin collections or chests of jewelry. If you open them up, you might find one or two small items that are worth a lot of money.

Items Hidden in Older Homes

This is a long shot, I know. But I also know that when some renovations were being completed in the old house where I grew up, we found a collection of old books hidden behind a false wall by the basement stairs. They were not worth much of anything. But if you have an old house, it could be a good idea to look around. In the old days, it seems that people liked to hide valuable things in houses.  That newer patch of cement in the basement floor could be hiding something. So could a floorboard in your bedroom. Remember, metal detectors can be used indoors as well as outdoors. If you have an old home, you could turn up something quite valuable.

Keys to Safety Deposit Boxes

If you have inherited the personal possessions of an older relative who has passed away, have you taken a close look at his or her keys? If any of them are stamped with the name of a bank, you could have the opportunity to discover things of value like gold jewelry that your relative wanted to protect in a safety deposit box.

A Note on Unclaimed Safety Deposit Boxes

If you search online for “unclaimed bank safety deposit box auctions” you will probably find them in your state. Don’t get your hopes up too high, however, that you will buy an unopened deposit box and discover piles of gold in it. The problem is that in virtually all cases, those boxes have been opened by the bank so that their contents could be turned over to the state agency that attempts to return unclaimed property to its owners. The items that go on sale at auction are those that could not be returned – and if they are worth a lot of money, they have already been “discovered” and will be selling for high prices.

Find Something? Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners

Even small items that contain precious metals can be worth money – money that could come in very handy at the time of year when the holiday shopping season is about to begin. Why not contact Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to learn more?

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What Are Your Collectable Medals Worth?

When a medal sold for $1.47 million last year, lots of people started to dust off their medals and look at them with renewed interest. Granted, that medal was something unbelievably special. It was one of the four gold medals won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. (Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?)

If you own a commemorative medal – or maybe a quantity of them - how much value do you have in hand? It depends, because the value of medals depends on several factors.

Commemorative medals like those in this picture may have more value as collector's items... but older medals frequently contain more precious metals, too.

Commemorative medals like those in this picture may have more value as collector's items... but older medals frequently contain more precious metals, too.

The Collectable Worth

The value of a commemorative medal is affected by a number of factors that include age, country of origin, rarity, and the history of the person or event honored by the medal. (This could be harder to determine, especially if you obtained the medals at an estate sale, garage sale or antique dealer.) How can you research those variables? Here are resources to use . . .

  • Contact an independent appraiser or expert. These organizations can help you connect with one: The American Numismatic Society; the American Numismatic Association; the Token and Medal Society. Note that it is wisest not to get your medals appraised by a dealer who then buys them; if dishonest, he or she could be lowballing you and stealing dollars right out of your pocket.
  • Research the sales of similar or identical medals at auctions. You can start out by checking previous or current sales of similar medals on eBay. Another option is to visit the websites of auction houses that regularly hold auctions of medals and medallic art. They include: Bonhams; Christies; and Spink.

The Value of the Metals that Your Medals Contain

If your medal(s) do not have high collectable value, your next step is to determine the metals that they are made of.

How can you tell? Sometimes it is easy. Jesse Owens’s gold medal was made of real gold, of course. And silver and bronze medals are often (but not always) made of those metals too. Sometimes, commemorative medals will come with documentation that spells out exactly which metals they contain, especially if they are military medals.

Short of such clear signals, it can be difficult to know the makeup of the medals that you own. There are variables, including country of origin and age. In general, newer commemoratives – especially those manufactured in large quantities over the last few years – are apt to contain lower quantities of precious metals than are older medals that were issued in small editions.

If you are trying to determine the value of the metals in a batch of commemorative medals, your wisest strategy is to contact a qualified precious metals recycler or refiner, like Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners.

To Summarize Your Steps . . .

To sum up the advice in today’s post, your first step is to establish the collectible value of your medals. Then, if they do not have high value to collectors, you should determine the value of the precious metals that they contain. For that, you need the services of a top precious metals refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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What Are Eco-Gold and Ethical Gold?

I recently overheard a young woman say, “My fiancé and I are planning to buy wedding rings that are made of eco-gold.”

That got me headed to my computer quickly so I could investigate. I quickly discovered eco-gold and ethical gold, two kinds of gold that have certain similarities. I also discovered that the gold recycling that is done at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners has a lot to do with both kinds. Let’s take a closer look.

Eco-gold jewelry is made from recycled gold and has a lower environmental impact. Here at Specialty Metals we're proud to adhere to the highest environmental standards.

Eco-gold jewelry is made from recycled gold and has a lower environmental impact. Here at Specialty Metals we're proud to adhere to the highest environmental standards.


This term seems to be a modern, environmentally informed way of defining gold that contains a high percentage of recycled gold. One example? Jewelry that is manufactured using gold that we have reclaimed at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners. People are attracted to the idea of eco-gold for some very valid reasons:

  1. Mining gold is hard on the environment and recycled eco-gold is kinder to the earth, air and carbon consumption
  2. Reusing gold is a more efficient and respectful use of natural resources than mining is
  3. In addition, many people seem to like the idea of wearing gold jewelry that is made of recycled old gold that once belonged to other people. To them, it adds to the richness and appeal of owning gold jewelry.

Ethical Gold

Ethical gold is the metallic equivalent of diamonds that have been mined responsibly. Like them, ethical gold must be . . .

  1. Mined without the use of child laborers
  2. Mined accordance with local environmental laws and labor standards
  3. Delivered with a “traceable” history that shows that it has been mined and transported legally
  4. Produced in countries that have responsible governments that are not engaged in persecution of citizens, genocide, or other unacceptable practices

What Are the Opposites of Eco-Gold and Ethical Gold?

I discovered that people who like eco- and ethical gold have coined another term, “dirty gold,” that defines gold that has been produced in ways that do not meet their environmental or ethical requirements.

Doing Business with Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners

So, what does this all mean if you recycle gold with us at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners? For one thing, you will be doing the right thing by recycling your gold with us, because every ounce of gold that we recycle and refine here is an ounce of gold that does not need to be extracted from the ground. From an ethical perspective, we have a long history of adhering to highest ethical and environmental standards.

We also believe that the demand for eco-gold and ethical gold can only be good for our industry in the long term. Doing things responsibly is best for everyone who works in the metals industries.

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What Is the Mohs Scale?

If you’re familiar with precious metals, you already know that the purity of gold is measured in karats. But do you know that gold is also rated on the Mohs Scale, where it ranks very low?

But don’t start to worry about that low ranking of any gold you own. The Mohs Scale is a measure of gold’s hardness and scratch-resistance, not an indication of its dollar value.

But what is this other scale that is used to classify metals? Let’s explore.

What Is the Mohs Scale?

Mohs Scale Image Courtesy of Wikipedia,

Mohs Scale Image Courtesy of Wikipedia,

The Mohs Scale, which is sometimes called the Mohs Scale of Mineral Harness, was invented in 1812 by a German geologist named Friedrich Mohs, who was trying to create a system to compare the hardness of different minerals. He knew, for example, that talc was an extremely soft mineral. But was it softer than gypsum, another very soft mineral?

Because Mohs saw the value of having a way to compare the specific softness of different minerals, he decided that he could contrast their resistance to being scratched. When he tried to scratch talc and gypsum, for example, he determined that less force was required to scratch talc, so talc appeared below gypsum on his new hardness scale.

What mineral is at the very top of the Mohs Scale? As you probably guessed, it is the diamond, which is pure carbon, and extremely resistant to being scratched. It rates a 10.

Where Do Metals Fall on the Mohs Scale?

In other words, which metals are easiest to scratch, and which are the hardest? Here’s a rundown.

  • Extremely soft (rating of 1.5 on the Mohs Scale) - lead and tin
  • Very soft (2.5 - 3) - magnesium, gold, silver, aluminum, zinc, copper
  • Moderately soft (3.5 - 4) - iron and nickel
  • Moderately hard (4.5) - platinum and steel
  • Very hard (5 - 7) - palladium, beryllium, molybdenum, titanium, manganese, rhodium, uranium
  • Extremely hard (7+) - tungsten, chromium

The History of Hardness

For thousands of years, metals have been mixed together – alloyed – to create a harder metal. In ancient times, that quest for hardness led to the creation of bronze (a mixture of tin and copper), which was created to be a harder version of copper that could be used in weapons and tools. Later on, we have other alloys like brass, pewter and steel.

So in many cases, the aim in creating alloys has been to add hardness to a metal that was already in widespread use. In other words, most modern alloys have been created to improve their rating on the Mohs Scale.

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Recent Rare Coin Discoveries Teach a Valuable Lesson to Us All

If you’ve ever cleaned out an old family home, you’ve probably had the experience of opening a dresser drawer and finding a large quantity of coins rolling around there – the pocket change that some relative of yours tossed there 20, 30, or even 40 years ago.

On first glance, those coins usually appear to be nothing more than regular pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. It’s tempting to give them a very quick once-over before spending them or depositing them in a bank.

Photo of silver coins that Specialty Metals can recycle and refine for your company.

But the fact is, appearances can be deceiving. Even if you come across a batch of coins that don’t look unusual, it is still worth taking them to a reputable coin dealer and having them examined. Even a coin that looks unremarkable could have collectable value. And there is also the chance that you have discovered one gold or silver coin that is really valuable – either for its rarity or its gold or silver content – that you could easily overlook.

Coins End Up in Unusual Places

Two very unusual stories about coins have made the news recently. Both illustrate that it can be a costly mistake to make a snap judgment about what you are looking at after you discover a collection of coins.

As these stories prove, batches of coins can contain some very surprising secrets.

  • Discovery oneAn ancient Roman coin was discovered in northern Russia. When a team of archaeologists was recently excavating and examining the contents of an eleventh-century mound in Novgorod, Russia, they found a fourth-century Roman coin buried there. They guess that a Russian pilgrim to the holy land had acquired the coin and brought it back with him – but there is no way to know exactly how that old coin traveled so far. Coins do that – they seem to have a magical life of their own.
  • Discovery twoTwenty-six Iron Age and Roman coins were found in a cave in Derbyshire, England. It is not too unusual to discover a batch of old coins. But one recent find in England is very odd because it co-mingled coins that come from very different civilizations. Some of the coins are Roman issues that were apparently hidden there before the Romans had even occupied Great Britain. How did they get there? The archaeologists who found them are puzzled.

What Rare Coin Discoveries Will You Make?

Again, let’s remember that unusually valuable coins can be hidden in older coin collections and odd lots. If you come across coins with valuable quantities of precious gold or silver, call us at 800-426-2344. We’re here to help solve the mystery of what your discoveries could be worth. More importantly, we are the precious metals refinery that can turn your discovery into cold, shiny cash.

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Four Kinds of Easy-to-Overlook Electronic Devices that Contain Gold

We’ve written on this blog about many kinds of electronic devices that contain gold that can be recycled by a top precious metals refinery. We’ve covered laptop computers, tablet computers, cellphones, and even the circuit boards that can be found in junked cars.

Shown: gold-bearing circuit board inside of a VCR, which can be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals.

Shown: gold-bearing circuit board inside of a VCR, which can be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals.

Today, we’d like to give you a checklist of other easily overlooked electronic devices that contain gold too:

Remotes of All Kinds

Just about every household has a batch of old remote control devices for old TVs, VCRs, and more lying around, sometimes quite a few. And each of them contains a small printed circuit board that contains a small quantity of gold.

Old Stereo Components

Stereo amplifiers and receivers contain printed circuit boards that contain gold. The good news is that older components often contain more gold than newer ones do. If you have a quantity of them - in your town recycling facility, perhaps? – you could be sitting on dollars too.

VCRs, CD Players and DVD players

These “tossable” electronic devices pile up in recycling centers, in the back rooms of electronics retailers, and even in private homes. Yet they too contain printed circuit boards that contain precious gold that is worth extracting.

Older CB, Ham, and Shortwave Radios

Before the Internet age, hobbyists used them all to communicate with people in distant areas. Today, they have gone largely out of style. Yet they can still contain quantities of gold that can be reclaimed.

Two Ways to Collect Quantities of these Devices to Recycle

  • If you are a charity that is already conducting a collection campaign for used cellphones, ask people to contribute these items too.
  • If you would like to start a lucrative side business, run ads online or in local newspapers stating that you will buy the items described above.

Once you have a large quantity of any of this electronic scrap, give us a call at 800-426-2344 and we’ll be happy to explain how you can recover the gold that they contain.

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Watch the Gold You Can Recycle from Circuit Boards Pile Up in these Videos

Looking for Gold? Leave No Stone (or Nugget) Unturned

On an episode of the poplar A&E show “Storage Wars: Texas” this season, Victor pulled an old Art Deco-style lighter out of a drawer. He decided to see what it was worth, took it to an appraiser, and learned that it was worth $4,200. Good thinking, Victor. You can read the story here.

Photo of 22-Karat gold toilet paper, courtesy of the Odd and Strange blog, which reminds us that gold can be found in the strangest places, but that Specialty Metals can turn it into profit for you.

Photo of 22-Karat gold toilet paper, courtesy of the Odd and Strange blog, which reminds us that gold can be found in the strangest places, but that Specialty Metals can turn it into profit for you.

That story reminds us that over the years, lots of everyday items have turned out to contain more gold than anybody expected. It also reminds us that companies around the world continue to use gold in the manufacture of a lot more products than you might expect. Here’s a list of some of them that you can read about in “Weird Stuff: 10 Ridiculous Things Made of Gold” on the Odd and Strange blog. We’re telling you about them today because they could open your eyes to the presence of gold-containing items that are hiding in plain sight in your place of business or home.

A $24,000 Shirt Woven with Gold

It took 15 goldsmiths to make this dazzling garment for an Indian gold dealer. It reminds us that in years past, it was not uncommon to weave bright metal fibers into women’s ball gowns and other clothing, including silver and even gold. Do you have any of them on hand?

Gold-Plated Pencils

Made in Korea, these flashy pencils are a relative bargain at only $20 apiece. They remind us that in years past, fountain and ballpoint pens often had gold-plated barrels, nibs, clips, and other metal parts. Do you have any of those on hand?

A Gold Coffin, Made in Italy

This $400,000 gold-plated casket is for those who want to go out in high style. If you have one of these lying around you will certainly know it. Yet it reminds us that a number of older funerary items, including urns for ashes and frames for commemorative items, could be partially gold-plated. So take a look around.

Gold Staples

You can buy 24 gold staples (14K gold to be more precise), made in England, for $210. They remind us that older commemorative desktop items – the kind of rewards that used to be given to employees to thank them for decades of service – were often gold-plated too. So open your desk drawers and take a look.

A Gold Christmas Tree

It’s made in Japan and sells for $2 million. Again, you will know it if you have one of these lying around. But it reminds us that older Christmas decorations from the Victorian era and earlier ages can contain quantities of gold. Why not dust off your ornaments and take closer look?

And Still More Gold Items . . .

The Odd and Strange Stuff blog also mentions cheese, ice cream, and lemonade that are currently being manufactured with gold. Also, there is solid-gold toilet paper, made in Australia, that sells for $1,376,900 per roll. It’s supposed to be very gentle on the skin. It makes us think that people are really crazy. But it also reminds us that items that contain gold can be found anywhere – buried underground, rolling around in drawers, hidden under floorboards, sitting on our mantles, hanging from our Christmas trees.

It pays to look around. If you find anything promising, give us a call at 800-426-2344. We’ll be happy to share your discoveries and find ways to help them put dollars into your pocket.

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