How to Avoid Being Fooled when You Go Looking for Gold

How to Avoid Being Fooled when You Go Looking for Gold

You go looking for gold and . . . you find some! Maybe you go to an antique store and find a piece of jewelry that looks like pure, shiny gold, but you find out later that it is only covered with a thin gold plating. Or you discover a gold nugget and find out that it is only a cheap collectible that has been created to look like the real thing, but isn’t.

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Can You Recycle Items that Have Gold or Silver Appliqués? What Are They Worth?

Can You Recycle Items that Have Gold or Silver Appliqués? What Are They Worth?

What is an appliqué? It is a small decorative piece of silver or gold that is applied to another metal. The word appliqué is French, meaning “applied.” (An appliqué is also a piece of fabric that is sewn onto a garment as a decoration, but that is not the kind of appliqué we are writing about in today’s post.)

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Why There Is Money to Be Made Recycling Metal Pieces You Can’t Identify

Why There Is Money to Be Made Recycling Metal Pieces You Can’t Identify

We found it at the bottom of a small bin of metal scrap that a client had sent to us for analysis. It was a little piece of gold-toned metal, about half an inch long. It was shaped like a barrel, with ribs running along it from end to end. We thought it was a bead, but it didn’t have a hole running through its middle - the kind of hole that would enable it to be used as part of a necklace. Our best guess was that it was part of a larger piece of jewelry - something that had fallen off a brooch or maybe even a tiara. There were no karat markings or other identifiers, so we figured it was made of base metal that had been covered with a thin plating of gold. But what the heck, we tested it and discovered that it was, in fact, made of 12-karat gold.

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The Cash Cleanup . . .

The Cash Cleanup . . .

If you forgot to do any spring cleaning, these energizing autumn days can be a good time to get going. If you do, there is a pretty good chance that you’ll discover some items that will provide you with a bigger payback than you realize. Here are some items that are lying around my house. Odds are pretty good that they can be recycled very profitably by a top precious metals refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners. 

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Recycling Gold Filled Scrap - Big Dollars Could Be Hiding in Small Items

Jewelry manufacturers have recently gotten very good at depositing extremely thin layers of gold onto other metals. The result? Most of the gold-plated pieces of jewelry that have been manufactured in the last few years are not worth recycling at all. The cost of refining the gold they contain is higher than the value of the gold itself.

Image of an assortment of karat gold and gold-filled jewelry, which Specialty Metals can recycle and refine for the best prices for individuals and businesses.

But if you have large quantities of older gold-filled items, that is another story. As recently as 20 years ago, manufacturers of the following items were applying far thicker platings of gold than are common today . . .

  • Gold-filled Jewelry – Even small pins, bracelets, and chains can contain quantities of gold that are worth recycling. It is also worth remembering that as recently as only a few decades ago, relatively inexpensive watches often had gold-filled cases that contained quantities of gold that can be quite valuable today.
  • Trophies, plaques, and commemorative items – Today, they contain very little gold. But in years past, that was not the case. If you have a quantity of them, they can be well worth recycling.
  • Gold-filled Eyeglass frames It is easy to overlook the value that resides in them, because they are small and lightweight. But to restate the point, older gold-filled eyeglass frames – those made 20 or more years ago – contain much more gold than frames that are manufactured today.
  • Gold-filled plates, dishes, cutlery, candlesticks and other items – If you’re lucky enough to own quantities of older items, you could be sitting on quite a valuable quantity of gold.

Stampings to Look for on Gold-Filled Items

Look over the gold-filled items that you have. Not all gold-filled scrap items will be stamped with numbers that indicate how much gold they contain. But if you do notice numbers like these stamped onto items, here is that they mean:

  • “1/10 10K” means that 1/10 of the weight of your item is 10K (10 karat) gold.
  • “1/10 12K” means that 1/10 the weight of your frame is 12K gold. And so on.

If you have large quantities of gold-plated and gold-filled scrap, call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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Ask a Gold Refinery - What’s the Difference between Gold-Plated and Gold-Filled Eyeglass Frames?
There Could Be More Gold in Old Commemoratives and Trophies than You Think

There Could Be More Gold in Old Commemoratives and Trophies than You Think

A late uncle of mine was very active in his community. He was a member of the Rotary Club and an avid amateur golfer who took part in local tournaments at a country club where he and his wife had a membership. He also worked for the same company for decades and really did get the classic gold watch at his retirement dinner.

Photo of old gold-plated commemorative trophies that can be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners.

As a result of all those activities, his kids ended up with a lot of metal objects – more than 10 lapel pins, a few tie tacks, a commemorative belt buckle, a money clip from his country club, a high-quality Swiss watch with the name of his country club imprinted on its face, a mantle shelf full of golf trophies, not to mention that gold-toned Bulova Accutron that he got when he retired in about 1970. He also attended various formal functions – they used to be a lot more common than they are now – and he had two sets of tuxedo-shirt studs, also gold.

What is all that stuff worth? It depends. But a number of those items date from the 1960s and 1970s. Those were the days when gold was cheaper than it is today, and relatively inexpensive commemorative items could contain significant quantities of it. Several of the pins that my cousins inherited, for example, are stamped “18K” (18 karat) on their backs, which means that they were either gold-plated or filled with quantities of gold that could be worth sending to a qualified gold refinery.

What About Trophies?

The answer is again, it depends. Most modern trophies are not worth much – they are plated with very thin layers of gold, hardly worth extracting. The older trophies are, the more likely it is that they will contain quantities of gold or silver that are worth recycling.

How old? Again, it depends, because there is no exact date when trophy-makers stopped applying thicker layers of silver or gold plating to their products.

If you own some of the items described above, why not call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and tell us what you have? One dresser drawer full of lapel pins, tie tacks or other commemorative silver and gold jewelry could be worth more money than you expect.

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What We Found While Hunting for Precious Metals on eBay

What will you find if you go to eBay and search for “gold,” “platinum,” “silver,” and other precious metals? It’s an interesting and potentially valuable experiment that can lead you to discover sources of precious metals that weren’t on your radar.

Here are some of the surprising items that we found . . .

Some results of our eBay Search for Gold . . .

Shown: an assortment of antique gold, silver and platinum items that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.
  • Covers for Kleenex boxes
  • Compacts and lipstick cases
  • Religious medals, crucifixes and mezuzahs
  • Fountain pens and mechanical pencils
  • Commemorative watches of many kinds
  • Rings, earrings, pendants, pins, and charms for charm bracelets
  • Pins from service clubs such as the Masons and the Kiwanis
  • Blazer buttons
  • Zippo lighters
  • Commemorative medals and coins
  • A gold-plated set of bar tools
  • A gold-covered wooden Buddha
  • A set of gold-filled demitasse coffee spoons
Shown: an assortment of silver and gold buttons items that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.

Some results of our eBay Search for Silver . . .

  • Silver-plated punch bowls, plates, and tableware
  • Silver bullion bars that celebrate and commemorate events
  • A set of silver casino tokens
  • Silver buttons
  • Religious coins and medals
  • Lighter and lipstick cases
  • World War II military collectables
  • A set of silver lids for Mason Jars

Some results of our eBay Search for Platinum . . .

Photo of antique fountain pens containing platinum gold and silver that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.
  • Ballpoint and fountain pens
  • A set of antique fountain pen nibs
  • A vintage platinum box for carrying condoms
  • Commemorative buttons and pins for Harley-Davidson motorcycles and other products
  • An old platinum pin given to member of The Order of Lenin (USSR)
  • Old platinum-edged razor blades
  • A platinum cigarette holder

A Worthwhile Exercise

The virtual “field trip” that we took to eBay to search for precious metals turned out to be worthwhile. We had never stopped to think that old fountain pen nibs could be made of platinum, for example, or that covers for Zippo lighters were made from gold and silver. And what about gold-plated covers for Kleenex boxes?

Interesting, right? And possibly valuable too.  If you own an antique store or are cleaning out a house, doing your own search on eBay could help you discoverer items that could be more valuable than they appear.

Related Posts:

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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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What Is Karat Gold and How Can You Find Out What Yours Is Worth?