How to Recycle Gold from Old Plating Tanks

How to Recycle Gold from Old Plating Tanks

...Presto! Gold plating has happened. It’s a simple process that has been used for years to apply gold plating to jewelry and other metal items. But today’s post is not about recycling those items. It’s about reclaiming gold from the tanks where the process took place. Let’s take a closer look...

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Recycling Precious Metals – It’s Time You Found Out about Findings

Recycling Precious Metals – It’s Time You Found Out about Findings

Findings are small, pre-manufactured metal items that are used in jewelry production. Chances are pretty good that as you read this post, some of them are right there in the room with you. If you bought a nice silver chain to give your niece for a present, for example, open the box and take a look at it. You’ll see that there is a small ring attached to one end, and some kind of clasp to the other. Those add-on pieces are findings. 

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Five Golden Rings: Have You Got Yours Yet?

Five Golden Rings: Have You Got Yours Yet?

So if there is enough gold on earth for each of us to own five golden rings, have you gotten yours yet? I am not joking, because if you devote some time and energy to acquiring gold, you can get to that five-ring, .76 troy ounce figure more quickly than you expect. Where can you find that gold? For starters, in places like these that you might be overlooking. . .

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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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Need Extra Cash for the Holidays? Why Not Recycle Your Precious Metals Now?

Do you tend to leave a certain number of things unfinished? I know that I do, because I sometimes procrastinate. One example? I have two old snow tires that are leaning against the back wall of my garage. They don’t fit on my current car. I really should figure out what to do with them – sell them on Craigslist or take them to my mechanic to see if he can give me a few dollars for them maybe – but I never quite get around to it. I also have some nice old picture frames that I could cut down and use on some pictures that I have in the house. But do I do it? Of course not.

Many of our customers send us sterling silver flatware, silver-plated tableware and hollowware as shown above for us to refine and recycle.

Many of our customers send us sterling silver flatware, silver-plated tableware and hollowware as shown above for us to refine and recycle.

Another Class of Things You and I Should Attend to

Those are just a few examples of some of the loose threads that need to be tied up in my house and my life. Are you anything like me? If you are, then you have left some things undone too. So you and I should turn our attention to “loose threads” and put some extra dollars in our wallets right now, just in time for holiday spending. 

I’m referring to loose threads that involve precious metals that could potentially be refined and recycled. In my life, they include . . . .

  • A box of old silver-plated tableware that my wife and I inherited from somewhere, about 10 years ago. We don’t like it, we don’t use it, but it’s still sitting around. If I got it together to send it to a top silver refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, I would probably get some cash for it, just in time for the holidays. How much money would I get? I don’t know, but Specialty Metals could tell me in no time at all. And just in case you thought Specialty Metals only deals with businesses, you would be wrong. They work with individuals like you and me, too.
  • A weird little gold charm that I inherited from my parents after they died. Maybe it belonged to my grandfather? It looks sort of like a dragon, only it has a little compartment in its stomach where it is possible to keep  . . . a pill, maybe? Not too sure what. I don’t know whether this strange little item is 18K or 24K gold or just what, but a top gold refinery like Specialty Metals could tell me in no time flat. Who knows, it could be worth a very nice chunk of change. If you look in your dresser drawers, you might find something similar.
  • A large old gold-toned salad fork and spoon that I ended up with somehow. They’re in a drawer in my dining room. I don’t even know where I got them. I doubt that they are made of gold. It’s much more likely that they are silver with some kind of thin gold plated finish on them. Are they worth $5 or $500? I have no way of knowing. But I do know that I can find out very fast by sending them to Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to be tested. And again, it would be good to have a little extra cash for the holidays.

What Are You Procrastinating About?

It’s one thing to be stalling about old snow tires, and another thing to be procrastinating about recycling items that could potentially contain very valuable quantities of precious metals.

So with the holidays coming up soon, today could be the day for you and me to get moving. Let’s call 800-426-2344 to turn the stuff we’ve been stalling about into cold cash.

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Don’t Let Precious Metals Slip through Your Fingers when You’re Liquidating an Estate

I was visiting some cousins of mine a few years ago after their mother – my aunt - had died. While we were sitting around catching up and chatting, one of them came into the room with a jewelry box and said, “Here’s that box of costume jewelry that we were talking about – we should all take a look and pick a few items that we’d like to have.”

Shown: a box of costume jewelry from an inherited estate that could be hiding valuable karat gold and other precious metals.

As they started to pass the box around, I asked “Who said that there’s nothing in there but costume jewelry?”

One of my cousins answered, “Well, mom always said that she kept her costume jewelry in this box.”

I urged them to take a closer look, and one of my cousins pulled out two small items – a small decorative pin and a little pendant watch – that appeared to be made of yellow gold, and which needed a closer examination by a qualified appraiser or precious metals refinery.

As I think you will agree, that story illustrates how easy it is to make quick – and wrong – decisions when liquidating an estate. There are so many details to handle, and so much property to look at, that it is all too easy to let valuable property get away. Here are smart steps to take instead.

Ask a Lot of Questions

That’s what my cousins weren’t doing in the story that I told at the start of today’s post. Their mom had always told them that the jewelry box contained “costume jewelry,” and they accepted that without exploring any further.

People can make this mistake not just with precious metals, but with other estate items too. An “old decorative print that Auntie bought at a tag sale” could be a valuable original oil painting, and “Pop’s favorite old rocking chair” could be a valuable antique. So when you are dealing with an estate, get into the habit of looking at every item with critical eyes – and bring in a qualified appraiser to look everything over.

Avoid Turning Everything Over to One Antique Dealer

Most antique dealers are honest businesspeople who will alert you if they think they have found something valuable among the items that you are liquidating. But even honest antique dealers are in the business of acquiring items and selling them at a profit. If they discover something quite valuable among your items, they will acquire it from you at a low price and then sell it at a profit, because that is their business.

The message is that even though it is time-consuming and complex to look at all the items in an estate to find that one valuable item in 1,000, it can be worth the time you invest. So instead of calling an antique dealer first, consider having an independent appraiser review what you have. To find a qualified appraiser in your area, visit the American Society of Appraisers online.

Let Us Review All Your Metal Items

Most estates contain items that contain precious metals, including jewelry, silver items and silver-plated items. Although many of them might look similar to you, their value can vary dramatically. One example? Two silver-plated spoons that contain identical quantities of silver can be worth very different amounts of money if one of them has collectible value.

If you are not sure what kinds of metal items you have inherited, your next step is to call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. We’re here to provide information, and your call to us could help you discover all the dollars that could be hiding in the estate you have inherited.

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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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Checklist of Places to Look for Precious Metals in Your Home

Where are precious metals hiding in your home? Some of the places are obvious, like silverware, others less so. Appliances can be hiding platinum-bearing thermocouple wire. In addition to circuit boards, your electronics can be hiding gold contacts, pins and other meltables. So we created this checklist for you to use when you’re preparing to sell your home or simply doing some spring cleaning…

Shown: a kitchen filled with buried treasure - precious metal bearing appliances, silverware and more, that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.

Major appliances

  • Electric and gas stoves
  • Air conditioners
  • Refrigerators

Smaller appliances

  • Microwave ovens
  • Toasters and toaster ovens
  • Coffee makers, irons and other devices that generate heat

Household electronics

  • Radios and televisions
  • Remotes
  • Gaming consoles
  • Cellphones
  • Personal computers, computer components, and tablet computers

In the kitchen

Around the house

  • Silver and gold-plated trophies and plaques
  • Silver and gold-plated metal picture frames
  • Gold-plated faucets and bathroom fixtures (rare)
  • Old gold-plated lighting fixtures (rare)
  • Old gold, silver and platinum jewelry of all kinds
  • Old silver and gold-filled eyeglass frames
  • Coin collections
  • Darkroom supplies, chemicals and equipment

And if your spring cleaning uncovers any “buried treasure” in your home, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and we can help you figure out what you’ve got and how much it’s worth.

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

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

The karat measure that’s used to indicate the purity of gold can be pretty confusing. You open your jewelry drawer, look at some old cufflinks, watches and tie tacks, and notice that some items are stamped as 18K (18 karat) gold, others as 10K, and on it goes. Then a ring comes rolling out and it is marked with the European measure “417.” What does that mean?

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

It’s confusing – and it only gets worse if you have a large number of gold and gold-plated items that you would like to recycle. What’s going on here?

We just found a helpful article entitled “Gold: Know the Difference between Karats, Carats and Carrots” on Jewelry.com. It clears up a lot of the confusion about karat and other content ratings. Let me share a few highlights with you.

Karats Are Not the Same as Carats

Karats are used to specify the purity of gold; Carats are used to measure the weight of diamonds. Despite the similarity of those two words, there is no correlation or connection between them.

Karats Offer a Measure of the Purity of the Gold

Here are some explanations of common karat gold designations, all based on the number 24, that are standard in the United States:

  • 24K is pure 100% gold.
  • 18K is 18/24ths gold content, or 75% gold.
  • 14K is 14/24ths gold content, or about 58.5% gold.
  • 10K is 10/24ths gold content, or 41.7% gold.
  • 9K is 9/24ths gold content, or 37.5% gold. Although this karat rating is popular in some countries, jewelry with this low content percentage cannot be labeled “gold” for sale in the United States.

Different Countries Specify Gold’s Purity in Different Ways

As the article explains, the U.S. system uses karat designations to specify purity. Europe has another system, using numbers to designate the percentage of gold content. For example, 10K gold is marked “417,” indicating that it contains 41.7% gold; 14K is marked "585" for 58.5% gold, and so on. That can make it even more challenging to understand the amount of gold that is contained in the gold items that you own.

If you have gold or gold-plated jewelry, or any other gold items that you would like to recycle using America's best gold refiners, Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners can help you understand their potential value. Gather your gold items and call us 800-426-2344.

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Why Money Can Be Found in Your Used Electroplating Supplies

Does your company electroplate thin layers of one metal onto another? Or have you recently acquired quantities of used e-plating equipment or scrap from another company? In either case, you could have something of value on your hands.

Shown: Electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for the recycling of precious metals at the best prices.

Shown: Electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for the recycling of precious metals at the best prices.

Here are the answers to some questions about how electroplating works and where dollars could be hiding.

Why Is Electroplating Done?

Electroplating can be used to beautify metals or protect them from corrosion. Remember the “chrome cruiser cars” of the 1950s, with acres of chrome-plated trim? Similarly, jewelry and tableware can be coated with silver or gold to make them more beautiful. Electroplating is also used to make metals less likely to oxidize – that’s why “tin cans” are actually steel cans that have been electroplated with tin so that the steel will not react chemically with the can’s contents. In addition, durable metals like platinum and palladium are sometimes plated onto softer metals to make them harder or abrasion-resistant.

How Is Electroplating Done?

Let’s look at the most basic way of coating one metal onto another – in an electroplating tank. First, that tank is filled with liquid, called the electrolytic bath, which contains a solution that contains the metal like platinum that will be used as a coating. The object to be plated is immersed in the bath, and connected to the negative terminal of a source of electricity that will flow through the bath. (In other words, the object to be plated becomes the cathode.) Next another piece of metal – one that will not be plated – is connected to the positive terminal and immersed in the liquid. (It becomes the anode.)

When electricity flows through the bath, electrodes of the metal that will become the plating (i.e., silver) adhere to the object that is being plated.

That basic process can vary, depending on the nature of the metal that will form the plating, the object to be plated and other variables. Sometimes, for example, the anode can be made of the metal that will be used as a coating; electrodes from it will flow to the object to be coated. But even though there are variations, that’s basically how tank e-plating works.

Why Can Used E-plating Materials and Supplies Be Worth Money?

There are several reasons. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. Tanks, filters, mesh screens, piping and other equipment can have become coated with quantities of the gold, palladium or the other precious metals that have been used as platings.
  2. If a tank has been used to apply alloys of precious metals, the “used” cathodes can still contain quantities of precious metals that can be quite valuable.
  3. The used electrolytic fluid, and any “sludge” that accumulated on the bottom of tanks or elsewhere, can contain quantities of the precious metal that was used as a plating.

Want to Know What Your Used E-Plating Materials are Worth?

Several factors can determine how much value you have in used electroplating supplies – the kind of metal that was used as plating, for example. If you have quantities of these potentially valuable recyclables on hand, why not call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. Tell us what you have and we’ll be pleased to help you claim the hidden dollars that could be hiding in it.

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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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