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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Big Quantities Can Equal Big Profits

Big Quantities Can Equal Big Profits

...When You Recycle These Gold-Plated Items

While you’re poking around at the antiques mall you notice a pair of gold-plated earrings sitting in a tray. You could snag them for less than $10.00, but why bother? They are going to contain only maybe 50 cents worth of gold at best. So you walk on by and keep looking for more interesting items.

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Where Precious Metals Could Be Hiding in Your Home

Where Precious Metals Could Be Hiding in Your Home

Before you hop in your car and go looking for precious metals at home sales, in open fields, at antique stores and the other common places visited by people who hunt for gold and precious metals, why not ask this simple question? Are precious metals hiding right under your nose, right there in your home? The simple fact is, they could be. Here are some places that should be on your radar… 

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Be on the Alert for Strange Objects Made from Precious Metals

Be on the Alert for Strange Objects Made from Precious Metals

Over the years, people have made all kinds of common-looking objects out of gold, platinum and silver. If you’re not alert, you could pass them by when you search for precious metal items in antique stores, estate sales, and even online auctions

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Is It Time to Talk to Your Parents about their Precious Metals?

Is It Time to Talk to Your Parents about their Precious Metals?

If your parents, grandparents or other family elders are downsizing or moving into adult living communities, this could be a good time to talk to them about the silverware, jewelry and other precious metal items they own. Why talk to them today? Consider these reasons...

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Silver Bullets, Golden Guns

Silver Bullets, Golden Guns

Silver bullets have figured in legends, TV shows and movies for years. The Lone Ranger, a hero from the early days of TV, fired silver bullets as symbols of justice and honor. Golden guns have been the stuff of legend too. One example? In the film “The Man with the Golden Gun,” an evil assassin named Scaramanga, who packs a golden gun, is trying to shoot James Bond. Are there really silver bullets and gold guns that you should be on the lookout for? Can you find some in antique stores or for sale online, buy them at low prices, and recycle them profitably with us? Let’s take a closer look.

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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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Can Gold Leaf Be Recycled?

Let’s start today’s post with a question . . .

Where have you seen the most gold during the course of your life?

If you can answer that question, I am willing to bet that you will come up with an unexpected response. Because you see, most of us have seen gold most often in objects that have been covered with gold leaf. I am talking about objects like these . . .

  • Older gold-leafed wooden frames that we see on paintings in museums, in antique stores, and in our own homes.
  • Interiors of churches and other elegant buildings where gold leaf has been used on altars, walls and columns, and other architectural elements.
  • Mosaics, where gold leaf has been applied to tiles or put between layers of glass to create an impression of richness or light.
  • Old statuary, which was sometimes gold-plated to create the impression that it was made of solid gold.

What Is Gold Leaf, and What Is It Worth?

Shown: Gold coins and a pack of 100 gold leaves from Bangkok, Thailand. Each gold leaf is less than a micrometer thick (typically about 100 nm) and is so light and delicate that the smallest puff of air can blow it away. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Shown: Gold coins and a pack of 100 gold leaves from Bangkok, Thailand. Each gold leaf is less than a micrometer thick (typically about 100 nm) and is so light and delicate that the smallest puff of air can blow it away. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Since ancient times, people have been hammering gold into very thin sheets that can be applied to other surfaces. It’s been possible to do that because of gold’s extreme softness and malleability. In the ancient world, pure 24-karat gold was sometimes beaten into leaf. Over time as more sophisticated manufacturing processes have been developed to produce gold leaf, it has become possible to use lower-karat gold, and even alloys of gold combined with other metals that have included silver. And then we come to modern times, when colorings have been introduced to create gold leaf sheets that contain very little real gold at all.

If you come into possession of a quantity of unused sheets of gold leaf, what are they worth? It depends on two factors . . .

  • The nature of the metal itself – its karat classification. To determine how much karat gold it really contains, send it to a qualified gold refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.
  • The weight of the gold leaf. Because only a few ounces of gold can be beaten into enough gold leaf to cover many square feet of other surfaces, even a packet of several hundred small sheets of gold leaf can weight very little.

If you have gold leaf and send it to us, we can evaluate those variables and get back to you with an appraisal of what your gold leaf is worth.

What about Refining the Gold from Gold-Plated Objects?

If you have a large number of gold-plated picture frames, for example, can they be recycled? In most cases, the answer to that question is no – even a large gold-leaf-covered frame can contain only a very small amount of gold. Plus, the process of removing the gold from wooden or other surfaces is complex and costly.

But you could also have some object on hand that could contain more gold than you expect, such as older gilt jewelry or statuary. If you have gold-leaf-covered objects and don’t know what they might be worth, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you understand their value.

 

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Unexpected Places where Precious Metals Can Be Hiding

Sometimes it is easy to see precious metals when you come across them. You see some bright, shiny gold dust in the sand at the bottom of a stream for example, or open a dresser drawer and find your late aunt’s silver dinnerware there. Or maybe you open a box in an old jewelry factory and it is full of shiny silver wires that were once used to manufacture rings and chains.

But many precious metals are not so visible to the naked eye. Some of them seem to be “hiding in plain sight,” or just plain hiding.

Shown: Used silver recovery columns sent to Specialty Metals for the profitable extraction and recycling of the electrolytic silver flake residue they still contain.

Shown: Used silver recovery columns sent to Specialty Metals for the profitable extraction and recycling of the electrolytic silver flake residue they still contain.

Here is a checklist of some of the hard-to-see and hard-to-remember locations where precious metals can be hiding . . .

Inside Pipes

Pipes that are used to move electrolytic fluids to or from plating tanks can have valuable deposits of precious metals inside, where you can’t see them. Depending on what those plating tanks have been used for – for gold plating, for example – those deposits can be well worth recycling.

In Worthless-Looking Used Industrial Mesh

When mesh made of palladium and other precious metals has outlived its life on the production line, it looks worthless – like discolored powder. But the fact is that even worthless-looking quantities of used mesh often contain quantities of precious metals that are valuable.

In Chemicals

If you looked at chemicals that are used in photo processing, for example, you would never know that they contain quantities of silver that can be profitably recycled. You can’t see the silver, but it is certainly there.

In Industrial Waste and Sludge

Shown: mining concentrates that could contain  silver, gold, platinum and other precious metals which could be extracted, processed and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Shown: mining concentrates that could contain  silver, gold, platinum and other precious metals which could be extracted, processed and recycled by Specialty Metals.

How could something with an unglamorous name like “sludge” be worth much of anything? But it can, if it has accumulated as a result of gold or silver-plating operations. If you send in a small sample of sludge to Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, we can quickly tell you whether it contains gold, silver, or another precious metal that can be recycled.

In Unprocessed Deposits of Mine Ore and Sand

If you have visited an old gold, silver, copper or coal mine that is no longer in use, chances are that you have seen quantities of unprocessed mine waste. If it’s lying there unprocessed it must be worthless, right? Well not necessarily. Take copper mining. Anode slimes that result from copper mining often contains small amounts of gold, silver, platinum or other metals that can be recycled, even if those metals were not the primary product that the mine was extracting from the earth.

We’re Experts at the Unexpected

After 32 years of turning scrap into gold, we’ve seen it all from our customers across a wide variety of industries and manufacturing sectors. Send us a sample and let us tell you’ve got profitable precious metals hiding where you least expect it. Click here to start the process.

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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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How the Romance Factor Can Distort the Perceived Value of Gold

There are more legends about gold than about all the other precious metals put together. Here are just a few of the legends and myths that have exerted such a hold over people over the centuries, in roughly chronological order . . .

"King Midas with his daughter" from "A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrated by Walter Crane.

"King Midas with his daughter" from "A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrated by Walter Crane.

  • In ancient times, it was said that King Midas could turn anything into gold, just by touching it.
  • In medieval times, Alchemists could turn any metal into gold - at least they were trying to do so.
  • In the sixteenth century, Spaniards believed that El Dorado, a mythical golden city, existed somewhere on the Amazon River. Its myth drew Spanish explorers to South America.
  • In the nineteenth century, Edgar Allen Poe wrote “The Gold Bug,” a story about a man who is bitten by a mysterious gold bug. He then goes searching for hidden treasure. The German composer Richard Wagner also wrote his four “Ring” operas about a horde of magical gold.
  • In the twentieth century, Ian Fleming wrote Goldfinger, a James Bond novel about a gold-loving millionaire who wants to contaminate the gold in Fort Knox. And J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a wildly popular series of books that center on the return of a golden ring.

The Power of Myth and Romance on Gold Prices

No other precious metal is the subject of so many legends – certainly not platinum, cadmium, silver or palladium. That could explain why emotion has a bigger impact on the valuation of gold than it does on the valuation of any other metal.

For example, here are some emotional factors that can affect the price of a particular piece of gold jewelry . . .

  • Does it come from an earlier historical period of great interest, like the Roman Empire or the age of King Arthur?
  • Was it once owned by a king or queen, a movie star, or by someone else who was famous?
  • Was it designed by someone famous?
  • Is it part of a group of similar items like a set of gold-plated cutlery, and therefore more valuable?

Variable factors like those can have a big impact on the pricing of any gold item, and help explain why the valuation you get for any gold item can fluctuate so much from one dealer to another. That is why you need an objective party like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to help you understand the actual value of any item or quantity of gold that you have on hand.

Please give us a call at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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How to Get Big Dollars from Your Small Quantities of Gold Scrap

With gold now trading in the range of about $1,300 per troy ounce on the London Fix, you might be thinking that this would be a good time to hold onto your reserves of gold scrap and wait for prices to rise.

Photo of gold dollar signs that symbolizes how you can get big dollars from small quantities of gold scrap at Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners.

You could do that, of course. But sending your gold-plated items and gold scrap to a qualified gold refinery could be a good strategy today too, depending on your company’s current financial needs, the quantity of gold you have on hand, and other variables. It’s a business decision for you to make, of course. But here is some information that could help you make that decision in a more informed way.

Certain Items of Gold Scrap Contain Larger Quantities of Gold than You Might Expect

These forms of gold scrap contain more than trace amounts of gold. If you have even a small quantity of them on hand, they could provide you with a good infusion of cash . . .

  • Dental scrap. This includes bridges, bridgework, crowns, bars, inlays, clasps, and even grindings, which are small quantities of gold dust that result when gold-containing dental appliances are cut.
  • Quantities of gold-filled eyeglass frames. If they were made more than 30 years ago – back in the days when eyeglass frames were supposed to be refitted with new lenses, not tossed – they could contain much more gold than newer thin-plated frames do.
  • Quantities of gold-plated decorative items. People have discovered significant quantities of valuable gold in gold-plated chandeliers, candelabras, doorknobs, automobile trim pieces, and even plumbing fixtures. If it glimmers like gold, it could be worth more than you suspect. It’s worth sending to us for analysis.
  • Gold-bearing microchips, printed circuit boards, and older electronic components. Older items, such as the big fat central processing units (CPUs) from older desktop computers can contain more recyclable gold than you expect – sometimes as much as $3.00 worth of gold for each CPU that you recycle. And even newer printed circuit board that are found in cellphones, laptops and tablet computers can contain quantities of gold with value that can really add up.

Want to Know More about Recycling Gold and Gold Scrap?

We are here to answer your questions with no pressure from us . . . and no obligation on your part. Why not call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more?

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The Next Time You Recycle Gold-Plated Items, Thank Luigi Brugnatelli

The art of modern electroplating was discovered in 1805 by an Italian chemist named Luigi Brugnatelli. In essence, he was tinkering with early battery technologies that had been discovered by his friend and compatriot Alessandro Volta. (Volta’s name, as you probably guessed, is the basis of the English word “volt.”) Brugnatelli noticed that quantities of gold could be deposited on silver items when they were immersed in a battery-like bath of electrolytic fluid. And he was off and running.

A portrait of Luigi Valentino Brugnatelli (1761-1818), the father of gold electroplating, from "Cenni su la vita di L. V. Brugnatelli" Biblioteca di farmacia (1836 gen, Serie 2, Volume 5)

A portrait of Luigi Valentino Brugnatelli (1761-1818), the father of gold electroplating, from "Cenni su la vita di L. V. Brugnatelli" Biblioteca di farmacia (1836 gen, Serie 2, Volume 5)

If you do a search for Brugnatelli’s name online, you will find a lot of biographical information, including an excellent history of his life on the website of Artisan Plating, a company that specializes in high-quality plating. (Artisan Plating is like a mirror image of Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners. It specializes in applying lavish layers of gold and other precious metals to other metal surfaces, while we are a precious metals refinery that extracts them.)

Here are some highlights from the life of Brugnatelli, which we have adapted from the information on the Artisan Plating website and other online sources. We’re telling you his story because it could help you understand more about the value that could be found in the gold scrap and gold-plated items that you might own.

In 1805 . . .

Brugnatelli was the first person to use the process of electroplating. He applied a layer of gold to silver plates. For some reason, Napoleon’s French Academy of Sciences didn’t like the discovery or report on it in its publications. The Academy, which was the leading scientific organization in Europe, also stopped other scientific journals from reporting that Brugnatelli had discovered electroplating.

Until about 1845 . . .

Because Brugnatelli’s big news had been hidden, two cruder ways to plate gold onto other metals remained in widespread use. One – the more common and the more poisonous – was a process that used gold leaf and mercury to deposit layers of gold onto heated surfaces. Another was called water gilding, in which the object to be gold plated was immersed in a solution of gold chloride and water, with no electricity used. That technology could deposit only a thin layer of decorative gold.

In about 1839 . . .

Henry and George Elkington, two English scientists, independently discovered gold electroplating and started to use it commercially. At about the same time, Russians starting using it too. According to the Artisan Plating website, the process was first used in Russia to apply gold plating to metals that would be used in cathedral domes. The size of those electroplating tanks must have been pretty big!

After 1850 . . .

Tank electroplating became the method of choice for applying layers of gold onto silver and other surfaces, replacing the use of processes that exposed people to noxious mercury gas.

Brugnatelli finally had his day, even though he was not around to see his electroplating discovery gain almost universal application.

If Brugnatelli Were Alive Today . . .

He would sputter to see the way that gold sputtering targets are now used to apply thin, yet durable, layers of gold onto other metals. The thick layers of gold that he liked to apply to other metals are now nearly a thing of the past, at least in the way eyeglass frames and other items are coated with gold.

If you have gold items – especially gold-filled older items such as eyeglass frames and jewelry that is more than about 40 years old, they could contain valuable quantities of gold that are worth recycling. So do your used gold sputtering targets. To learn more, call us at 800-426-2344.

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Why Gold Plating Tank Scrap Could Be Worth More than You Think

Have you acquired an old factory where a company used to perform gold-plating operations? Does your business currently plate gold onto other metals, and do you have old tanks and other equipment that need to be cleaned or discarded?

In either case, it’s worth knowing that more dollars than you expect can be hiding in gold plating tank scrap. Here are some reasons why.

Gold Travels

Shown: Photo of gold electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for recycling.

Shown: Photo of gold electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for recycling.

It could have adhered to tank walls and electrodes – the easiest-to-see parts of a tank-plating operation. But it could also be hiding on filters, perforated drain covers, sponge that is made of other metals, and even on the inside walls of drain pipes that connect the plating tank to other tanks where used electrolytic solution is collected. With gold currently trading above $1,240/troy ounce, even small amounts of gold are well worth reclaiming.

Stuff that Doesn’t Glimmer Could Still Be Gold

When gold is found in mines and in riverbeds, it glitters and is easy to see because it doesn’t combine with other metals in its natural state. In plating operations, however, it can be harder to spot because other metals can become plated to its surface. The result? The surfaces of plating tanks and other plating equipment may not look as valuable as they are.

Valuable Gold Could Be Hiding in Sludge and Gunk

Sludge and used electrolytic plating fluid might not look valuable, but it is a mistake to toss them out – and an environmentally irresponsible mistake too. Remember too that although dried-up sludge and fluids from old plating operations might look like dirt, they could still contain valuable quantities of gold, platinum, palladium and other precious metals.

Watch this Video to Learn How Gold Plating Works

Here’s a video that shows a simple gold-plating process. Although it shows non-industrial plating being done by a hobbyist, it provides a fascinating review of the basics of electroplating gold onto other surfaces.

To Mine the Value of the Gold You Have . . .

Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. We’ll be happy to discuss your gold plating scrap and help you recoup the gold that’s hiding in it.

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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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Ask a Gold Refinery - What’s the Difference between Gold-Plated and Gold-Filled Eyeglass Frames?

Recycling Gold-Plated Plumbing Fixtures – All That Glitters Could Be Gold

Do you have a quantity of bathroom fixtures that are plated with gold? If so, you could have something quite valuable that can be recycled in our gold refinery. Here’s what you need to know.

Most Newer Gold-Colored Bathroom Fixtures Are Usually Not Valuable

Image of gold-plated faucet, one form of plumbing fixture which can be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals.

In the last few years, bathroom designers have started to use more gold-plated items, including faucets, spigots, shower heads, and even towel racks and other accessories. Many manufacturers of these products have introduced more gold-toned products to meet the demand.

Lower-priced and medium-priced gold-toned items do not contain quantities of gold that will be recycled someday. For example, a $250 gold-toned faucet set that I saw recently at Home Depot contained very little gold. It was manufactured by electroplating a very thin coating of gold onto a brass surface, then applying a coat of clear lacquer for protection. Not much gold there.

Older Fixtures Can Contain More Gold

In decades past, faucets and spigots were sometimes plated with significant quantities of gold. Usually, those luxurious fixtures were installed in the mansions of wealthy people. If you have come to own a quantity of luxurious older gold-plated bathroom fixtures, they could contain larger quantities of recyclable gold. If you are not sure what you have, call us at 800-426-2344. Our experts will be happy to talk with you.

Want to Learn More? Watch this Video

At least one company, Phylrich, still gold-plates its very high-end brass fixtures the old-fashioned way, in tanks. Incidentally, Phylrich is a terrific company that is committed to doing 100% of its manufacturing in the USA. Here’s a company video that shows how its products are manufactured. Toward the end of the video, you’ll see some beautiful brass spigots and other fixtures being lowered into tanks for plating:

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.

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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?

Let’s Get Wet - What Liquids Contain Valuable Precious Metals?

Certain liquids contain quantities of precious metals that can be recycled. But before we discuss what those liquids are, let’s state something important . . .

Only larger quantities of liquids that contain precious metals are generally worth recycling!

Photo of skids of drums filled used manufacturing fluids containing traces precious metals that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.

If you have a gallon or two of the liquids that are described below, you should not expect to receive a lot of money for recycling them. (In such cases, your responsibility is to dispose of them in accordance with local environmental laws.) But if you have larger quantities – skids of cans of metallic paint, drums of sludge – then it is worth calling us at 800-426-2344 to discuss recycling them.

Now that we’ve gotten that issue out in the open, let’s take a look at some liquids that could contain valuable quantities of precious metals.

Used Fluids from Electroplating Processes

If your company electroplates in tanks, the electrolytic fluid from them could contain quantities of the gold, silver, or other metals that you are plating onto other metals.

Unused Chemicals that Contain Silver or Other Metals

Some chemical liquids that are used in production processes contain trace elements of valuable metals. You might think that chemicals used in photo processing would contain quantities of silver, but silver halide is found in negatives and film, usually not in processing fluids. Still, it is worth reviewing the unused chemicals that you have to see whether they contain silver.

Sludge Left Over from Plating Operations

If your organization operates large-scale gold-plating or silver-plating operations in tanks, the sludge that accumulates in them (or “downstream” in other tanks that capture the sludge) could contain gold or silver that can be profitably recycled. Again, let’s point out that only large quantities of sludge are generally worth recycling – just a gallon or two won’t yield large enough quantities of precious metals.

Unused Metallic Coatings and Paints

If you have large quantities of decorative or industrial metallic coatings, they could be worth recycling. Remember, however, that the old saying “all that glitters is not gold” applies. A gold-hued or silver-hued metallic paint could contain more reflective mica powder and colorings than real gold. You’ll need to read the ingredients to see if any real precious metals are there or, in some cases, send a sample to a top precious metals refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to let us take a closer look.

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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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