3 Things You Should Know About Scrap Gold

If you've decided to make some extra money collecting and selling scrap gold, it pays to know how to get the most out of your new-found hobby and potential profit center. Here are three basic considerations to keep in mind as you embark on your own personal "Gold Rush."

1. Common Sources of Scrap Gold

Gold is all around you, whether you realize it or not. This precious metal has taken center stage in various cultures throughout history as a luxury item that only the most wealthy could own. Today, however, you're likely to find gold in all sorts of places, including abandoned jewelry. Gold is commonly used in necklaces, earrings, bracelets, brooches, engagement rings and wedding bands. Even if the marriage is a thing of the past, or a broken necklace is never repaired, the value of the metal remains consistent with current market prices. 

Do you have some old pieces of jewelry that contain even small amounts of gold in them? If you're not interested in hanging onto them, you might as well well get some money for them from a scrap gold buyer or precious metal refinery. Do your friends have gold keepsakes that evoke too many painful memories for them to even look at, much less wear? If so, you could offer to sell it on their behalf in exchange for a finder's fee.

Another interesting source of gold is old dental work. The next time you have a gold filling replaced or a gold crown extracted, ask your dentist if you can keep it.

Last but not least, don't forget about your old, unused electronics. Many of those items will contain gold in its circuitry, along with other precious metals such as silver, platinum and copper. Open the chassis and remove the circuit board to sell, or sell the entire unit to a recycler.

2. Purity and Value

What's the value of the gold? The first thing you have to determine is the gold's purity, which is measured in karats. If you have gold jewelry, you may see the karat value inscribed on an unobtrusive spot. The karat scale ranges from 6 (containing 25 percent gold) up to 24 (pure gold). You can get a rough idea of the karat value simply by eyeballing the piece. Pure gold is a deep yellow-orange color, while an item with low karat value may appear straw-colored or almost silver. For a more accurate evaluation, you can buy a chemical testing kit to perform what's known as an assay test. Scrape a tiny streak of the gold onto a touchstone, then apply the chemicals to the streak to see how much of the metal seems to disappear—the less, the better.

Once you know the gold's purity, and can find its value by weight. First find out the current value of an ounce of gold (which can change daily), then divide that number by 31.1 to get the current value of one gram. Divide the karat rating of your gold by 24, and then multiply by the current value of one gram. Now place your gold on a gram scale to see how many grams of it you have, and you'll have the dollar value of your scrap gold!

3. Finding a Scrap Gold Buyer

Your best bet for turning your old gold into new revenue is to sell it to either a jeweler or a gold refining company. While you may already have a good idea of your gold's value, you can protect your interests further by dealing with businesses that sport the proper professional qualifications. For instance, since some jewelers are more ethical than others, focus on firms that belong to organizations such as the American Gem Society or Jewelers of America. Among gold refiners, look for membership in the International Precious Metals Institute as evidence of trustworthiness.

Before you sell any jewelry for its scrap hold value, make sure you extract any gemstones or other valuable materials from it. There's no sense in giving away that extra value for free. For more tips or assistance, talk to businesses like Mid-States Recycling & Refining.