So, you see one of our ads that we buy gold, or perhaps it was our street sign? Perhaps a recommendation from a friend. You bring in your jewelry, coins, or scrap, and we inspect it. The first thing I usually do it the magnet test.
THE MAGNET TEST
Gold isn’t magnetic. The materials they mix with gold also are not. The most common alloys generally contain two or three of the following metals. Copper, zinc, silver, and nickel.
THE VISUAL INSPECTION
If it passes the magnet test, I will look at the piece. Generally, on rings, there will be a mark on the inside of the band. 24K is 100% solid gold. 18K is 75%. 14K is 58.3%. 10K is 41.66%. So a 14K ring will usually be marked 14K, and 58.3% of the weight is solid pure gold. The remaining metal is generally not really worth anything.
If a ring says something like 14K GE or 14K HGE, that is GOLD ELECTROPLATE, and HEAVY GOLD ELECTROPLATE respectively. GF means gold filled. If it has a fraction like GF 1/10 or GF 1/20, that means when it was made, 1/10 or 1/20 of the total weight of the metal was gold. So theoretically if the piece was 14K GF 1/10 and it weighs 10 grams, there would be one gram of 14K gold there.
If a piece is plated, you can usually see the plating wearing off, and generally, you will see a copper color peeping through.
THE ACID TEST
Let’s say the piece is unmarked, and it looks like it might be gold. We take the piece, scratch it on a black rock slab, and put some diluted acid on it, (a mixture of Nitric and Hydrochloric acid) and if it burns away (turns green or white and fades) it is fake. If the streak stays unchanged, it is good.
THE GOLD WEIGHT
So, you have some real gold here! We weigh it in groups by the karat, find out how much gold you have total, and pay accordingly. We pay you, you walk away happy. But what happens to the scrap gold?
Well, it’s no secret that we have to hold all of our purchased merchandise for 10 days before we are able to sell it. That is to prevent thieves from selling stolen items and them disappearing before any police reports can be made. We get their ID, picture, fingerprint, and a picture of the item, and model / serial number if applicable. But then what?
Then the gold is packaged up, sent off, and chemically dissolved. Kind of like Breaking Bad, but much more legal, 100% in fact! They dissolve the gold to separate it from the other metals, and the stones in the jewelry if there are any. Great, now all my gold is a liquid! Don’t worry, those chemists put it right back into physical form. It comes out looking like sand, or flakes. At that point, it’s pretty pure. From there, the refinery can do a few things. They can turn it into little blobs for jewelers to use for casting. Then can mint their own coins or bars. A lot of it gets turned right back into jewelry! Don’t even get me started on the diamond industry. And now you know!