How to Calculate the Value of Scrap Gold

If you have scrap gold, you can sell it, but for how much? Gold prices tend to increase when the economy is flat or there are worries about war or inflation. However, before you bring gold jewelry, dental fillings, teeth, nuggets, or bars to a scrap gold dealer’s counter (or send it off by mail), you should know exactly what it’s worth to be sure you are getting a fair price in exchange. Most scrap gold dealers keep the calculation a secret, but this article gives you all the information you need to figure out the value of your scrap gold for yourself.


Organize Your Gold by Karat

Separating your gold by its karat weight will not only help you begin to assess its value, but it can point out items that are not even gold. Your first task is to learn how to tell if gold is real.

1. Use a magnifying glass to decipher the karat number on each piece.

  • If it is unreadable, you could choose to have the gold tested by a reputable dealer. There’s also the possibility that some of the gold is actually just gold-plated, which a dealer would determine with certainty by performing a chemical test.
  • Take note that much of the gold jewelry manufactured before 1980 is slightly below its marked karat value. For example, jewelry marked 18K would actually be between 17K and 17.5K. In 1980, the laws changed regarding the marking and purity of gold jewelry.
  • If you’re still uncertain as to whether or not an item is gold after inspecting it with a magnifying glass, prepare to perform an acid test.

2. Perform your own acid test on any items you are unsure of.

  • Purchase the acid and stone. Both of these can be purchased from online or physical jewelry suppliers for a small price, and are available separately or as a set. A kit will come with 10K, 14K, 18K and 22K bottles of testing acid, which will normally be nitric acid. It will also come with a test stone, also known as a streak stone or touch stone, that will be made from many different materials, including novaculite or other types of flint material. Kits can also be purchased with an accompanying scale.
  • For suspected 14K jewelry, rub the item on the stone and place a drop of 14K acid onto the mark it leaves. If your item is indeed 14K gold, it will stand up to the acid and not change.
  • If it is 10K, the 14K acid will turn it brown. If it completely disappears, it isn’t even gold.
  • If it is an unmarked item, go up to the 22K acid incrementally until it turns brown, and when it does, consider it to be the next lowest karat. For example, if the 18K acid has no effect, but the 22K acid turns it brown, then consider your item to be 18K. If the 14K acid has no effect, but the 18k acid turns it brown, consider it to be 14k, and so on for other karat fineness tests.

3. Keep gold coins separate from the rest of your gold.

If you have gold coins, they may have a numismatic (coin) value, which is above their metal value. This tends to be based on age, rarity, and overall condition. In this case, your best option is to take it to a coin dealer for assessment. This is definitely worth doing, as you may be able to get more money that way.

  • If you have experience auctioning items for sale online, you may be able to sell the coin online, but you may need a certificate of authenticity to persuade buyers to pay top dollar. It also makes sense to have a secure payment system in place to make customers feel safe with their transaction. The benefit of an auction (provided you’re aware of the coin’s real value) is that it may go well beyond your asking price if several collectors are bidding for the coin.
  • Read How to determine the value of bullion gold coins for more details on assessing their value.

Determine the Gram Weight of Your Gold

Determining the weight of your scrap gold will help you to calculate its base value. This doesn’t necessarily represent the price you will get, but it’s good to have this figure as a reference when starting negotiations

1. Get a scale to weight your scrap gold.

  • Purchase a jeweler’s scale. Such a scale is available online for less than USD$50. This is the best way to accurately weigh your gold, as jeweler’s scales are built to be more precise than a typical gram scale you would have in your home.
  • Use a food scale if you cannot purchase a jeweler’s scale. If you have a food scale in your home, you can use it to weigh your gold. Most inexpensive food scales weigh only by the ounce, so make sure you evaluate the functionality of the scale if you ware purchasing one specifically to weight your scrap gold.
  • Take your scrap gold to a jeweler for weighing.

2. Weigh your scrap gold. Be sure to weigh your items in groups, based on their particular karat. Place your items on the scale and allow it to settle before taking the reading. Depending on the scale, there may be an arrow that settles near an exact gram amount, and you take your measurements from that. However, more expensive scales will have a digital readout that makes calculations as easy as reading the screen.

3. Convert to grams if your scale only weighs in ounces. The conversion ratio is 28.3495231 grams per ounce, or about 14.175 grams per half ounce.

  • Usually, you won’t have a full ounce of gold for any particular karat, and if you do, it will only be for a single karat fineness, so having all your calculations in the same weight measurement makes things much easier later in the process.

Determine the Value of Your Gold

Knowing how much your gold is worth is great information to have as you begin the process of selling it. There is an exact formula for calculating the per-gram value of your scrap gold, and the only variable factor in the equation is the current market price of gold.

1. Determine the current price of gold. You can find this by searching the Internet or looking it up in your local newspaper. Gold is valued per troy ounce, with a troy ounce equaling 31.1 grams. The price of gold fluctuates hourly according to supply and demand, so the price may be very different in the afternoon from the price you saw in the morning.

  • It is best to use the Internet for updates, which you can even do while standing at the gold buyer’s counter by using your cell phone’s Internet access capabilities.

2. Divide today’s gold price in dollars per ounce by 31.1 to get today’s gold price per gram. For example, if today’s price per ounce is USD$1,600, then today’s price per gram is USD$51.45 (USD$1,600/31.1).

3. Multiply by the fineness of the gold. For each group of gold, divide the karat by 24, then multiply that number by today’s gold price per gram. For example, if you have 10K gold and the current price of gold is USD$1,600 per ounce, or USD$51.45 per gram ($1,600/31.1), then the price of your scrap gold is USD$51.45 x .4167 = USD$21.44 per gram.

  • 10k = 10/24 = .4167
  • 14k = 14/24 = .5833
  • 18k = 18/24 = .750
  • 22k = 22/24 = .9167

4. Multiply the price per gram by the weight in grams. If you have 10 grams of 10K gold and you calculated the price at USD$21.44 per gram, then your scrap gold is worth 10 x USD$21.44 = USD$214.40. Some examples:

  • If you have 5 grams of 14K scrap and gold is USD$1,600.00 today, then USD$1,600 divided by 31.1 would equal USD$51.45. That figure, multiplied by .5833 (14K) comes out to USD$30.01 per gram. USD$30.01 multiplied by 5 grams equals USD$150.05.
  • If you have 15.3 grams of 10K gold scrap, USD$1,600 divided by 31.1 equals USD$51.45, and that amount multiplied by .4167 (10K) equals USD$21.44 per gram. USD$21.44 multiplied by 15.3 grams equals USD$328.02.
  • Most people use grams for these calculations but some gold buyers use pennyweight (DWT) instead of grams. There are 20 pennyweights in a troy ounce. You can substitute 20 for 31.1 to calculate pennyweight in our formula. You can also multiply a pennyweight by 1.555 to get an equivalent gram weight or divide a gram weight by the same 1.555 to get pennyweight.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 at 10:11 pm and is filed under Finance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.