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Author Topic: Why I Don't Buy Scrap Gold on eBay  (Read 2576 times)
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Capitalist Pig
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« on: 2011 Jan 04, 11:17:37 pm »

If you actually take the time and effort to test bracelets and rings and so on, you will find that even though the hallmark says "14k" or whatever, doesn't necessarily mean it is true.  Often times, the creator of the jewelry buys the raw gold from a refinery, and then creates the piece.  There are several steps involved, and the gold changes hands many times.  At each step, there is the temptation to reduce the purity and fraudulently pass it off as a higher karat than it actually it.  If it is 12k instead of 14k, that has a dramatically different melt value.  Here's one example.

An eBay sale like this one:

10k Solid Yellow Gold Chain Necklace

The seller may be right that the lot is what it says.  The seller may also be wrong, although he could still be telling the truth as far as he knows.  When buying scrap gold, always always always test.  Taking someone's word for it is just asking for a financial punch in the stomach.  Let's run the numbers.

KaratMax Purchase Price
7k$95.22 + $6 shipping
8k$109.44 + $6 shipping
9k$124.00 + $6 shipping
10k$138.56 + $6 shipping
11k$152.77 + $6 shipping
12k$167.31 + $6 shipping
13k$181.87 + $6 shipping

As you can see, even if the seller is correct and this is 10k, this auction is overpriced.  But there are many out there that aren't.  You still run the same risk of the gold being under-karated.  It'll never be over-karated and work out in your favor Wink.

Scrap sterling silver doesn't have this problem because sterling has been such a historical standard for so long.  Additionally, because of silver's relatively low price compared to gold, the incentive to shave a tenth or two off the stamped mark really just isn't there.

If the super bulls are right and silver goes to 100, that may change.
« Last Edit: 2011 Jan 07, 08:10:52 am by tamo42 » Logged

Neal McSpadden
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Capitalist Pig
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« Reply #1 on: 2011 Jan 07, 01:07:18 am »

This has been pretty handy info. I've often toyed with the idea of buying scrap gold, but I didn't know how to tell what what I'm buying. I think the solders that get used on jewelry over time do dilute things quite a bit. What do you use for testing? Any recommendations short of $30k for an XRF device?

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Capitalist Pig
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« Reply #2 on: 2011 Jan 07, 01:13:41 am »

I use the usual stone and acid tests where you scrape the metal against a rubbing stone, and then treat the residue with acids.  Different strength acids will dissolve different purities of gold/silver.  You can get kits for about $50.

If you want to be faster and more exact, you can buy electronic testers like this one:


Neal McSpadden
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