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The Scrap Value of Gold

The Scrap Value of Gold

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The Scrap Value of Gold

Scrap gold is considered any type of gold that has lost value in its original product form, such as damaged jewelry, and that is ready to be melted down. The scrap value of gold is an important metric for recyclers as well as the global jewelry community of buyers and sellers. Scrap gold value, just like spot gold prices per ounce, fluctuates on a daily basis.

What Determines Scrap Gold Value?

The spot price value of gold is a factor in the scrap value of gold, but not as much as purity, as 24K gold is usually worth more than a 10K piece of the same weight in grams. One troy ounce of gold equals 31.1 grams.

A 10K gold jewel represents 42 percent gold mixed with 58 percent alloys, so it should be worth 42 percent of the current market price of gold per ounce. Since 24K means pure gold, a 24K jewel should be worth 100 percent of the current gold spot price, in theory.

Usually when economic times get tough, the supply of scrap gold grows. It's important to distinguish scrap gold from gold bullion products and collectibles. Scrap gold usually sells at much lower prices than gold coins of the same weight and purity.

While gold jewelry declines in value when the quality degrades, old gold bullion (bars or coins) may go up in value due to rarity and age, even with scratches. The value of gold bars is based on purity, form, size, and weight. Even so, any item's liquidation value is only worth what the highest bidder will pay.

Gold bars should have at least "99.5 percent purity" (aka "995 pure gold") stamped on them to meet the purity standard. Gold coins, by contrast, often aren't pure gold (U.S. mint is 91.67 percent,) yet cost more than gold bars depending on their value as collector's items. Bullion can be sold as scrap.

Buyers of Scrap Gold

Metal recycling centers regularly puchase scrap gold, which can be melted down then transformed into a new product. Gold has industrial value since it's an excellent conductor of electricity and is used for high-quality cabling and wiring.

You might also find buyers of scrap gold through online marketplace sites, like eBay or Craigslist, but there are better places to consider. Some people turn to pawn shops without first researching all the options. A pawn shop might work if all you care about is fast cash, but you can make more money selling in specialized jewelry markets. Be aware that "gold parties" and "we buy gold" pop-up shops might be scams.

How To Sell Scrap Gold

When buying or selling jewelry, it's best to work with an experienced jeweler that already participates in the global market. Your jeweler should be a member of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which commands the most authority and respect in the jewelry industry. Selling gold as scrap typically means the material will not be resold, but instead sent to a refinery or recycler to be melted down and then recycled.


Learning the scrap value of gold works best when you visit a professional gemologist. Contact us at Ralph Mueller & Associates for more information on scrap gold value and other jewelry insights. As GIA members, we can give you the most objective and fair assessment of your scrap gold.