Gold has a long and storied history in human civilization. Even before we started building walled cities and developing local economies gold was being used as an adornment. Egypt and many early Middle Eastern cultures prized gold above all other precious materials for its beauty, and unique properties.
This is due in some part to the fact that it is rare. When the Earth formed from the primordial hot ball of mass that it started from, most of the elemental gold sank toward the planet’s core along with molten iron, nickel, and other heavy metals. Only a small trace of elemental gold was left at the surface.
Over the eons, tectonic and volcanic activity have returned amounts of gold to the crust, in trace deposits. This means that in general human beings have to put extra effort to extract gold from the Earth through plaster mines, hard rock mines, and other labor-intensive processes.
Gold is also lustrous, and easy to melt, which also means it is malleable and able to take on a wide range of shapes. At the same time, an atom of gold won’t form a compound with another another element other than another atom of gold. It only forms crude alloys, where essentially another metal or substance happens to be pressed, surrounded, or physically trapped along with the gold. To be able to separate the two one need only apply sufficient heat to smelt the goal and extract the so-called Slag.
It’s also worth noting that gold is an excellent electrical conductor. To this day it is used in a wide range of small electronic consumer devices. Most of which are solid-state electronics like laptops, flip phones, smartphones, digital cameras, certain types of gold-plated plated circuit boards even things like printers and scanners.
With the prevalence of gold in jewelry and consumer electronics and an increasing number of entities are turning to state-of-the-art gold recycling techniques as well as other forms of technology. The underlying goal is to find a fast and efficient way to capture gold that would otherwise be lost to the common waste stream.
There are indeed some measures in place that show some promise, or the opportunity to be upgraded in the relatively near future.
What Are Some Of The Best Sources For Gold Recycling?
Gold has been used by many civilizations in the past as a form of currency. However, today gold is used in large part to create jewelry and coins, as well as various types of dental work. There are entire companies who specialize in making gold inlays and onlay dental fillings as well as gold dental crowns and dental bridges.
Gold jewelry and numismatic coins most often enter the gold recycling industry through direct sale dealers, which might also be attached to a pawn shop. There are also some jewelry stores who will buy gold jewelry for recycling, reuse, or repurposing. With these entities, you typically see around a 50 to 80-percent return on the gold’s physical weight per ounce. There are also gold mail-in programs that pay a similar rate for unwanted gold.
In the past gold recycled from dental work was often collected by dentists and then sent to a recycler. These days more-and-more gold dealers are taking old gold dental work and paying the same 50 to 80% value by weight. So, if you have a gold filling fallout, you might be able to get a mega size value combo for lunch by stopping in at a local pawn-gold dealer.
It’s also worth noting that there are some gold and other precious metals in some catalytic converters and circuit boards. If you happen to have an incident with your vehicle’s exhaust system you might want to peruse your local yellow pages for a scrap metal dealer.
How Do I Recycle Gold Coins?
With gold coins, you want to put in your due diligence. Make sure that you are accurately researching the coins full value. With some of these coins, they might be worth more value than just the weight of going itself. This might start with looking it up on a registry of numismatic coins or seeking out a professional numismatist.
If the value is at or below its value in weight of gold, you might just make an offer to a gold broker or find a numismatic coin collector who is interested. Just keep in mind that if you intend to sell it for its numismatic value that most savvy collectors are going to want documentation, especially documents noting the chain of custody and where you got it from.
How Do I Recycle Gold Jewelry?
With gold jewelry, there’s a little bit more science to consider. The first step is to factor in the purity of the gold. It is always measured in karats, with 24 karats representing pure gold. In some cases, the number of impurities can be determined through things like an acid kit, electronic tester, or a fluorescence spectrometer. In other cases, an X-ray test or a melting point test may also be required. Of course, the problem here is that you are adding some minor costs into the process of selling the gold.
Once the purity of the gold has been accurately assessed, you will need to seek out a company that specializes in smelting. They can melt the gold down in a special type of crucible, where it can be poured into bars, strips, or rounds and then marked by purity.
How Do I Recycle Gold In Electronics?
There is a very small amount of gold, as well as some other precious and semi-precious metals in a wide range of consumer electronic devices. However, this so-called “E-Waste” call for a less straightforward process, due to the fact that the gold is essentially embedded in some types of metal or plastic housing. In some cases, it might make up less than one or two total percent of the device’s weight.
This means the process for extracting it is more labor intensive. Most gold recycling companies who perform E-Waste recycling for precious metals either use a chemical stripping process or melt down the metal components to separate the metals from the slag, before further processing.
Gold recycling in electronics isn’t much of a money-making opportunity for the average consumer when you consider that there are roughly three-fifths of a pound of gold in a single ton of smartphones. It also takes Ten thousand phones to weigh one ton.