The first thing you should do is try to figure out the purity of the gold items you want to sell. The purity of the gold will determine the price, because the higher the gold content of the items, the more they are worth.
Tip: If you have different items of different purities, as you identify the purity you should separate them into labeled bags or cups (you will thank me later) to keep the different purities separate.
Traditionally, the Karat system (K) has been used to identify the purity of gold; the higher the karat, the higher the percentage of gold. (See definitions below)
The purity stamp is usually visible to the naked eye, but if you have trouble finding it and or reading the mark, you might find it helpful to use some type of magnifier or jeweler’s loop. As you will soon see, when you sell gold these marks determine the price you will be offered for your gold items.
In 1961, Congress amended the National Stamping Act to require that manufacturers who put a quality mark on a precious metal item are also required to add their trademark.
If you are lucky enough to also find a “Trademark” stamp near the gold purity mark, chances are pretty good that the purity mark is valid. The trademark will usually be a symbol, design or the actual name of the manufacturer. However, a purity mark and a Trademark do not guarantee that the item is as marked or as the trade calls it “plumb.” (See glossary)
In my experience, finding a karat mark gives you over a 90% chance that the purity is accurate.
Finding a karat mark and a trademark, gives you more than a 95% chance that the purity is accurate. Yes, there is and always has been forging or what is politely called “under karating” of gold items. For example, an item marked 14K that is actually only 13K or 12K, which is one reason you should only buy or sell gold jewelry from someone you trust for good reason.
Items with the following marks cannot legally be called gold and are not worth selling for the gold content:
GF, 1/20 14k GF, 10k GF – this is gold filled and only contains 5% gold (less than 1K). Gold fill is actually gold on the outside that has been “filled” with other alloys.
RGP – rolled gold plate is similar in value to gold filled
HGE – heavy gold electroplate is just a whiff of gold on the outside with no value in gold content
HE – heavy gold plated---see above
Items with these brand names are costume jewelry and do not contain gold:
Monet®, Avon®, Napier®, Speidel®, Trifari®, Sarah Coventry®, Swank®.
You don’t want to try to sell gold with any of these markings.
Test with a magnet
Ok, so there was no mark on the item. All is not lost! Gold (and silver) is not magnetic. If your item is attracted to a magnet, it is extremely unlikely that there is enough gold in it to make it worth selling, (unless you have at least several pounds of it) At best it is gold-filled which is supposed to contain 5% gold.
Buy an inexpensive traditional acid gold testing kit
Even if your item has a gold purity mark, it is a good idea to confirm that the item is gold. For around $17 you can buy a traditional acid gold testing kit.
This method requires you to rub the gold item on a testing stone, and then determine how the smudge reacts to acid which you administer to the sample by the drop. very easy and accurate test when you sell gold.
The gold and jewelry industry has used this method for hundreds of years to determine gold purity. The kit should include a set of “test needles” for comparison, well written instructions, gold testing acid in different strengths for at least 10K, 14K, 18K. I also recommend the 22K and silver test acid. If you have some white rings or other items, platinum acid might come in handy
The Glass Test
No mark, no acid test, not magnetic? This usually works. Gold has a hardness of about 2.5 to 3 on the Moh's scale. Glass on the other hand has a hardness of 5.5 on the same scale, so try scratching glass with a sharp piece of the gold. If it scratches the glass, it is definitely not gold, or is mixed with other metals and the purity is very low.
Ask a Jeweler to test or appraise the items for you
You are not ready to sell gold, but it might make sense for you to have a jeweler or a registered appraiser test and appraise the value of your gold items.
A jeweler will usually be willing to tell you what he thinks the purity of your gold is and what it weighs. He may even be interested in buying the gold from you. Many jewelers are also registered appraisers who for a fee, which can vary greatly, will evaluate your gold items. At this point I am not concerned in what they think the value of the gold is, I just want you to know the purity of the gold and how much you have.
The whole point of this site is to teach you how to sell gold by determining a fair price for your gold, not have someone tell you what that price is.
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