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The purpose of this area is to provide ongoing Mentorship or even just Answers to questions that you or other readers have. The questions on this page are not fabricated - they are from users like yourself. If you have a question, then please let me know at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

  • Figuring out the weight of semi-precious stones in scrap gold
  • Figuring out the weight of a watch case
  • I found an envelope with 3 ounces of gold dust - what do I do with it?

  • Q: The question I have today is: If you are weighing a piece of jewelry and have determined what kind of gold it is, how do you figure the weight if it has semi-precious stones of little or no value? Is this something you get a feel for over time or are there some hints or guidelines you could share.

    A: Figuring the value of the stones is a crap shoot - unless you are a Gemologist. I pull the stones and throw them 'gently' into a glass jar - one day I'll find a way to cash in on them. Though there are electronic "Diamond Testers" that you can use to determine if the diamonds are real - but that doesn't help you in understanding value or weight - but it does bode well for the gold being real, if the diamonds are real. I rarely use my diamond tester though. I pull all stones and throw them in a jar. Sometimes I'll take them into a pitch black room spread them out on a flat surface and turn on a black light...very neat - many of them glow)
    Regarding how to estimate the weight of the stones. There are some basics to understand first. 1 Carat of Stones is actually 0.2 grams or another way to say it is 5 Carats of Stones = 1 gram of weight. I recommend that as you pull stones, weigh them on a scale, find out how much the weigh and you can begin to build your 'gut instinct' for weight in the future just by looking at the stones. Keep in mind though that the density of stones varies so two stones of the same size don't necessarily weigh the same - it's an inexact eyeball science. The key though is if you have  3 gram ring and it has a 'decent' size stone in it...can you estimate the portion of the ring that is not gold - that's the learning experience that you can test yourself on as you aquire scrap. In addition there are 'Diamond Gauges' or 'gemstone gagues' etc on eBay that allow you to estimage the carat weight of stones based on the shape of the stone and cut. I've never used these but I'm sure there's some value to them. see ebay auctions #300365135269, #300389713562, #230490533491, #300439463804 as examples)



    Q: If you have a watch with a gold case, how do you determine what to offer for the scrap gold?

    A: Assumptions: You are referring to pocket watch case (not wrist watches). The glass, movement, and metal spring inside the watch have been removed. Aslo assuming that the watch does not have the obvious marks of 10K, 14K etc. Basically you have a 'gold filled' pocket watch case.
    The next step is to look at the the inside case lid there should be wording like "guaranteed 10 years", 20 yrs etc. That indicates that the watch is gold filled. The higher the years - the higher the gold coverage on the watch. I have not run across an exact reference for if a watch is 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years vs. teh actual gold coverage. But I tend to assume that the watch with 10-15 years is the same as 1/20th gold fill. 20+ years is upt o 1/10th gold by weight. Generally I pay no more than $20 for an empty watch case - depending on size but that's a good ballpark for a mans large pocket watch. I have a free calculator that helps to determine the weight of filled gold.



    Q: Where can we go in the Los Angeles area to confirm that we indeed have an envelope of gold dust and to get it evaluated by an honest, reputable person? And where could we go to turn it into cash?

    My husband inherited the family home (in West Los Angeles) and its contents, which included a decomposing envelope of what appears to be about 3 ounces of gold dust (including the weight of the envelope). Two generations have lived in the house without any mention of the envelope, which bears a 1949 postmark and the return address:  "Referee of the State of New York." Apparently long-forgotten, the envelope and its contents, buried in a chest beneath family keepsakes, are a complete surprise and a mystery.  Could you possibly refer us to a trustworthy person who could help us discover the value and inform us of a place where we could turn it into cash?

    A: Interesting story on how you acquired the gold! (or maybe gold).
    It sounds like the gold is what are called "bench filings". If you think about a jeweler back in the day (even today at smaller jewelers), they would create rings and grind them down and make them the process creating gold dust.
    Today in India and other developing countries - the jewelry shop owners will regularly sweep their floors and collect up all the gold dust (called sweepings). They in turn sell that to refineries who process the material and return either cash or new gold.
    Chances are you have gold sweepings or filings and if it's 3 ounces then you have yourself up to no more than $3,600. Most likely the gold will turn out to be a mix of 10K, 14K, and 18K, overall it's probably around 12K as a mix. Since 12 is half of 24K pure gold...that means you are looking at about $1,800.
    Now, you need to do one of two things - either confirm it's gold AND THEN sell it. OR, send it to a reputable refinery and let them process it. If it's gold - then you get paid. If it's not - then they'll offer to throw it out or return it to you.
    If you want to know if it's some type of gold - then I recommend going to a jeweler or a pawn shop with JUST A PINCH of the material. Ask them to ACID test the gold. They'll start with weaker 10K acid - and they'll be able to tell if it reacts or not. Then the next little pinch (very tinny - perhaps the size of a sesame seed) they'll test with 14K acid etc.
    However, there's a good chance that there is dirt and other metal in the mix - which will react as if it's not gold. So....I recommend not going to either a Jeweler nor a Pawn Shop - rather contact a refinery that processes bench sweepings. You will call the refinery, tell them that you have Jeweler Bench Sweepings / Dust (don't him and haw - just tell them point blank that is what you have). Ask if they refine it. If they say yes - they will provide you instructions on how to ship the material to them. In short you will have to fill out some paperwork in advance to setup an account with the refinery (free) and they will ask for a Social Security number (US Patriot Act requires it). Then you'll likely have to put the dust in 3 or 4 plastic baggies (triple bagged that is)....then put it in a ridgid box, and send it insured and registered USPS mail with tracking and signature receipt (will cost about $25). Then the refinery will get the package, process it and let you know in a few days if there are any problems...otherwise they'll just send you a check!
    THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT - I strongly recommend ONLY using a refinery that is NOT advertised on TV for this reason:
    I have used 2 refineries for years and always been treated well. You can learn about Norther Refineries & GS Gold here: I get no reciprocation or consideration from either refinery.
    I have never turned in sweeps before but I know that I get 95% of the value of the gold back from both companies when I send in scrap jewelry. I looked at both refineries sites and saw no special 'lesser rate' because of the sweeps you have. Recommend you call both companies and ask them if they process what you have and what they pay out as a percentage of the actual metal (they'll quote you a percentage). Just remember, there's likely some percent of dirt and metal in the if it comes back as $1,200 don't be surprised.
    Is that enough direction :-)

    Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 08:08