Gold has always been considered hard currency. On the stock market, the price of gold often provides insight on how the rest of the market is doing. If you are planning on selling some old jewelry, that market price can give you some idea of what it's worth. Other factors in the valuation include the weight, gold content and sometimes the age of the jewelry.
Gold Weight and Value
Gold weight is measured in Troy ounces. A Troy ounce is equal to 31.1 grams. If you had a Troy ounce of pure gold you would usually get the maximum market value. But, most jewelry is not made of pure gold, primarily because of cost but also because adding other metals increases the durability factor. For example, if you have a ring that weighs 10 grams but half of it is made up of metal alloys, then its value would be the same as 5 grams of pure gold.
The Meaning of Karats
The Karat scale is used to measure the purity of gold. The highest is 24kt, which is pure gold. Most modern jewelry is made of 10kt, 14kt, or 18kt gold. For example, a ring made with 14kt gold is more than half gold, and would be worth more than a similar ring made of 10kt gold. The Karat measurement is usually marked on the inside of a ring and on the clasp or back of a necklace or bracelet. In earrings, the mark could be on the back or the post. Sometimes these markings are so small you need a magnifying glass to read them. If a marking is missing or unreadable, most appraisers can use an electronic or acid test kit to determine the gold's purity.
About Colored Gold
Jewelry is most often made of yellow gold. By carefully adding measured amounts of copper and silver, the gold color is maintained. Other alloy mixtures are used to create colored gold.
- Add copper, zinc and nickel to yellow gold and you end up with white gold. This is another popular option since the silver color helps bring out the flash in cut diamonds. White gold is usually 14kt.
- Rose gold, found in varying shades of pink to red, is created by adding different amounts of copper. The more copper in the mixture, the deeper the red. The Karat rating varies, depending on the shade. Rose gold is often used to add realistic flowers to rings and other items, as in the Black Hills gold jewelry made in North Dakota.
- Combining gold and silver creates green gold. Again, the amount of silver determines the shade and the Karat value. Green gold is also used on Black Hills gold jewelry to create leaves and vines, making these pieces look even more realistic.
- Other colors of gold are considerably rarer. Blue gold, for example, is made by adding indium, a dark blue alloy. Purple gold is made by mixing in aluminum, and black gold, about the hardest to find, is created by adding cobalt, an even darker blue color. As far as Karat weight, the blue usually averages 10kt, while the black and purple usually measure 18kt. All three are sometimes used in Black Hills gold and other floral jewelry.
Intact vs. Scrap Gold Jewelry
Jewelry that is intact, particularly if it contains valuable gemstones or is antique, may net you more than the market value depending on age, condition and rarity. For example, a Victorian brooch with jewels, enameling or an intricate design, will usually bring a higher price. This type of jewelry is usually resold intact instead of being melted down as scrap. Items that are more run of the mill or in bits and pieces are usually destined for the melting pot. They tend to fetch only the going market rate.
For more information, contact a local gold buyer, like Rocky Mountain Gold & Silver Exchange.