Feb 4

Why Not Re-Use Your Old Gold?

By Calla Gold

Gold scrap pile. Old gold.

Who Doesn’t Have a Little Pile of Recyclable Gold?

What About That Pile of Broken, Dated and Old Gold?

Have you ever wondered if you could re-use your old gold and re-cast it into something new?

A client asked me, her Goleta Jeweler, last week if I could make one of my more intricate rings using the gold she had from three old earrings and two old rings. I had to tell her it wouldn’t be a good idea.There are two main reasons that this is a bad idea.

Three Reasons Not to Re-Use Your Old Gold

1. Doing a single casting wastes gold.

2. The alloys in the gold DO NOT cooperate when being re-cast.

3. Single castings don’t benefit from the vacuum casting technology. Vacuum casting gives your jeweler a better finish and higher chance of excellent casting result for your project.

1. Why Single Casting Uses More Gold

Three rings casting

The Base and Sprues Used a Ton of Gold Compared to Casting a Tree of Rings

Typically, professional casting companies cast multiple items at the same time.

This saves on material and labor costs. Casting a single item costs more.

When I cast my designs with my caster it is done with many other jewelers’ items.

When casting multiple items, we are able to use smaller sprues, which are the little pipes of gold that lead into the design I’m casting.

Multiple rings casting tree

This Tree of Rings That has Been Cast was Efficient in its Use of Gold

When I cast a single design I have to use a single casting crucible (like a bowl that you melt the gold in).

I need up up three times as much gold as your ring will need to do the casting.

That extra gold goes into the sprue. When we cast multiple pieces the sprues can be much shorter.

That is not the biggest reason I don’t recommend re-using your old gold in casting.

2. Finicky Alloys in Gold Cause Trouble When Re-Used

14k gold jewelry is an alloyed mixture made of 58% of pure gold and of 42% other metals. Gold as a pure metal, can be used over and over again.

It’s the other metals that are used as hardening alloys that can screw up the batch.

casting disaster, porosity

An Example of an Unsuccessful Casting. Alloy Metals Pooling May be to Blame.

Without scientific testing in a lab, it’s impossible to know what the alloy metals in your old gold are, much less their quantities.

When those alloys that aren’t chosen for their ability to be cast repeatedly are asked to combine and be re-cast weird things can happen.

Doing a single piece casting from a bunch of old gold and its mystery alloys, risks discoloration, porosity, and cracking.

Having done single casting earlier in my career, I’ve experienced all three bad outcomes.

I’d been advised never to use old gold in casting and I felt like a proper idiot when I did it anyway and created various disasters.

3. Vacuum Casting Creates More Efficiency

Pumice Stone’s Porosity Is Easily Visible To The Naked Eye

When casting into a mold, an even pressure must be applied to the molten gold to make it go into the mold. (Your design).

The vacuum pulls the molten gold evenly into the molds. Getting molten metal into small areas in a mold can be challenging.

The even suction of vacuum casting is ideal for getting a complete casting.

The other advantage of vacuum casting is that it is done with an ambient gas like argon and no oxygen.

ring porosity problem

These Dimples Are the Result of A Porosity Occurring During Casting

This is a weird detail, but important to understanding what can go wrong with casting. Gold loves oxygen. And when gold is heated it somehow grabs oxygen if given a chance.

As the gold cools in its new shape after casting, it let’s go of the oxygen it grabbed while hotter.

Porosity spots on a ring

These Prongs Were Worked on With Soft Solder Which is a Magnet for Oxygen. This Caused Horrible Porosity

However as its solidifying and cooling, the large oxygen bubbles can’t always make it out before the gold cools.

This causes porosity. Porosity is not always visible. It causes weakness in the newly cast piece as the integrity of the new piece is riven with air pockets.

Some are visible and some are hidden weaknesses.

Recycling: It’s Hip and it’s Not Helping You by Taking up Space!

recycling kids

Be Cool, Recycle that Old Gold!

A better alternative to trying to re-cast your old jewelry is to recycle it. I give my clients credit on old gold jewelry that they use toward new projects.

For example, my client Mary was helped in paying for her new ruby and diamond ring by giving me a heavy old broken chain worth $500.00. And my contractor client Billy, totally paid for the repair of his wedding band by trading in his old, out of date, 70’s gold bracelet. I actually gave him money when I delivered his wedding band to him. It was cool and made us laugh.

By recycling your old gold, you’re also helping save the planet! For every ounce of gold successfully mined, tons of earth is dug up. With the price of gold today, you might be sitting on hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of gold.

What if that tangled ball of ancient gold chains in the back of your jewelry box would actually pay for a brand new ring? Wouldn’t that be nice!

If You Have Sentimental Reasons to Re-Use That Gold

If you have strong feelings about your grandfather’s wedding band or the ring that came over from the old country 100 years ago, it’s understandable that you may want that actual gold to used in your design no matter what.

There is a way to do this. I work with a refiner who will refine the troublesome alloys out of a small amount of gold. I can then directly use your gold, add more fresh gold and do a single casting that will use your gold. It is not an economical way to go, but it is doable.

Sarah’s Ring Blessed by the Pope

My client Sarah was given a wedding band from her grandmother that was blessed by the Pope. Her Nana wanted it to go into her wedding ring when she married. Sarah wanted to honor her deceased Nana’s wishes.

Pope blessing a baby

The Pope Blesses Babies and Rings Too.

Sarah had three rings from her Nana in addition to the blessed band and wanted to use them all. Two of them did not have a karat stamp. They were gold, but the karat of gold was a mystery. My gold refiner agreed to refine her small amount of gold. Refining it removes the alloy metals as much as possible from the gold content.

We added 50% new gold to the mix and alloyed it freshly. After her single casting was done, I gave her the leftover sprue of gold.

Her relationship with her Nana was very important to her. Having her engagement ring made with some of her Nana’s gold meant the world to her. The extra cost involved was not an issue. I was glad to be able to help her. We both had to pull out tissues when I delivered her ring to her.

Design Something Special for Yourself

By all means, bring me your old earrings, rings, chains, and bracelets. I’ll tell you what the batch is worth. Then we can use your gold credit toward designing and making that special ring that’s been floating around in your mind for the last two decades.

Calla Gold Jewelry designed ring

Intricate Design Demands Quality Gold for Casting.

What’s the Takeaway Message Here?

There are many the steps of casting gold and more than one method.

I could melt and re-use your gold, but it wouldn’t be a happy experience for either of us. Let’s look at your old gold to figure out the recycle value you have.

Then let’s discuss the project you’d like to have and make that happen. Or do like Sarah did. Just let me or your local jeweler know how we can best help you.

Goleta Jeweler, Calla Gold


32 thoughts on “Why Not Re-Use Your Old Gold?

  1. I am so relieved to get this information about whether or not you can re-melt a bunch of different old gold jewelry to make new jewelry! Thank you, Calla for helping me make some tough decisions about some pieces that I have. Yeah! I needed this. I like as well that after you tell me what happens when you re-cast old gold, you offer the alternative you have been using. Offering options is a good thing to do.

    • Melodee,
      It’s funny I’ve been asked about re-using old gold so many times, I’m surprised at myself that I didn’t blog about this sooner. As it sat in my drafts folder I sent it to three people who inquired about it. I was waiting for a picture of what a small casting looked like compared to using a casting tree. Once I had that bam, the post went up.
      Yesterday I delivered a beautiful ring with three bezel set diamonds to my client. She loved it. Her diamonds used to be in a very narrow prong setting, she wasn’t wearing and she wanted the diamonds to be re-designed to go with her wedding band in style and in lower height. She had a little baggy of random old gold jewelry. She chose to recycle it with me and it paid for over half of her custom made ring.
      We were both happy at how it all worked out.
      Melodee I look forward to taking a look at your unworn jewelry and discussing options.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  2. Gold is not the first thing or the tenth thing that comes to mind when I think about recycling. I never thought about how one ounce of gold does indeed require tons of earth being dug up. Sounds like a great idea trading in old out-dated gold for credits towards something new and contemporary – thanks for sharing Calla!

    • Dr. Lynn,
      I’m happy to create another gold jewelry recycling convert! I’ve watched again and again the pleasure when people have rooted out the old and end up with the new. They are so happy!
      Calla Gold

  3. I’m a recycling queen. This is so cool. Recycling and jewelry in the same blog post!
    Thanks for the good ideas about how to deal with my old broken and unworn inherited gold.
    You’ve given me ideas Calla Gold. I’ll remember your name.

  4. Hello Calla,
    I feel like this is a dear Abby letter. I should start it Dear Calla!
    I have a big gold band from my grandfather and I really want to use the gold to make a ring for myself.
    He didn’t have much and the story is that he mined the gold for the band ring.
    Could you re-use it? Would I have to do a simple design or could it be more complicated? I’d really like a ring to remind me of him.
    He was like a size 13 and I’m a 6!
    I look forward to your answer.
    Been told it can’t be done in LA

    • Hi Tracey,
      I work with a gold refiner, which is basically a gold recycler who does very small batch refining on request. This is where your little pile of gold is refined removing the old alloys. So your gold is pure and ready to be re-used. It’s re-alloyed for strength and enough new gold is added for me to successfully be able to do a single casting with your own gold in your new design.
      You can be as detailed or as unique in the design as you want.
      Thank you for asking Tracey!
      Calla Gold

  5. I was just wondering if you could help me out. I was trying to find out how much it would cost to melt down my grandma’s necklace and make it into a male wedding ring? It is a nice thick necklace made of Italian 24ct gold do it says. And I would like to make it into a ring to have a part of her with me. If you could give mea ballpark price I would greatly appreciate it.

    • Hi Garrett,
      I recently had a client who wanted to melt down gold and make a wedding band. The gold with the alloys wasn’t suitable for making a ring. I can give gold credit but not use it because of the alloys.
      Another client wanted a super simple textured pendant made of a big ring. I was able to do that. There was a bit of discoloration on the finished pendant, but since I was texturing I was able to render the problem area invisible.
      Because of the problems with re-using the metal alloys in the gold I don’t recommend re-using old gold.
      Calla Gold

  6. My biggest concern is lossing money selling my gold and getting a not so great economical purchase on something new As a client you can always lose both ways. They will always tell you it’s worth less and you always think it’s more expensive to buy. Unfortunately it can always be a bad experience no matter what you do.

    • Dear Dave,
      You are right that it can be frustrating knowing that you paid $200.00 for a fancy pair of earrings and then you find out that if you melt it down you only get $58.00. You also can’t sell your car for what you paid for it.
      If you buy a bar of pure gold as an investment and later sell it you’ll get the full value. Jewelry isn’t an investment from gold investment standpoint. It is a symbol, a gift, love, beauty.
      It does have intrinsic value, but the workmanship and artistry that went in to making it is paid for when you buy it. If you then want to get gold value by selling it to melt down it makes sense that you’ll not get what you paid for it.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla Gold

  7. I just stumbled upon this blog now-I am a jeweller based in new Zealand.On average i get asked this question 10 times a day .I have exactly the same sentiments regarding old gold .A great read!
    P.S. great answer on the question before.

    • Hello Deb,
      Thank you for writing from New Zealand. It’s always a pleasure to hear from other jewelers. I can’t tell you how many times people call me with this question and I just email them the link to this blog post. I am delighted to save the time by sending it.
      You might appreciate this story. I was called by a very detail oriented guy. “I know you jewelers are all out to make a buck,” he says. “I do make a living sir. How may I help you?” I say. “I paid $458.00 for a chain from your town while on vacation. I want to buy a house and I need the money. I want to sell the chain and it is in perfect condition. I want my $458.00 back.” He says. “I assume you are not saying you bought this chain from me as your name is not in my customer file.” I said. “No it wasn’t from you, it was from a store on State Street.” He says.
      I was polite with him, but amazed that he thought any jeweler would just give him cash back for full price on a used chain bought somewhere else. Clearly he was going to not find someone to do his bidding. He was pushy sounding and quite put out that I didn’t offer to cut him a check for the full amount of his chain. I feel bad for the place that he bought his car from. Perhaps he went there next in his quest for cash.
      I digress. Anyway I hope you are flourishing in New Zealand and feel free to send the URL of this post to the next person who asks you to melt and re-use their old gold. May it save you time explaining.
      Your Jeweler Friend,
      Calla Gold

  8. Thank you for the information. I am confused however as to what happens to my gold if I use it to part pay for my new piece? If, as you so brilliantly explained, it cannot be used for casting new pieces, what is the point of you buying it? I assume you don’t just store it on a shelf somewhere! 😉

    • Hello Jenny,
      You are a smart girl. It is true that I don’t just store it away. When I have bought a kilo worth, which can take a while I can bring it to my refiner who recycles it. I really believe it is a green thing to do to recycle unworn gold. You get the credit to use for something you will wear and the world gets new gold which it needs without having to mine it. Thank you for your good question.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  9. Wow, what a bunch of lies, too many dumb people in this world, you are not savng the planet but selling this guy your gold so he can make more money off you, you could have your gold melted down into bars if you want then you could have your pure gold bars turned into a nice piece of jewelry or sell it to someone like this guy that wrote this article and give up more then half its value, to save the planet lol

    • Hello Jesus,
      For the record I am a woman. I’d like to point out that if you have a bunch of gold and want to make it into a pure bar of gold you need to have it refined. There is a cost involved. And you need a minimum amount of gold to do this. If you just make a bar out of your random jewelry you are keeping all the alloy metals in it and it would not be suitable for jewelry making.
      With enough gold it’d be fine to pay to have it refined into a bar.
      As far as recycling gold goes. If you use some of your old gold toward making something new, that is gold that will not need to be mined and that’s a good thing. It’s a small good thing, but a good thing no less. I’ll take my little green gestures and keep adding them up and doing what I can to help our planet.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  10. Calla saying she makes it into gold bars, simply by melting it, which is real money and worth more then what she gave you

    • Dear Jesus,
      I’m not sure what blog post you just read Jesus, but I do not make gold bars. Taking in old gold is not part of my business model other than to help my clients pay for their services an alternate way or in some cases re-use their gold.
      My purpose in writing this blog post was to answer the, “what do I do with this old setting, single earring, gold bridge from dental work, knotted mess of thin chains?” And the frequent question, “Can you make a new ring out of this old ring?”
      I have answered questions about what to do with dated, unwanted, and just sitting there never to be worn gold jewelry for years. When people from other states started asking I thought, boy I sure spend a lot of time explaining why you can’t morph one ring into another. I’m going to write it down.
      I didn’t write this because I want to make a living buying old gold. I want to design and make jewelry.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  11. I’m confused. In the post you have stated it is better to recycle your old gold and use the money towards a new piece of jewellery.
    One person asked what happens to this old jewelery and you simply stated it gets recycled. How does it get recycled? Recycling to me means to melt it down and use it again in a new piece of jewellery. In which case why would I sell my personally significant piece of jewellery to “recycle” it and have it used again for someone else.
    Please fully explain what happens to these recycled pieces when they are traded in and how is that any different than asking for a personal piece to be reused.



    • Hello Shannon,
      I don’t mean to cause confusion. I am asked so often why I can’t just melt and re-use my clients 6 rings, 3 earrings, and two chains, to make that ring that I was prompted to write this article. I do explain in it how the alloys cause problems in casting and how single casting is more costly and uses more gold.
      If I’m hearing you correctly you want to know about the recycle process itself. In order to re-use gold, the alloys used in creating jewelry must be removed, purifying the gold. As a jeweler I can not do this. I need a refiner to do this. He or she works with thousands of jewelers to purify old alloyed jewelry. If you have a piece of jewelry, it has alloy in it, as gold is too soft to wear in it’s pure state. The refiner has a series of steps they go through to refine jewelry. I plan to do a post about a tour I took of my refiner’s place of business.
      This is a full-time business with a ton of equipment, expensive equipment. It is not a side hustle. Since gold is so valuable it is worth the effort to purify, re-alloy and re-use. My refiner who I will write about does each refining cycle with a lot of jewelry. Like a kilo at a time.
      If you had say 9 grams of jewelry to recycle, it would not be individually done except in the cases I reference in the article on re-using old gold. For sentimental reasons.
      Your 9 grams would be weighed by me and added to my pile of old jewelry to give to the refiner. Once I have a kilo I turn it in and recycling happens. You get paid or credited based on the weight of your gold that you gave me. I might not actually get it recycled for a month or two depending where I am in the weight accumulation cycle. If gold goes down in price from the time I give you your credit that’s my problem not yours.
      There are multiple steps to the refining process and it is proprietary knowledge that I do not have. However having toured the facility and watched the various steps and seen the experts at work I was impressed with the process and vowed to do my bit to see gold not being used gets recycled.
      An ounce of recycled gold saves a ton of earth being dug up. I dig that. (Couldn’t help myself.)
      Within the next six months come to my blog, put in the search window “refining gold” and you should find the article I plan to write. It’s on my calendar.
      I hope this helped.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  12. I have a gold necklace by Kenneth J lane for years forgotten, but found it tarnished. Can you replate it as I love I.
    VT Collaco

    • Hello VT,
      I have responded on email.
      I’m hoping that your necklace can indeed be re-gold plated. The picture you sent me showed me why you’d want it plated.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  13. But what would you do with the gold I would give you in exchange for a credit? Isn’t it just melted down/refined anyway? Is it just cost prohibitive to do that with small amounts?
    I have 3 basic gold rings that mean as much to me as anything blessed by the “Pope.” But I can’t wear them.
    Thanks for your time.

    • Hello Julie,
      When I take your gold and give you credit, I then save up old gold till I have enough to bring to the refiner. They do the high tech gold extraction. I do not try to have small amounts refined, but if I pay extra they will do it for me.
      I’ve attached an image of a pendant I made to commemorate the marching in the Women’s March on Washington. We used four pieces of 14kt gold jewelry with unknown alloys. I let my client know I could do a single refining for a fee and then cast it. She wanted a less expensive option. I said I can just melt what you have and pour it into a simple design I have. “There will be problems.” I said. She said, “It’ll get done.” So we modified the design to have the wording done and melted and casted her jewelry.
      We got lucky, nothing cracked or discolored. There was porosity, and she said, “Yeah, I see it but no one else will.”
      Here’s the picture.
      Pendant single cast with porosity
      We never know what will happen if we just melt and single cast. So possibly you could roll the dice on a simple design and it’d come out fine. That is an option. Not one I recommend, but you can do it.
      With your three rings, an option would be to melt your three rings in a crucible and add pure gold to raise the karat and purity of the gold. I’ve done this a few times with sentimental gold items and then done a single casting. The few times I’ve done it I’ve been happy with the results. No porosity. That is an option for you.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

    • Hello Barbara,
      It seems like using old gold comes up in questions at least once a month in my world.
      I appreciate your feedback.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  14. Absolutely amazing. I came across this by accident but I’m so glad I did. Your Professionalism & Care really shines thru this page of valuable information. Thank you so much for taking the time to educate people like myself that LOVE jewelry but never went much farther than “ooh that’s pretty & shiney, I want that!” 🙂

    • Hi Angela,
      Thank you for your kind words. They warm my heart. And I’m very happy for whatever internet accident landed you at my blog!
      I have many people who start from, ooh pretty, and progress to, I’d rather have this than that.
      Even I didn’t come from a mad crazy jewelry love place.
      That sounds weird, but where jewelry was concerned I was lamenting the loss of a horse pin my grandmother gave me to wear in horse shows. I wore it on my
      stock, (a collar you wear when showing). It was the most important piece of jewelry I’d been given. Because it acknowledged my love of horses.
      It was fake. And some of the silver shiny stuff was peeling off the back. But it looked good from the front. And then in the chaos of horses, the stables at the showground,
      moving bales of hay, changing into the costume, (yes there was a costume class) it just vaporized. That was my level of jewelry love.
      But the more I was exposed to jewelry, and learned about gemstones, and different metals and different designs the more I found my style.
      And so I wildly digressed. I guess I just wanted to say we all start somewhere in our journey with jewelry.
      Thanks for coming by and I hope you’ll do so again.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  15. If i give my old gold to the jeweller to redesign into any thing. What’s the assurity he will give me that he will not take gold from old one .
    He also tell me lie if my gold is not hallmarked. So how i come to know how much gold and other metal in my gold?
    And what assurity he will give me that he will use the same quantity of gold in other design.

    • Hello Renuka,
      I’m not sure if I’m understanding your questions. I will answer what I think I am hearing. If there is no stamp on your old gold pieces your jeweler will not know the karat of your old gold. Your jeweler will need to test it to see if it is 14kt, 18kt or 20kt etc. I’m not sure if you are asking your jeweler for credit on your old gold toward a custom job using your jeweler’s gold or if you wish your jeweler to use your old gold.
      Let’s say for example that you have six old rings and all are 14kt yellow gold. That means that 58% of your rings in pure gold and the rest is unusable alloy metals. You can do the math and figure out how much gold you have and weigh it. It gets complicated from there as more gold is used in a single casting using your old gold than shows up in your final ring when weighed.
      If you have distrust issues with the jeweler you wish to work with then don’t work with that jeweler.
      Using your older gold is more of a pain than using the gold recipe for casting that your jeweler usually uses when making jewelry.
      It is always my preference to give credit for old gold toward a new project than to refine and re-alloy your old gold and then single cast it.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *