Gold Testing

Dr. Wyckoff write an article on gold testing that talked about chemicals etc. What is the method when the pawn shops place the jewelry on the scale / machine in order to determine the hold percentage. This method is never mentioned in the article. TY

testing the gold content of alloys by pawn shops and a lot of jewerly stores are just screening methods.
tests used include streak acid testing, which can be off by a lot, even though it’s an ancient technique… it’s a screening method only.
electrical conductivity tests are more accurate but still are screening.
weight in air alone won’t give you any info except for gross weight. SpG is more accurate but can’t assess tri metallic alloys" eg. gold/copper/ silver or gold/copper/ nickel for green and white gold… the atomic weights of each constiuent vary too much. For bimetallic alloys electrical conditivity is the best solution… trimetallic or multimetallic alloys are far more challenging. Complete accuracy requires high tech equipment.
Re: specific gravity… Archimedes was tasked by the king of Syracuse to nondestructively test a crown made for him. The king suspected that the goldsmith had cheated by adding silver or copper. Archimedes pondered the question… when he went to take a bath, the water overflowed by the volumn of his body… that was the Eureka moment… Archimedes ran down the street naked shouting “Eureka, eureka!”… or so the myth goes… he had discovered the principle of SpG…after testing the crown against the volumn and weight of the water it displaced when submerged, he found that the crown had indeed been diluted with copper… the goldsmith was executed… or so the myth goes.

Your article is interesting but how would a person know?

I brought in gold a couple years ago to a gold /metal buyer i wouldn’t call it a pawn shop. But they put the piece on top of this scale type equipment in back of them and would tell what the carat type was of gold ie 14 or 18k and if it was all complete gold as in a bracelet i gave her. She said the clasp part was like a vermeil copper, the rest 14k.

Then they look up that days spot price and quote you.

Do you know what this type of equipment is and if its a commonly and accurately used?

Thank you.


the only theoretical type of quipment by which weight can be used has to have the weigth of the item compared to a standard… the counter balance in the scale was to be weighted with 24k gold, or 14 or 18k gold… In the case of SpG it’s water displaced by the volume of the alloy. For trimetallic alloys, such as copper/silver/gold or for nickle containing white gold, it won’t be accurate.

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The weighing machines are made by Mettler-Toledo which has been the leading brand for quantitative chemistry for scientific purposes. For gold, these machines are counterweighted automatically and are considered reliable.

The cheapest (which is not cheap at all) for 100% accuracy is electron microprobe analysis… the machines cost 100K up to to 10 million USD… a significant investment which is beyond the budget of pawn shops and retail outlets.

I hope this anwers you question.

Yes, thank you Steven. I assumed they were reputable but this was the first time i ever sold any gold…so since I saw a gold topic on the forum I thought why not ask. I didnt know so your answer was very thorough.

As for being expensive im sure that’s what this is primarily what this small shop does it’s worth the investment to them.

Thanks again and Regards,


I retired from jewelry making as a hobby, but I have a huge residual stash of silver… I had bought sterling scrap cuttings from a metal dealer at $2.50/oz in the 1990’s, when silver was cheap… I melted them down into crude ingots, some of which I hammered to make sheet… I finally bought a rolling machine, and an ingot mold… It was cheaper to roll my own sheet and pull my own wire than to buy silver supplies at retail. Now I am stuck with a problem… I need to get rid of all of the silver, about 25lbs of it… a friend of mine who is a silver bug took an ingot to his local dealer… the dealer was using a “machine” and got readings “all over the place” for a single ingot ranging from 60% to 75% silver. My friend didn’t know what kind of “machine” it was, but probably an optical device… the ingots had been fire refined to “spitting silver”…after melting, the molten silver was injected with oxygen to burnout the copper. The flux absorbed the copper and turned brown… I had used an oxy-acetylene cutting torch for steel… the flame heats the metal to melting, with superheat, and there’s a separate orifice for oxygen injection. Silver will aborb oxygen to 20 times it’s volume. As it cools, oxygen bubbles are exsolved that pop on the surface of the molten metal, hence the name “spitting” silver which is fine silver. Yet the dealer’s machine read BELOW the silver content of sterling. That was impossible since the starting material was sterling to begin with…
I asked for references for refiners from the ganoskin/orchid website of which I have been a long time member… the refiners will generally charge 20% and return the rest of the value in cash… I asked one of them about returning the silver in investment grade bullion, and they told me that there was a premium of $4.00 per oz…At 25 USD per ounce for silver, I would be paid 20USD per ounce in cash. For investment grade bullion, that would lower the amount returned to $16/oz… This is clearly a stiff money loser. Despite buying sterling scrap at $2.50/oz, the price of silver has gone up 10X since 30 years ago… It kept up with, but did not outpace inflation. I would be getting only 64% of the current price of fine silver, lose 36% of my initial investment. The local pawn shops are even worse. They always quote the melt down price for everything, including proof JFK half dollars, which have a far higher numistatic value than meltdown… A jewelry appraiser here told me the same thing… I have three “new pawn” Navajo squash blossom necklaces. There are antique pieces… they told me that all they knew was the meltdown value of the metal and the value of the turquoise. He had no idea of the antiques market value…and recommended that I sell it on Ebay or Amazon.
In addition to silver, I also have several ounces of green gold that I alloyed using coin silver which is 22K… The refiners all have the same 20% fee. The gold was acquired when the gold market bottomed out at $250.00/oz…That was the year when the Homestake Mine in SD closed as the price of gold was below thier costs of production… Sending gold and silver to refiners and having it returned as cash is a better option than investment grade bullion… you lose, but only. only 20%, and more with shipping, handling and insurance costs for shipment…otherwise you would lose even more if returned as investment grade fine gold and fine silver.
If you local dealer is giving you spot, he/she are depending on the spot price to go up. They would be losing money if they gave you wholesale spot.
I held 45 oz of gold bullion in an investment account with a national brokerage house. I could sell, take delivery or hold all at spot price… there is a minimal storage fee for holding precious metals…I sold 20 ounces of gold for cash and re-invested it in stable high yielding securities… a 9% return annually is better than the vagarities of the precious metals market… gold doesn’t pay interest. Neither is it risk free: stocks have far out performed gold despite it’s recent run up over the same time period. Gold peaked at 2K per oz, then fell back and languished for years…Securities are not risk free either but they do accrue capital gains as well as pay dividends. Gold only accrues capital gains… Neither gold, nor silver have outperformed inflation…buying at retail and selling at wholesale (spot) leaves you with less money than than not buying at all. Silver is the poor man’s gold… it’s price tends to follow but lag behind moves in gold… the current high price of gold is the result of inflation and geopolitical risk, with middle east buying and buying in India driving demand. I don’t expect gold to keep climbing, unless there’s a break down in the geopolitical order… gold has to compete with higher interest rates determined by the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, both of which have raised rates to combat inflation.

Sorry for my rant on precious metals… but I do think they make lousy investments… having precious metals in the form of jewerly is for appreciation of beauty and not for value.

In general, I also have noticed that the same applies for semi-precious and precious stone. I still have another hoard of unset stones. Quartz stones like amethyst and citrine are still at $10/ct due to their abundance. Diamonds have not risen in price much as of late. Synthetic stones have fallen in price and are competing with natural stones, driving the price down…synthetic stone prices have also fallen due to many more makers entering the market. Garnets have gone up with inflation but not outpaced it… Only a few stones, including the finest of precious: rubies, emeralds, sapphires have gone way up… but the quality is what matters more. Stones that have been mined out have also outpaced inflation: imperial jade, good quality tanzanite, Paraiba tourmaline (versus African Paraiba-type)…
If one is buying as an investor, there’s better places to put your money than in collectibles. Jewerly is to be admired for it’s beauty, design and workmanship… not for the market value of the stones and metal…Since the early 1980’s, the value of the dollar has declines to present, from a dollar to ten cents, in constant 1980 dollars… a ten fold gain in the value of precious stones and precious metals only reflects an average of 4.5% annual inflation of that period of time… on the other hand the Dow Jones industrial average went up from 1000 to nearly 40,000 today… about a 39 fold return. If I cashed out all of my precious metals, I’d be luck to get 25K for it all… reinvested at 5% in an FDIC insured CD, the return would be 1.25K per year guarenteed, above the current inflation rate of 3.2%…If inflation spiked up to 8% again, absent any Fed action, the credit markets would crash the face value of bonds, leading to a higher yield…
In the long run, the budget deficit and the national debt is unsustainable… the dollar would become worthless in a default. However, “in the long run we are all dead” (John Meynard Keynes, the father of modern economic theory)…Getting older makes the problem less pressing… I’ll be gone by the time that happens.

Lol. No you weren’t ranting I love colored gemstones. Justcwishbi could sell most of what i have. And yes, i agree. I’ll be gone too by the time the dollar issue really is done with.

I guess that’s why I’d like to sell off most of the gemstones and enjoy the money while i can.

Have a good one.

I wouldn’t think gold would climb a lot more but look when it was $900 oz. I just brought some of these gold jewelry pieces to the guy that i didn’t want and figured I’d use the cash for something else.

Im retired now and as a side I used to sell stones door to door on 47th in NYC. But I’ve moved hsve a very bad back and can’t be doing all the door to door walking i used to do.

One of the downsides to getting older. : )

I’m on this website to get an idea of pricing for my lose stones. I will be unloading them sometime but it’s not the number one priority for me. Where I live is too small a town and too remote form major cities to offer anything in buying and selling stones or metals. Online selling takes too much time… Getting rid of the precious metals is easier… the only reason that I would have to get the metals returned as investment grade fine, is to have them to admire and enjoy for the beauty, ditto the best of my stones. Otherwise it’s a lousy investment. The bullion would be liquid. The total value of everything may be as much as 40K, but 40K isn’t much… I retired this year and have a lot more in my portofolios that I depend on now, along with social security to pay my bills and to travel. I’ve been an investor when the Dow was at 800… My return has been huge since then, even accounting for inflation… I have studied economics and am by default a student of markets. The value of precious metals is dependent on interest rates, the strength or weakness of the dollar, oil prices, stock prices, and numerous other factors that make it extremely complex to project future value. None of the professionals get it right… their guess is as good as any experienced layman. Markets are irrational. -what should go up goes down and vice versa. Add to it political risks and fiscal policy that will eventually wreck the economy…It’s only in the long run- decades- that everything goes up… that’s been the case with precious stones also… but in the long run we are all dead. I just hope that I’m gone before the crap hits the fan.

PS: gold prices stagnated at about or less than $300/ounce from 1995 through 2005… it climbed to 1,600- 1,800 in 2015, and stuck at around 2K/oz until 2023, when it resumed its bumpy climb until the high of today. I expect a pull back to 2K + a little more… but maybe not… world wide interest rates are rising to combat inflation. That puts pressure on gold. The supply of gold and silver is more dependent on the world demand for copper,and other base meals, as most of these metals are produced as by products of copper minining and electrolytic copper refining by the big mining companies in Peru and Chile. Copper demand was highest during the Chinese industrial revolution of 20 to 30 years ago… Chinese demand for copper has dropped. The price of copper roughly tracks that of gold and silver. 60% of silver comes from lead and zinc and copper mining.

Lol. I just wish i could sell most of my inventory and get the money. I’m probably moving back outside NYC but the housing prices there are outrageous. Thus tear there has also been very few lisungs so far. Im nit thrilled because there prices are so rip off. I lije you gave a 401K I cinverted to an IRA, small prnsion, and savings so im not thrilled about shelling iut a lot more fir housing thats so iverpriced due to the marjet there.

I moved to the south 6 years ago and HATE IT. Plus the physicians here are HORRUBLE and that’s my primary reason for moving back.

Plus, when i first tried to sell some of my gemstones that i brought to an antiques show where there were jewelers with new finished pieces that im sure they bought.

One booth referred me to “like a one man show” sort of booth where i think he actually made his iwn jewelry. He looked at one of my stones a 7ct oval cut Zambian emerald and he thought it was too oiled for him (of course that’s his opinion). I had abiut 6 different type stines i brought there.

But what shocked and disappointed me the most was when he said "a lot of colored gemstones are here because they smuggle them in from S. America!!!

I left there feeling hopeless!!!

Then I’ve found if you go to individual jewelry stores to sell below wholesale they say “oh i get from mine like far east”. Well i know thats a BS line because they don’t sell onesies they sell lots from overseas people!!!

So they’re too hard to sell to. And i think what kills me is my stones are beautuful, not fake, great quality, and most importantly im selling for under wholesale and will take the loss!!! I got all mine through a guy I know who buys, sells, and knows miners and cutters worldwide.

I just didnt expect to get a rare incurable disease later in life. Everyday I pray I’ll find a way to get rid of most of them. Or I guess my estate will get stuck!

After I had my taxes done this year I was so fuming what i had to pay due ti interest and SSI I was ready to by gold bars and throw them in my safe! I thought its a joke to try to invest and get returns since then they want 40% back and you’re retired. I cant even imagine once you have to take RMDs what theyll hit me up for!!

Then I had a second thought and since it’s so high i thought if I ever sold them I’d hardly make money.

But I’m seriously not looking to get a high return this year even in savings since the IRS takes so much.

And on another mote i have my doubts about sime if these guys on IGS becayse ive gotten about 4 inquiries on specific stones that I follow through and send them a pdf listing. Well I never hear back!!!

Not anything even like thank you but I’m not interested or even thank you!

The kast two I asjed if they could at least give me a reply … of course nothing. Therefore, I question a lot of these people on it.

As far as internet selling through like social media my thought was … what about payment, what about the buyer doing something and wanting to return cause they caused it!

I have zero doubts about my stones or quality. I have doubts about the internet buyers. And frankly even when I look at a link from an advertiser on IGS their prices are like peanuts!

Brick and motar stores will either not buy or buy low… internet sales are dicey. Etsy is one of the worst sites… I saw rubies for sale and there was another thread about a buyer buying a lot of rubies from Etsy…half of them were synthetic, labled “genuine”…some of the ruby sellers had no idea of what they were selling… they put them on sale saying they were bought from so and so, on their word… the stuff that they were selling could have been simulants, the real stuff was poor quality…
Buying stones and making jewelry was a hobby and not a vocation… I was able to buy stuff for cheap ages ago… they have appreciated in value. The IGS site give such a wide range in value that it’s useless. I don’t think that IGS certification helps much… I rely on information from the GIA… which doesn’t give value but tells you critical things about precious stones…selling on the internet is a full time job… I don’t have the time to do that…
We have a house in Albuquerque that is being rented out… We will take possession of the house within the next two years… gem resources are far better there than in Rapid City SD where I live now… Rio Grande is headquartered there… besides many other outfits that buy and sell. Moving will be downsizing… I can’t take the weather anymore here… -20F during winter cold snaps that last a week to two weeks at a time… I can’t shovel snow anymore. I will have to sell my house here and buy another house as a rental in Albuquerque to escape capital gains taxes… but I hate being a landlord, especially an out of state one. … been there, done that and it sucks…I sold off my realestate and reinvested it in the market… made more money with less hassle… I’m fortunate that I don’t need to touch my principle. I can live off of interest and dividends maintaining my life style… however, I do have to account for inflation. Managing money is less of a job than most people think…since I quit working, I have to make my money work hard for me… but it’s sufficient for me to pay my bills and splurge on travel.
A contributor to this website who is an expert and makes a living off of buying and selling gems: he travels to Africa and South America to buy rough and has them cut, reselling here in the US…has become a friend of mine. I’ll let him do the selling for me for a commission. The precious metals is something that I’ll send off to the refiners. Just haven’t decided whether to get it back as cash or as investment grade bullion.

Yes, i know its all tough. I too bought stones as investments and good quality ones. But i also knew who I was buying from and that they were the real deal and tops. He didnt answer my emails i sent a couple years ago regarding if he had any contacts in this area but he never answered. Or it was because i stopped buying or it would infringe on people he knew.

As far as moving and weather. Ugh. When i moved from the north east where i lived all my life I had 35 years if my adult life of accumulating and then downsizing objects was a chore i didnt want to ever go through again. I’m even dreading it now while i try to find something to buy back there.

I also moved because of the cold winters, snow, and also my rare neuroligical disease was supposed to do better in a warmer climate. Unfortunately, between the horrendous medical and the warmth not helping me I’d rather move back where i know there are top doctors. I had a chance to buy a condo unit here which i was considering buying because i helped the older Canadian guy who owned it get himself up everyday.

He was amazing 91, went to S. America fishing, etc.

But that year his arthritis was bad and he had a small mini stroke here and i called 911. So he was willing to sell to me but after i calculated all the costs of renovating the kitchen and two baths along with rental income and pay back it wasnt worth it. Plus I didnt want to get into the headache if having rentals.

Im pretty OK financially too but as you said you have to account for inflation. You’re also lucky you know a guy on here that will sell yoir stones for you.

I’m not sure if I’m going to even renew on IGS because as you stated the price tables are a joke and i dont feel like I’m getting much out of them lately. I wasn’t going to cut rough so I initally joined hoping to get some contacts or information.

Right now I’m hoping the N.E. housing market picks up even though the prices are outrageous. I guess I’ll have to drag all these stones back up there again with me and hope for the best in them. Lol

I bought stones to set into jewelry. Made a bunch… But bought more than I could set…I never considered them as an investment…neither precious metals… My own neck and shoulder problems have prevented me from sitting at the bench for hours on end as I used to. Jewerly combines stone and metal work into art. I am still a contributor to the Ganoskin/orchid web site which is a sister website to this one… the Ganoksin/Orchid website is far better than this one. People from beginners to profession jewelers contribute freely of their knowledge and experience. The discourse is friendly and civil… Jewelry is worth more than the metals and the stones. Mine were all hand fabricated using only the most basic equipment. Since I can’t make anymore, I’m not parting with them… I have given some away as gifts to special friends and relatives. I’ll continue to do so as I grow older. THe stones will be sold. I have them hidden and don’t look at them anyway. The quality of the stones, all semiprecious and bought both online and at brick and mortar outlets are far better than what is offered online today…The only ones that have really appreciated and are worth something are a pair of hot, deep pink Pala tourmalines of about 7ct each. I also have a Padaradscha that set in a ring, it’s just shy of 1ct, which is a shame since it would have jumped in value at 1ct. I bought it at a brick and mortar store in Albuquerque which was known to have kept their prices low…I bought it for $800… the ring is in 14kt gold with two diamond accents. A piece of jewerly like that should bring 10K… the two tourmalines I also bought at a brick and mortar store in Pala… got them both for $500… each is worth 5K now. I just wish I had the papers for them… Palas are mined out, like Paraibas from Brazil… these are the only investment grade stones that I have.

Well online and retail other than the nig names have inferior quality stones. I dont have any Paraiba but lots if Brazilian emeralds, sime demantoids, Alexandrites over 2 ct, lots of very nice aquamarine, and tanzys.

That’s all can think of as bulk stones i have. I have for the regukar consumer topaz, rutilated tourmilated quart that are big, amethyst from Brazil and Uruguay. A pair of cabachon rubies I think 1 ct each before the embargo they had

Probably other quality semi precious gems I’m forgetting but i like you have so many I haven’t looked or even catalogued all of them.

disposing of precious metals is easy: just send them to a refiner and get the cash back… discounts are given for bulk, but expect to pay 20% of spot as a fee. Disposing of semiprecious and precious stones is a nightmare. Don’t expect a whole lot back on the retail market. Good quality stones will fetch much higher prices. But they have to be of good quality… lots of junk for sale, especially on line… I haven’t done anything about my stuff yet, it’s not my number one priority. As long as there’s inflation, prices will keep up but don’t expect to make more than inflation over the long run.

electrical conductivity testing is a lot cheaper but is only good for bimetallic alloys. These require repeated calibration against standards… calibration, calibration, calibration… must always calibrate. Mettler is absolutely reputable. For quantitative chemical analysis, their scales are the most widely used. Their scales are expensive but designed for accuracy. I can’t refer you to a cheaper alternative for gold weighing scales off the top of my head… you will have to do your own research.