How Gold Is Refined

October 12, 2012

Gold RefiningPhoto by: Joe Flintham | Flickr.com

Though many of us own gold jewelry and wear it proudly, hardly a thought is generally given to the process by which our rings and bracelets were made, let alone how the gold itself was refined. The British company Capella recently gave Professional Jeweller (sic, British English spelling) an inside look at its refining process, shedding an interesting light on the items that are sent to the refinery, the way that the precious-metal content of those items is then tested, and finally how they are refined.

What is Being Refined?

Capella’s managing director Kevin Bloor explained that the refinery performs stone-recovery services, recycles metals, and makes bullion in addition to its refining services. While Capella used to deal primarily with pure metals and bullion, recent fluctuations in the prices of precious metals have led to a higher percentage of scrap being brought in to be refined. A number of UK-based manufacturers and designers are taking advantage of Capella’s services, bringing in scrap that can be turned into products made with locally recycled metals.

The refinery has also noticed an increase in the number of people scrapping their jewelry for cash instead of holding on to it for what are probably sentimental reasons. With most people’s current economic situations, the prospect of having cash rather than the old bracelet they inherited is an enticing one.

The Refining Process

Once an item arrives at the refinery, the first order of business is to determine its alloy. The tests range from using magnets to detect any metal that is not precious to using a radiation machine to determine the metal’s purity. Interestingly, many customers find that they have been mislead in regard to the precious metal content of their jewelry. For example, a necklace with a hallmark near the clasp declaring it to be 9 karat gold may actually be made primarily of a base metal while just the clasp contains the advertised gold content. Items of value are kept to be refined and the rest are given back to the customer, who has the option of receiving cash for their valuable precious metal or having it returned as a bar for investment.

Metals that are kept to be refined are then melted and subject to a complex electrolyte process that takes several days to create a final product that is 99.99% pure gold. Capella has the capacity to refine almost 450 pounds of gold every week. Bloor enjoys knowing people use his service to take something old and give it new life.

If you have any kind of precious metal scrap that you would like to trade in for gold, you can ship it directly to CJ Environmental to be refined. We will cover the associated shipping and processing costs—all you need to do it send in your unwanted precious metal scrap, whether it be sterling silver jewelry or gold coins, and wait for your cash in return.

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