If you have scrap gold and want to sell it, you'll have to start by finding out exactly what you have and its potential worth. Gold is valued by weight on the open market and is measured and priced in troy ounces rather than in grams. The troy ounce is different from the ounces -- called avoirdupois ounces -- commonly used to measure weight in the U.S. Furthermore, gold is available in varying levels of purity: 24-karat, 18-karat, 14-karat or 10-karat gold. All of these variables make for a complicated process of evaluation.
Examine each piece of your scrap gold and identify its gold content. Gold jewelry typically bears a stamp that declares its gold content, such as 14k or 18k. Prepare separate containers for the items, designated by gold content, and place each piece into the appropriate container. This will help avoid confusion during the weighing process.
Weigh each container's pile of scrap gold separately, using a digital scale that provides either gram or ounce measurements. Most digital kitchen or postal scales will do the job. The more accurate the scale, the more accurate the weight measurement and the more accurate your gold-value estimate will be. Record the total weight of each gold-content grouping.
Convert the weight of your gold in grams or avoirdupois ounces to troy ounces so you can better calculate the market value of your scrap gold. To do this, divide each group's weight in grams by 31.1 or divide each group's weight in ounces by 1.1. The result of either calculation will provide you the weight of your scrap gold in troy ounces. For example, 50 grams of gold converts to about 1.6 troy ounces, while 2 avoirdupois ounces of gold converts to about 1.82 troy ounces.
Calculate the percentage of pure gold in each of your piles. Because 24-karat gold is 100-percent pure, you would divide the karats of each pile by 24 to determine its purity. Gold that is 18-karat, for example, is 75-percent pure (18 divided by 24), while gold that is 14-karat is 58-percent pure (14 divided by 24). To find out how much pure gold is in each pile of scrap, you must multiply it by the appropriate percentage. To illustrate, if you have 2 troy ounces of 18-karat gold, you would multiply it by .75, which would show you have 1.5 troy ounces of pure gold.
Add together the pure-gold content of the piles to find the total troy weight of your scrap gold. Look up the current market price of gold and use this dollar amount to calculate the value of the gold you have. Multiply the troy-ounce weight of your scrap by the current market value to find its monetary worth. If, for instance, you end up with 2.2 troy ounces of pure gold, and the current market value is $1,550 per troy ounce, your gold would be worth about $3,410.
- Calibrate your scale, using an item with a known weight, to ensure accuracy before weighing your gold.
- Rates and commissions vary among jewelers and other gold buyers, so shop around. The difference of a few percentage points can be significant when large dollar amounts are involved. Know the value of your gold before shopping it so you recognize a fair price when you hear it.
- Gold can be incorrectly marked, or shorted. For instance, some pieces that are stamped as 14-karat gold may actually contain only 13 karats of pure gold. This will reduce its value when tested by a jeweler or other professional.
Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.