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Melting gold jewelry to be reused

What, if any, are the negatives to melting down a 14K gold ring and reusing the gold to make something new? Thanks in advance for your responses.

Lots in the archives about this topic. How much gold, how to you intend to rework it, does it have any solder joints, is it yellow of white, any stones to remove? More information please!..Rob

Thanks, Rob. An acquaintance has a 14K yellow gold wedding band and 14K yellow gold hoop earring (1) that she would like melted down and reused to make either a simple ring with a stone or a simple initial to be worn as a pendant for her daughter’s Quinceañera. She doesn’t have much money plus she wants to use the ring for sentimental reasons. She’s been saving for years for her daughter’s celebration. If I do the work, I would only charge her for my labor because of her financial situation. I’ve worked with 14K gold but never melted and rolled my own (I do have equipment to do so).

Martha,

I often use reclaimed gold from customers. But I have some requirements that the customer must understand first. (Some metal will be lost in the process. Can you add material if there isn’t enough?) Do you have a clear idea of a ring size for the young Quinceañera. One ring and a hoop earring is not a lot of metal and rarely is enough to make a totally new piece. Do you think it is enough for a simple nugget for a pendant or a pair of earrings. My most common application is to turn the scrap into beads (granules?) and apply them to silver rings and bracelets as accent pieces.

Do you know if there are any traditions involving jewelry for this celebration? Would a plain cross be easier to make from the metal at hand? But a cross may be a gift given only by certain family members.

I don’t think the technical aspects involved here are all that problematic. How best to use the material is the question.

Don Meixner

Don,
Thanks very much for your thoughtful response. The family is in Mexico and customs differ slightly from country to country. In Mexico, the celebration begins with a mass, at which the young girl is sometimes presented with a necklace from her godparents that has some religious significance and has been blessed by the priest. Probably why the mother did not ask for a crucifix.

I have not received the gold jewelry yet that she wants used and I had also worried that it might not be enough for what she wants and had therefore already made up my mind to supplement it, if necessary, out of my own pocket without telling her. She still has not decided on whether she wants me to make a ring or an initial pendant but I’ve made it clear that I need to have an accurate ring size.

My only concern, especially after reading some other posts about melting gold in this forum, was that the gold would loose some of its karat when melted because of whatever solder was used in the originals or that it would somehow otherwise be compromised and not look “right”. I should have been more specific in asking my original question.

Probably not necessarily an additional question for this forum but I’m wondering how ethical it would be to simply turn in her old jewelry to a refiner and substitute “fresh” gold without telling her as she is set on using her wedding band for the piece to be made for her daughter.

Thanks again for your input. Martha

Martha,
I frequently work with clients who want their old, not now worn jewelry made into something either for them or as a gift for someone they love. I work with them to design the piece. If they request, I use their gold when possible. I always use their gold when requested and let them know that more may be needed. I have not had one say no. They do want the sentimentality of grandma or grandpa’s gold and stone(s). I would not tell them that I would use their then not. I feel that would be deceitful.

Martha…You might make the piece in silver to see if she likes it. You will also then know what it weights in silver. You can then multiply the weight in silver by 1.25 (I think) to figure put how much 14K gold you need. As pointed out earlier you will always have some loss of metal, so you will need more gold than what you get with this calculation. Good luck…Rob

an interesting point or 2, I do this on a regular basis, most of the time I add gold to the mix, the customer normally does not have any issues with this.
Did you know that the 1906 Federal Stamping act allowed 14K gold that does not contain solder to be as low as 13.5K, if it contains solder it could be as low as 13K. This was revised in 1981, now the gold needs to be plumb (I think 13.997K) to be called 14K. They gave manufacturers 10 years to comply. Mixing old gold with your own has the potential to lower the karat. Chances are you will never get caught but if you do the penalties are very severe. Adding a touch of 18K to the mix keeps you honest and helps you sleep at night!
Also be aware that the Italians used to make all their chain in rose gold and then plate with an 18K Hamiliton finish. Melting too much chain will often yield rose gold.

Thanks for your responses, everyone. I’ve had a death in my family and not had time to get back to everyone. My instinct was validated by gsmietana45 that it would not be ethical to substitute fresh gold for this person’s keepsake. Interesting legal info from jclifford.

The whole question may be moot as it’s been 4 days and I have neither received the pieces in question nor heard back from the person who wants the work done. Will keep all your suggestions and info for future should the situation ever arise again.

Thank you again.

Martha

This discussion prompted me to look into changes made in the law and regulations in 2018. Following is a link to a MJSA article that discussed these changes. As a practical matter, I find it difficult, and possibly damaging, to comletely stamp small pieces of jewery that I make. I typically stamp my mark, content, a serial number and a size if it is a bracelet. At the very least, on a small piece, I stamp a combination of my mark and .925 if it is sterling. I am curious how others deal with the impact of stamping on small pieces.