Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Problems with a refiner

mean WOW…I won’t name any names, as I’m not trying to be ugly here.
But honestly, how is it that I very carefully seperate my gold and
silver scrap, and clearly mark the contents and their corresponding
weights on each baggie, only to have the refiner oops combine the
bags and send me a check for the weight of silver only?? And then
they try to tell me that my bag that had the gold must not have been
marked (uh, it WAS) so that’s why they ‘assumed’ that little bag of
metal was also silver? Now my white gold scrap is mixed up with a
HUGE bag of silver scrap, and I am at the mercy of the refiner to
seperate the gold, weigh it, and send me another check. I am SO
irritated that this has happenned, and that they tried to tell me
that the bag containing the gold was not marked (so as to pass some
of the blame on to me?) I packaged the material as if a 5 year old
was going to have to deal with it. Not sure if it does me any good,
but at least I photographed my clearly marked bags before I boxed
them up for shipping. Of course I sent in the photo to the company so
they could see, in big fat sharpie, - 18K GOLD. UN-beleivable. I just
can’t go with ‘people make mistakes’ in this case. No. Dealing with
expensive precious metals, people should not be making mistakes.

Anyone else ever have an experience like this? Right now the only
thing that will make me feel better is the old ‘misery loves
company’ scenario…


Monika- Wow is right. I’ve been in the biz since the late 60s and
have never separated my metals. I just send it in and they tell me
how much platinum, gold, and sliver I have.

I’ve used AAA Precious Metals in Portland Oregon for as long as I
can remember and they have always given me a good return. So do tell.
Who were you using?


I would personally call the owner of the refinery you used (Hoover
and Strong is my hands down always use refiner for over 30 years-
they have never made a mistake and call to verify the refinery order
they receive and advise you if there is an assay charge to be added
to any charge that may be incurred with your “order”) and explain
the response you got from the person you spoke with and how
unacceptable it is to you, calmly. I would also let the owner know
that you have photographs of the scrap order you sent in and that
while you would like to avoid litigation, if they cannot give you a
fair settlement on the refining order you sent in you will have to
take the matter up with your attorney. But first, let me say always
call your refiner to verify the contents of your order -particularly
if you have never used them before, Get a delivery confirmation on
the package noting the weight somewhere on the green ticket you
attach if using the USPost, or note it on the UPS/FedEx label- then
there is some proof of the weight you sent in. Never use them again,
and it would be a service to all your fellow jewelers to let us know
who did this- so no one else has a similar experience and can take
all necessary packaging precautions and photograph the order before
submitting it. Most refiners provide containers for scrap, so take
advantage of them- they are free and it helps in the long run to use
the company’s familiar packaging when submitting scrap. If assaying
is required note it on polishings, sweeps, etc. and expect to have
that sum deducted…all-in-all, baggies aren’t the best method to use
despite what a phone rep may say is acceptable. You will probably
have to file a claim in small claims court and the burden of proof is
on you in this case… unless the owner or refining manager sees the
photograph you took and is sympathetic…rer

The refinery that I use has a process to extract and return stones in
the refining process. One refining lot that I sent in, the refinery
failed to extract the stones. When the refinery called with the
settlement and I asked about the stones…ooops. The refinery, United
Precious Metals, bent over backwards to make it right and did so
immediately. United was very upfront and never tried to blame me for

I believe that a quality fire assay will determine the weight of gold
and silver in a sample pin. If that is the case (and someone please
correct me if I’m wrong) your refinery should be able to tell you
what your gold content was easily. And, with the way metal prices are
rising, they should do it quickly so that YOUR cash-flow doesn’t

I wish you luck in solving your problem. Teddy

Shouldnt make any difference to the refiner, they should assay for
precious metal content and pay you for what is there. Here in the UK
I use 2 refiners and they normally mix gold and silver if you only
send small quantities of gold (or mixed alloy) and I then only have
to pay for 1 melt and assay and I get paid for that small abount of
silver in the gold alloy to boot! I have to tell them if I mix
platinum group metals together to get paid for palladium or rhodium
as not only do I get more money but it makes a difference as to
where they have the metal processed so they can make their cut.


I would just like to add one comment to this thread. I have read
many recommendations for Hoover & Strong as the place to go with your
refining if you want it perfect. My first and only experience with
them, alas, does not bear this out.

I was very careful in weighing out my materials. I very clearly
wrote my cover letter. I was refining a client’s gold wedding band
(he is now divorced) to turn THAT RING into earrings for his
daughters. He wanted the old metal in the new earrings. I also sent
in, separately and clearly marked, a lot of silver scrap and other
gold for refining and asked that the value be sent in 14k gold sheet.
I spoke to the woman clerk in the refining department to confirm
H&S’s receipt, and that she clearly understood what should happen.

When I received the package back, I got back exactly one piece of
gold. When I called H&S, the woman clerk was very very apologetic,
but explained that she had no control over what the guys in the
refining room had done, that she had explained what I needed to have
happen, and they went ahead and did whatever they wanted anyway.
(These were her words, not mine).

I had to disclose this to my client and he was very upset. I would
not use this company again, because I could not have been more clear
about what I needed, and my express instructions were ignored.

I am glad that other people have had 30 years of experience with no
mistakes, but they made a big one on my first order, and there was
no way to make it right.



I am having some problems with a supply of my own. Not from a
refiner…totally different situation but the same outcome. When we
are not able to control 100% of what we do (chains made elsewhere,
refining specifics, quality of metal, questions of content…), how
do we handle this? What do we do?

It takes up to 10 positive interactions to begin most trusting
relationships. It only takes 1 bad one to ruin that relationship and
lose any referred business from that person.

And I’m asking, because I am not able to manage what I do, start to
finish. Anyone can make a mistake…some by accident, some by
negligence, some by stupidity and some by design.

Looking for answers…

I am sorry that happened to you, for some reason no one told you
that no refiner would refine one ring. It is just not practical
financially. Some refiners work in kilos of gold at a time.

Richard Hart


Let me get this straight. You sent in one (ONE!) wedding band that
you wanted Hoover and Strong to refine and send back as one piece of
metal??? If Hoover was my company I would have charged you a couple
of thousand dollars to do that (or simply refused to do the job). You
were saying to them that you want them to dedicate an entire refining
kiln to your one wedding band, turn it into 24k gold and then
dedicate an entire operation to refining that one piece back to 14k?
If that was truly what you wanted you should have just repoured the
metal yourself into whatever form you wanted. Hoover is not a couple
of guys with a torch and a couple of ingots. They are running a major
manufacturing operation. You should be glad that you got the metal
back in the rest of the 14k you got from them and you should have
told the customer that his metal WAS in the final product. Anytime a
customer comes in and tells me they want me to use their metal they
are always forewarned that I may need to add metal. Of course I
wouldn’t ever send something like that to a refiner unless it was at
least a couple of ounces of gold. Methinks your anger is misdirected.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140


unless you melt some one’s ring down yourself, the chances are that
no refiner is going to separate out one single item and assay it (a
minimum charge of 75$ at H&S and more at other refiners) melt it down
separate from the rest of your scrap and then return it to you
prefabricated (as a sheet, wire, etc in the dimensions you specify)
on a scrap refining order. sorry to say but I think the mistake was
yours in this particular case. Once you understand how they (H&S)
handle refining ( it’s in their catalog and on their website) without
calling Stewart Grice, the manager of their refining department
yourself and requesting, in advance what you are proposing they do
with a single band ( read: a couple of grams of Au) and asking
whether or not it is a possibility and what extra charges will be
incurred for special handling, the possibility that someone that
routinely handles scrap all day every day is going to deviate from
how they operate is rather slim…regardless of what notes you tape to
which baggie…

Otherwise gold is gold and once it is melted from that original ring
(your customer wanted fabricated into earrings) whatever "energy"
that was attached was consumed in the fire…don’t you think?

I also pose this question: If H&S sent you two pieces of sheet of the
same karat, size and colour, how would you have been able to tell
which was the one containing the ring’s content?..

As you said this was your first and only experience with H&S…but I
for one, have experience with at least 5 currently operating refiners
and Hoover and Strong is hands down the most honest, most reasonable
assayists, and their employees are truly customer service
oriented…the secretary you spoke with is in a different building
entirely from the refining division and told you she communicated
your request to the refinery…

Other than your calling the refining department yourself, or simply
melting down the ring yourself and rolling it out, I am puzzled at
your expectations of the entire system…I encourage my students to
refine and reuse their scrap- in fact that is one of the first topic
areas I cover with them and add a discussion of outsourced refineries
( hoover and strong being my personal recommendation every time for
all metals) and how the process works…I don’t intend to imply that
you did anything wrong in this case,(- in fact it was that you were
aiming to please your customer…)

just that you weren’t aware of how refining works once a parcel of
scrap leaves your studio. But once you realized what happened do you
think it was necessary to tell your customer that it was not the same
gold, or rather that his gold was mixed with the rest of your
scrap…gold is gold…his gold may now be combined with gold from
ancient civilizations, etc. the point is how, unless handling it
entirely oneself,can anyone tell the origin of the gold in your

True, it is unfortunate that his ring was lost in processing, but 10
times out of 10 the gold one receives from the refiner as a
settlement is not the gold sent in…basic and true of most ( united
precious metals in Alden NY where you can go watch “your” gold get
processed if you desire may be the exception).Understanding the
process is the key here. Had you known, or had any previous
experience with refining you probably would not have told your
customer that you could guarantee his gold would be retrieved…



First, I work for Precious Metals West, a long time gold refiner.
Each refiner has important differences in fees and procedures. It’s a
bit like long distance or cellular calling plans-Go with the one that
matches your circumstances-By meta and quantity and by nature-if you
do platinum two tone work, you have a mixed filings content. That is
different than a straight gold filings batch. I’m not writing to
pitch PMWEST, I’m suggesting you go over your material and your
refiner’s fees carefully before you send them in.

Look at fees in different ways-by weight and by money. Example-if
refiner x charges 15% to refine platinum that’s $330 an ounce these
days. Silver at the same percentage-15% of 20 is a mere $3 bucks an
ounce!! If a refiner has a fee schedule that defies your
comprehension when compared to your lot-Get good help from them
and/or keep looking for refiners. It’s simple-The good refiners can
explain fees accurately and offer options that fit your needs… or

Daniel Ballard


Just one more note-Refining is on everyone’s minds these days At
least one refiner (us, PMWest) will do one band- For $100 the minimum
charge. We do that at PMWest for green/sentimental gold customers.
Tiny batch refining is out there, and not just by us. For those who
need to check content-without or before refining-In Los Angeles
Daniel & Son Assayers does Fire assays, X ray fluorescence, and
DCP-another high tech analysis for very reasonable fees.

Daniel Ballard

I just shipped a large shipment to Hoover & Strong today. I wouldn’t
use anyone else. Finest reputation in the business. Right now, they
are much slower, about 4 weeks, whereas a year ago I would have my
check in less than a week after shipping to them. But this kind of
wait is to be expected right now With gold prices as they are, the
scrap business is booming.


Just one more note-Refining is on everyone's minds these days At
least one refiner (us, PMWest) will do one band- For $100 the
minimum charge. 

I am glad to know that, I had never heard of anyone doing such a
small amount. In my experience it is not the norm. When the need
arises I will use your service for that type of situation. All the
work I have done using the customers gold was cast or I rolled it out
and fabricated except when it was white gold.

Richard Hart