Refining for the first time

Hello everyone!

I have a few questions about refining. I have wanted to ask this for
awhile now.

Well I have been watching the price of metals climb ever skyward. I
think that it is worth my wild now to send the metal that I have in.
It is all of the metal that I have collected over the years. To my
amazement a number of pieces of gold are thing that I have picked up
off the ground. So I have Fine silver, lots of sterling silver, 10k,
14k and maybe an 18k piece that I am not sure about refining yet. I
have been reading the thread here about troubles with refiners, so I
have some reservations about this process. Who is on Orchid is a
refiner? I want to trust someone in the “family” to do this.

I know that there is atleast 3 levels of scrap. There is the big
stuff i.e. old jewelry, drops of stock material. Now correct me if I
am wrong on this. But the next level is filing like that are in your
catch pan. Then there is everything else. Stuff swept off floor,
airfilters from buffer, sandpaper, sludge from ultrasonic and sink

Now will I divide out the first group into different material, kt
and color or should I just melt all the gold and silver into one
ingot? I also collect old watches and have a good hand full of
gold-filled and rolled gold cases. Will they take this? Is it worth
messing with? And what level does this fall in, 1,2 or 3?

A question about other metals. When we refine there is rhodium,
palladium, nickel and copper that comes out of these alloys. I guess
most important is the rhodium. At nearly $9300 and oz you would like
to know what happens to that. Is it a give me to the refiner and then
there are the other metals too.

So I am looking for guidance here and don’t want to get shafted
because I did this wrong.


First Rodney,

I strongly recommend Hoover and Strong. I have personally used them
for many years without incident and with amazing results- for
instance you say you have rhodium in your scrap, for their minimum
assay charge (75$ with a 10% discount for first time refining) you
will get the value (100% of market with H&S) and for all other metals
they find in the process. In the UK, I dealt with Cookson & Sons, and
was satisfied with their procedures and results.

Most refiners will provide you, free of charge, containers in which
you can send most of your materials. Plastic heavy mil bags without
a zip top (freezer storage bags with twist ties available at grocers
widely) should be fine for the rest. Hoover and strong does take
gold filled and watch bands (if you download their refining form you
will see how they would like it broken down). They do not accept
carpet or flooring though, you will have to send those somewhere else
if you are ready to replace- or with the market as it is capitalize
now on higher returns than in the last - twenty years! For your clean
scrap (which means removing any and all solder, and ferrous metals
[pass as strong a magnet as you can get over the various lots you
have]) copy the refining sheet as many times as is necessary for as
many types of materials you want to submit. Clean materials,
serialised ingots and coinage do not require assaying unless you
think there are enough recoverable metals of a different element than
what you are claiming- for instance -you are sending in clean 18
scrap, most of it is yellow gold but you may have some peach
or light -green gold sweeps or filings included, so there is fine
silver you may wish to claim and if you have enough weight to begin
with then the assay charge may be warranted instead of sending all in
as 750 gold and asking for your return in 750 gold and cash or
credit to your account (in taking a credit you get a discount on your
next order of 10% to begin and then the table of weight:price
discounts begin as with most metals dealers).

Your sweeps, filings, and polishings are separated and will require
assaying to get the most return on your submission. In known lots of
mixed metals you will have to have them assayed (mokume-gane
billet/rod pieces, bi-metal bits and removed material, etc.).
Polishings are the “everything else” that doesn’t come out of your
sweeps tray on your bench, filings from fabrication, or clean scrap-
meaning pieces of metals that you cut wrong, trimmed off, the things
you found on the ground-in a word; larger stuff that could be fused
into designs or melted down & mixed with new gold and alloy(s) and
then milled into sheet wire, etc. I save polishing papers, radial
bristle discs, old cratex wheels that have become clogged, bands
from various holders, crepe gum that was used to clean files, or
sanding bands, wet wipes used on the bench, any rubber or polishing
points & wheels, FX wheels, sink trappings (dried out thoroughly by
spreading on a piece of glass or freezer paper covered board in a hot
car on a sunny day- works very fast!)…anything that contains
precious metals and keep it in a single lined can that will go in one
lot to the refiner- over a period of 2-5 years you would be amazed at
the amount of metals recoverable from collecting these items to the
point that this alone will more than cover assaying or refining fees.

If you have watches, bands, etc. that have stones in them, it is far
cheaper no matter what refiner you use to take them out yourself
prior to submitting your lot. The charge for stone removal and the
additional processing time it takes is not worth the costs and delay.

Most refiners pay you based on the day received, at present any day
is a good day this week!, the return is variable by refinery and H&S
for one pay 100% market for clean scrap as I mentioned above. There
are one or two that allow you to go to the facility and watch your
materials through the processing, unless you live near them I
wouldn’t make a trip to do so. On the other hand, I trust H&S to
deliver me the most return on my refining and have for a long while.
I tried United precious metals and David Fell, United does accept
carpet/flooring and I was satisfied enough with their return, but
their mill prices and the quality of products doesn’t compare with
the things Hoover and Strong offers in my opinion, so I take my
return on those types of items in cash. David Fell was an entirely
different experience altogether. Many west coast colleagues like the
company and their services, I for one was completely unimpressed. I
weigh and photograph (with a date stamp and news paper) each lot or
item I send in (these days) using a digital scale - their figures
never matched a single submission I sent in in a blind comparison
with H&S when I was interested in some D. H. Fell products. Further
they never would respond to emails I sent inquiring about their
products so not a company I am interested in dealing with whatsoever-
In short every one’s experience with refiners is different and
location does seem to matter in choosing. If I lived in Alden NY I
would no more switch from H&S just because I could witness my scrap
being processed-trust must be cultivated with your refiner. With me
it was instant with H&S, when I sent in parcels weighing the same and
containing the same metals to 3 different refiners years ago and
getting the most back from H&S, (partially because I had already
established an account with them ).

As for your rhodium plated stuff: presuming it is Pt based, separate
it from other white golds you have and using H&S’s form as an
example, there is a box on the sheet that says “assay for___”, write
in rhodium and the charge will be less than assaying materials you
are certain do not contain Pt and/or Rh. I highly recommend attaching
a refining form to each item you send in so there are no questions on
the part of the refinery worker that processes your metals. Also read
the refining terms of different dealers from Kitco to D. H. Fell to
Cookson (if you live in the UK). reading your selected refiners
methodology for how each processes metal submissions will shed some
light on each one’s nuances or differences and clarifies what is and
is not acceptable.

So, if you have enough scrap, and since it sounds like you are a
first time refining customer I encourage you to do a blind
comparison of your return from a couple of companies and then choose
the one that offers what you expect in customer services, actual
return and options for settlement. Ofcourse, Hoover and Strong is my
personal recommendation but if you live in Alden NY and have
carpeting full of metal dust United may be your choice! If you have
any questions feel free to contact me off list.


Hi Rodney,

Answering your questions would amount to laying out our fee schedule
for everybody to wade through. You are very welcome to contact me at
our phone or email. Rhodium is a very thin plating when used-Getting
that tiny value back (even at thousands per ounce micrograms do not
amount to much)

You are right about the levels of value. Think of it this way-Close
to jewelry content like your first batch is 25% gold and up.

Then you have that random stuff like plated or filled mixed with the
real stuff. Plated runs from less that 1% gold up to about 2% usually
by weight. Gold filled is 5% of the karat used so figure two or three
percent gold there. Unless you have a lot of the high percentage
stuff the difference in value by weight is huge. You go from fifty or
sixty percent gold or more (if you work or found lots of 18kt) all
the way down to just a few percent.

The usual in-between middle value yield is bench filings that get
saw blades, sandpaper grit, and more. You did not mention any in your
note. Filings run from over ten percent to over fifty percent gold

Silver-Sterling is 92.5% pure -but silverware has all kinds of
complications-steel knife blades, plaster or shellac hollow core
work, etc.

Floor sweeps-Truly random!

Perhaps getting a bar made from your scrap and then getting an assay
from a non refining lab would be a good idea. That way you know all
about your stuff before you sel it or trade for metal.

Talk to two or three refiners about charges. Get them to help with
your estimate and then go for it.

Daniel Ballard