Home refining? OK for a graduate chemist but all others try this at
their peril! Amateur use of acids is dangerous and almost always
illegal from an EPA standpoint.
Regarding the widely advertised I-Shor refining system.
My first problem with this is that the company in their print ads
flat out lies about how much refiners typically charge . My proof?
I quote in part from their print ad in Professional Jeweler
magazine, February 2004 issue-
“From those who did their own assay on the bench and carefully
calculated their cost both up front and hidden, the answer was always
the same: It cost $800 to have ten ounces of gold refined” You can
not truly assay on a bench.
Another very questionable claim-“100% return no losses (even if you
have no experience)” Ask a chemist about truly 100% return from a
I did the math and it is way off from what real refiners like us
Precious Metals West, Hoover & Strong, David Fell, or any of the
majors charge. You see advertised refining rates from 1% and up.
PMWest charges 2.5% and includes assay costs in that quote. The math
goes like this - at $400 gold 14kt is worth at most (58.5%) $234 per
ounce. Presume ten ounces of 14kt sent for refining. $2,340 value
less 2.5% in charges. We charge 2.5% or $58.50 for all ten ounces.
The refining cost per ounce is $5.85 per ounce. The I. Shor company
exaggerates refiners charges by more than ten fold in their print
If only the FTC took jewelry trade ads as seriously as consumer
oriented advertising from major companies…
The next paragraph in their ad is about polishing sweeps and is
laughable in its exaggerations and false claims about charges. Talk
about negative marketing! Still wondering about the process? Call the
major refiners and ask if they use the Simplicity system or anything
else based on salt bath solutions and electricity. Most of us use
Aqua Regia or chlorine.
To be fair the claim can be made that the refiner may not get all
the gold out of solution. TRUE! That is true of EVERY method of
refining. A person I used to know bought the “Simplicity Gold
refining System”, and lost his job when it failed to work well,
perhaps with operator error, perhaps not. Many ounces of gold got
tied up in solution and the stench emptied the room. Obviously
something went very wrong.
One more thing-Exaggerated claims on refiners taking too much gold
or stealing are often rooted in the practices of scrap buyers who
consolidate lots and then use a real refiner later. Most refiners
just like most jewelers are honest hard working people.
As admitted I work for a refiner. How did I get this job? When I had
my retail store and shop, I sent my refining to PMWest, and got to
know the owner. When my store failed during the Carter presidency and
amid the horrible economy I went to the people I learned to trust to
look for work.
My suggestions for Jewelers on refining
Do your homework. Learn about refining. AJM had a good article last
October. The World Gold Council has good info. So does the Santa Fe
Symposium book from last year, discussing platinum refining.
Hands on-Drag a magnet through filings to remove iron. Melt your
scrap into one bar well heated, fluxed and very well stirred. Drill
the top left and bottom right ends and keep the drillings. Send the
bar to an assay office that is unconnected to a refiner, there are
many just in Los Angeles. Pay them for their service and use the
assay to be your guide. Many refiners will actually accept a good
assay, subject to confirmation. Now what is wrong with this picture?
Can’t make a bar? Equip accordingly or call in a favor with a friend
who casts. They can make your bar for you!
I invite calls from concerned jewelers to fill in more detail about
refining strategies. After all, we can not be more successful than
Finally, I would like to thank the many unhappy buyers of the
Simplicity System for their refining business. The few happy ones are
welcome to our alloys for karating.
Precious Metals West