Frequently Asked Questions About Gold Refining

Posted on: 18 January 2016

When you go to sell old gold jewelry to a pawn shop or jeweler, you will realize that the amount of money that they offer you is not the amount that an ounce of gold is selling for on the stock market. There are a few reasons for this. First, the jeweler or pawn shop has to make some profit on it, so they can't offer you what they intend to sell it for. Secondly, your gold jewelry is likely mixed with metal alloys. Anything other than 24 karat gold is mixed with these alloys and as such, the weight of these is accounted for and deducted from the price you are offered. Lastly, the pawn shop or jeweler refines the gold, and a small amount of gold is lost during this process, and it takes time and effort, both of which affect the price you are offered. If you have never heard of gold refining before, you may have many questions. Here are a few frequently asked questions about gold refining.

How is Gold Refined?

Gold refining is done to remove impurities from gold. There are two primary ways this is done. The first way is to use fire reaching upwards of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature. The gold is placed in a crucible, which is a graphite cup. The fire then heats the gold up, causing it to melt. As it melts, it is stirred. Most impurities will either dissolve at such hot temperatures or float to the top, where they can be skimmed out and removed. This is the oldest method of removing impurities from gold and dates back to biblical times.

The second way to refine gold is to soften the gold with heat and then use acids and chemicals. Strong acids will cause soft gold to liquefy, while dissolving impurities in the process. The gold then has to be neutralized and washed, which removes any impurities that didn't dissolve.

Once the refining process is done, the liquefied gold can be poured into a mold. This can be a gold bar, gold coin, or a mold for jewelry, such as rings or chains for necklaces and bracelets.

What Impurities Are Removed From Gold When it is Refined?

When gold is refined, anything that isn't pure gold is considered an impurity. When gold is mined, refining is done to remove rock, stone and minerals that may be adhered to the gold. When jewelry is refined, it is the metal alloys that are used to strengthen gold that are removed. Refining also helps to change the shape of gold, allowing it to be molded into a new shape or item.

Are Gold Parting and Gold Refining the Same Things?

Occasionally, you may hear the term gold parting used interchangeably with gold refining. This may make you wonder if they are the same thing. However, while there are people who use the terms interchangeably, they technically are two similar, yet different, processes. Gold and silver are often mined from the same sources, and it is quite common for them to be intertwined. Gold parting is done to separate gold from silver. Gold parting is typically done through acid parting or a method called the Miller process. Once the gold and silver are separated, each is then refined to remove any additional impurities that remain.

Impurities in gold can lower the gold content. They can also affect its color, shine and strength. As such, gold refining is done. This helps to remove any impurities from gold, leaving behind pure gold, which can then be molded and formed into any gold shape. For more information about the process, contact a company like Mid-States Recycling & Refining.