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How to Figure the Value of Scrap Gold: Simple Step-by-Step Tutorial

Updated on July 13, 2016
You can invest in gold by collecting special edition solid gold coins from around the world.  Coins are marked with their weight and purity.  (Credit: Perth Royal Mint)
You can invest in gold by collecting special edition solid gold coins from around the world. Coins are marked with their weight and purity. (Credit: Perth Royal Mint)

Saving gold is one of the most popular investment strategies, and unlike stock trading it doesn't require any specialized knowledge other than the current price of gold and past price trends. Figuring the current value of your scrap gold, jewelry, and coins is easy if you know the weight of each piece and how pure it is.

For quicker calculations, you can use an online scrap gold calculator. This tutorial will show you how to calculate your gold's worth using pencil and paper. To make the most accurate calculations, you will need a finely calibrated scale that can measure the weight of your metal in troy ounces.

Step 0

As a preliminary step, pick the weight unit you want to measure in to convert to troy ounces, the typical unit for measuring weights of precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum. If your scale measures weight in other units, you can apply these unit conversions to determine the troy ounces:

1 ounce = 0.911458333 troy ounces

1 gram = 0.0321507466 troy ounces

For example, 786.44 grams = 25.28 troy oz.

Step 1

First convert the karats or millesimal fineness units to a proportion. If the purity of the gold is measured in karats, then you divide by 24 to compute the proportion of pure gold. If the purity is in millesimal units (a number between 1 and 999) then you divide by 1000.

For instance, 18k gold has a purity ratio of 0.75, since 18/24 = 0.75. A gold bar stamped with the phrase "833 pure" has a purity ratio of 0.833, since 833/1000 = 0.833. Since gold is very soft, it is usually mixed with other metals such as copper to make jewelry harder and more durable.

Step 2

Next, multiply the weight of each coin or piece of jewelry by its purity ratio to find the mass of pure gold in the piece. For example, if the piece weighs 0.13 troy ounces and it is 0.75 pure, then the total gold mass is 0.0975 troy ounces, since (0.13)(0.75) = 0.0975. This is the amount of gold you will be able to sell to a scrap buyer.

Gold coins from China, Canada, and the US.
Gold coins from China, Canada, and the US.

Step 3

Take the sum of all the pure gold weights to find the total weight of gold you own. For instance, suppose you have 20 troy oz worth of cons that are 22k gold, and 15 troy oz worth of jewelry that is 18k gold. Your total gold weight is

(20)(22/24) + (15)(18/24) = 29.583 troy oz.

If you have gold jewelry you never wear, consider selling it for its gold value.
If you have gold jewelry you never wear, consider selling it for its gold value.

Step 4

Finally, multiply the total gold weight by the price of gold per troy ounce. This is the scrap value of your gold. You can find the current price of gold on any website that tracks commodities, such as

For example, if you have 5 troy ounces of pure gold and the current rate is $1600 per troy ounce, then your gold is worth about $8000.

Selling Your Gold and Getting a Fair Price

Keep in mind that these steps only provide an estimate, not an official appraisal. If you sell it to a large scrap gold buyer, they will take a percentage to recoup the cost of processing your jewelry and coins to extract the pure gold.

Many gold buyers who operate through the mail advertise the ease of selling your gold this way. Just stick your coins and jewelry in an envelope and they'll send you a check. Unfortunately, people often trust the buyer to come up with a fair price and neglect to make the calculations on their own to make sure they're getting the fair market value. Always figure your gold's value on your own before selling to a scrap buyer, that way you can negotiate a better price or know if you are getting ripped off.

Often times gold coins are worth more than their gold weight value because they are collectible. The same may be true of your old gold jewelry if many of the pieces are unusual or exhibit excellent craftsmanship. Rather than selling old coins and cufflinks for their scrap metal value, you may find success selling them on eBay to coin and jewelry collectors.


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    • Dumbledore profile image

      Dumbledore 5 years ago from Somewhere in Ohio

      People need to know the value of their gold before they try to cash out on one of the advertised sites.

      Traditionally, gold has held value regardless of what the economy has done. Gold is probably the best investment in this age of a devalued dollar. I wish I had bought about 100 Oz in the 70's, I could just about retire now.

      Very informative hub.

    • NigelJ profile image

      Nigel Jones 4 years ago from Florida

      Nice article, thanks. I have been investing in gold for many years now. I was able to retire to the South of France at 43 years old. In 1971 the price of gold was $35 per ounce and today it is close to $1,700.

      Very informative article. The numbers you give are pretty accurate and for most people they are enough to make a reasonable calculation. I would like to add that there are two differences for calculating 23K Asian gold and 24K gold.

      23K gold is actually 96.5% pure gold instead of 23/24 = 95.83%.

      24K gold is actually 99.9% pure gold instead of 100%.

      However, for ease of calculation your guideline of K/24 makes it very simple. Nice job on this article. :)

    • paxwill profile image

      P Williams 4 years ago from France

      Thanks, good tip. I think more are moving toward the millesimal fineness scale which gives the purity as a ratio out of a 1000.

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