Scrap Gold: What To Avoid
Just as important as knowing what to look for is knowing what to avoid! Here is where your magnifier becomes your best friend. Anything that shows a carat number followed by the letters “GE” or “HGE” is not gold. HGE stands for “Heavy Gold Electroplate”, while GE stands for “Gold Electroplate”. Items that bear these markings contain very little gold, and are often not worth more than a few dollars. In many cases, you can see where the gold has actually been rubbed off, exposing the base metal underneath.
The second thing to watch out for is anything that has a percentage of 1/10 or 1/20, followed by a karat marking (usually 12K or 14K), followed by the letters “GF”. So, for example, you’ll find a fancy looking tie tack that is marked “1/10 14K GF”. Decoded, this means that the tie tack is not 14 karat gold – instead, it is 1/10th 14 karat gold by weight. These items are also known as “gold filled” and ought to be avoided as they are not normally attractive to gold buyers. Unless they’re free or almost free, and unless you can get a lot of them to resell for their intrinsic artistic value, these items are just a waste of money.
The third thing to be on the lookout for is another version of the “Gold Filled” markings we just discussed. Let’s say you found a pretty gold colored pocket watch that looks like it is probably worth a lot of money. You flip it over, and on the back, you see ‘10/14K. This watch is actually gold filled – the mark means the same as 1/10 14K GF does.
Fourth, watch out for anything marked “RGP” with any karat number behind it. This is copper coated in gold and is not normally valuable at all. The amount of gold used in most RGP pieces is usually worth only a few cents.
Lastly, be careful of anything that looks brand new, but which has a marking which is only partially readable. Fashion jewelry from brands like Avon, Triffary, Monet, and other low end manufacturers is usually electroplated or gold filled. In addition, anything clearly marked with “China”, “Korea”, “Hong Kong” or “Taiwan” ought to be avoided as manufacturers from these countries do not normally make solid gold items. Unless an item is clearly marked with a karat purity marking and no other letters or numbers, it’s probably worthless.
Read the next section, Determining Value.
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