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The golden points of gold

In addition to its natural beauty, gold can be recycled from broken jewelry! But, how do you know if you have a golden opportunity on your hands?

Gold can be an intimidating material; many jewelry makers imagine it wreaking havoc on their nerves and budget. But making your first piece of gold jewelry is often a milestone in a jewelry maker’s career. In addition, working with gold has many benefits! Two advantages to using gold are that it does not firescale like silver does and that it can be easily recycled.

Stumped on where to start with gold or how to work with it? Read on for more information about what to do to salvage gold jewelry, and what to look for. You can also view our "Gold Karat Calculator" to do the math for you!

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Recycled Gold

Gold’s recyclability is one of its noteworthy features. If you’d like to salvage some broken gold jewelry, first check each piece for a karat (k) stamp. If it’s not stamped, don’t use it. Try to keep the karats separate. Use only 14k or 18k gold to make the balls for a project. Lower karats will produce pits with this technique.

To separate the solder from the gold, place the gold on your soldering pad and gently heat it to oxidize the gold solder. Use flush cutters to clip off any parts that are oxidized, and set these pieces aside in a container marked with the karat.

The gold that does not have solder on it can be melted down and used in future jewelry making.

Pure gold
Pure gold (24k) is too soft to hold up under daily wear, so for most uses it has been “karated” or alloyed with other metals to make it harder and, subsequently, more durable. 

Under the United States marking system, pure gold is 24k. The karat numeral represents the amount of pure gold in the alloy. For example, 10k equals 10 parts of pure gold to 14 parts of other metals, making a total of 24 parts. Under European marking systems, the numerals represent parts of pure gold in the alloyper 1000 total parts. 

Standard karats of gold used in jewelry are 10k, (not made in Europe), 14k (585), 18k (750), and 22k (920). United States law prohibits any item less than 10k from being called “gold.” 

During the alloying process, the color, malleability, and melting point of karated gold can be altered. Gold can be alloyed to yellow, rose, peach, pink, green, white, gray, blue, and the rarely occurring purple. Each alloy has its own distinct working properties.

Don’t confuse “karat” with “carat,” which is a unit used to denote the weight of a gemstone. The abbreviation for carat is “ct.”
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