Selling your broken, outdated or just unwanted gold jewellery is a brilliant way to make some extra cash, and help meet the commercial demand for the precious metal.
As we’ve seen, the electronics industry is constantly in need of gold for the technology we use every day, but one key market for scrap gold has really shrunk in recent years.
At one time, having a gold tooth – or two – was a real status symbol but just like a pair of 1980s earrings, fashion has moved on and people are less likely to want to flash a bit of sparkling precious metal among their pearly whites.
Around 67 tonnes of gold were used annually to mend or enhance people’s smiles 10 years ago, but today, the figure has plummeted. According to the World Gold Council, demand for gold from dentistry has fallen by around 60 per cent since the start of the decade. It says just shy of 19 tonnes of gold were used in dentistry last year.
The high gold prices seen during the recession and the passion for whiter than white Hollywood smiles is being blamed for the fall in demand in the last few years.
Lindsay Richards, dean of dentistry at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, told IOL: “We hardly ever use gold in front teeth now, almost never. I would’ve last done a gold filling 10 years ago in a front tooth. For the back teeth, it’s still an excellent material, but people don’t like the look of it.”
Gold is considered one of the strongest materials for repairing teeth, and unlike porcelain, it won’t crack and split. It’s believed to have been used as a long ago as 630 BC to mend teeth and was seen as a decorative as well as a practical enhancement.
But even if the dentistry market’s demand for gold has dropped, there is still a huge need for scrap gold for so many other purposes. And with the current high prices, it’s definitely worth converting your unwanted pieces into cash.
Now is probably one of the best times to dig out your old, broken and unwanted pieces of gold and convert them into cash, because gold prices have been steadily rising – and it doesn't look like they’ll be heading in the opposite direction for some time.
The gold price soared during the recession because big investors tend to consider the precious metal a safe place to park their cash when things are uncertain. However, when the economic recovery started to gather pace, investors looked around for the better returns that come from more risky investments and took their money out of gold. As a result, the gold price – and the amount you receive for your unwanted gold – plummeted.
But so far this year, we’re seen a big turnaround. The price of gold in the first three months of 2016 has rocketed, due to a combination of worldwide factors. Fears about the international economy and the threat of terrorism have sent investors looking for the ‘safe haven’ of gold again, and as a result, the price has recovered.
Figures from the World Gold Council show that the price of gold increased by 17 per cent in the first quarter of this year – that’s its best performance in almost 30 years. Although the price you’ll receive in return for you scrap gold hasn’t quite hit the heights we saw during the recession, many market analysts expect the gold price to continue rising. They say we’re in a ‘bull market’ for the precious metal, and depending on what happens on the world stage, the price could continue in its upwards direction.
The gold price changes minute by minute depending on trading around the world, and of course it does go down as well as up.
But if you’ve been having a spring clean or sort out, it’s a great time to find out what your unwanted or broken pieces are worth.
Selling your scrap gold jewellery for extra cash is easy – easy for you and easy for industry to get at the precious metal it contains and reuse it. But it’s hasn’t been such an easy job for people who are recycling gold from electronic waste – until now.
The tried and tested method of extracting scrap gold from old computers and mobile phones involves using dangerous chemicals including cyanide and acids which actually dissolve the precious metals. The gold is then recovered from the chemicals by passing an electric current through the liquid.
Cyanide, which is also used in gold mines to get at the bullion, can be a safety nightmare, with many levels of security put in place to stop the poisonous fumes from escaping.
But now a team at the National University of Singapore has come up with a safer and more environmentally-friendly technology that uses bacteria usually found in soil to do the job.
They’ve created big pools containing the bacteria that can remove gold from old electronic equipment in a week. Although the hazardous chemicals can do the same thing in an hour, the pools containing the bacteria can be used again and again. And they also have the benefit of leaving the gold whole – unlike chemicals, which dissolve it.
The team is three years into a five year project to prove the new idea and they’re working with Singapore electronic waste company Cimelia to refine it. The project itself is costing around $2 million (£1.4 million).
The plant manager’s, Mr Nagendra, told the Straits Times: "We have every intention to use this new technology in our electronic waste recycling process upon the successful completion of the project."
It just shows how badly the industry needs scrap gold if it’s prepared to spend millions on new ways to extract it.
So, if you do have any broken or unwanted gold jewellery tucked away that you think isn’t really worth anything, it might be worth reconsidering.
Obtaining money for ‘scrap’ gold jewellery – the unwanted or broken items lying in the back of a drawer – is great way to make some extra cash.
Such is the demand from industry for gold components, whether that’s for a new smartphone or for the circuits in a laptop, there’s no sign of the market diminishing any time soon. And because gold is currently enjoying some of the highest prices in years, the return you receive is also up.
The electronics industry is one of the major users of scrap gold. It’s reckoned that around £25 worth of gold goes into manufacturing a new laptop, and from a commercial point of view, it’s much cheaper for makers to use recycled precious metals than buy newly-mined gold ore.
Industry estimates suggest that around 320 tonnes of gold and 7,500 tons of silver go into making new computers and hi-tech devices annually. Although laptop circuit boards require the most, your tablet device contains around £10 of the precious metal and there is around £4 of gold in the average smartphone.
As well as sourcing gold from recycled unwanted jewellery, companies are now taking up ‘urban mining’ to remove the gold content from broken or outdated technology, Channel Biz reported.
Mark Hall from BusinessWaste.co.uk, based in York, said: “Verifiable destruction combined with the smart recovery of precious metals can now be achieved by companies with the right expertise and right equipment, and it’s these urban miners who are going to profit from British industry’s continuing need for up-to-date equipment and readily-available raw materials.”
So while there may not be gold in them there hills, there probably is in your old computer. However, the best – and easiest - returns for individuals are undoubtedly in the shape of your old gold rings, earrings and necklaces.
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