How to Melt Gold Jewelry & Separate the Alloy

Written by alex r. harmon
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How to Melt Gold Jewelry & Separate the Alloy
As of June 2011, the price of gold is at an all-time high. (Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Humans have made jewellery out of every kind of metal available as far back as history can take us. As new metals became available, they were adapted into jewellery making soon thereafter. Gold is rare, expensive, and highly sought-after as an investment for the future. As of June 2011, 1 troy ounce of gold, which is the equivalent to 31.1034768 grams, can be sold for around £1,010.10 (U.S. dollars). Gold is easy to manipulate and therefore is easily worked, it never tarnishes, and the value of gold will only increase.

Skill level:
Challenging

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Things you need

  • Scrap jewellery
  • Nitric Acid
  • Pot of boiling water
  • Uric Acid
  • Hydrochloric Acid
  • Borax
  • Room temperature water
  • Crucible
  • Very thick gloves
  • Eye protection

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Go through all of your jewellery and collect the scrap pieces of jewellery that you never see yourself wearing again. Nothing is off limits here: earrings, necklaces, pendants, brooches, rings, and any other odds and ends you might find from broken jewellery. While each jewellery piece might contain gold elements, other alloys are present.

    How to Melt Gold Jewelry & Separate the Alloy
    (Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Separate out all alloys from your gold pieces by soaking the jewellery that you want refined in a bath of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid. These chemicals are powerful and are never to be handled without protective eye wear and thick gloves to protect from burns if the bath splashes onto you. These products are available commercially. Soak jewellery in the acid bath for 24 hours.

    How to Melt Gold Jewelry & Separate the Alloy
    (Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)
  3. 3

    Neutralise the acid in the bath once the allotted time has passed. Working with chemicals of such a low pH level is hazardous. Any gold lifted out of the alloy will be suspended in the acid, but will still need to be separated from it, but the acidity levels are dangerous to work with as is. Before the gold can be extracted from the alloys, the acid must be neutralised. Add boiling water and uric acid, which will drive up the pH level in the acid bath.

    How to Melt Gold Jewelry & Separate the Alloy
    Alchemists have worked with gold and other metals since the Middle Ages. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)
  4. 4

    To the mixture, add one part borax to one part water, which will draw the gold out of the solution in a matter of minutes. You will see a muddy-looking substance at the bottom of the container -- that is gold!

  5. 5

    Immediately pour off any of the excess liquid that still remains until you get down to just the muddy gold substance.

  6. 6

    Pour the substance into a mould that is fireproof, such as a crucible. Using a blowtorch, melt down the gold until it begins to take on the gold characteristics. The results of your efforts will yield a gold that is 99% pure that can be made into refurbished jewellery or sold for a nice profit.

    How to Melt Gold Jewelry & Separate the Alloy
    Melting metals are so dangerous to work with due to the high temperatures at which they melt. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Tips and warnings

  • Working with such caustic materials and high temperatures is very dangerous and protective clothing and must be worn at all times.

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