I’m sure there are more “types” of solid gold you can find amongst silver jewelry, but here are two common ones that I seem to find on a consistent basis. Whatever the “type”, nothing beats the rush of realizing the piece of silver you’re holding is actually gold!
White Gold Hides in Silver Jewelry
This may sound obvious but it’s more common than you think, even amongst those experienced enough to “know better”. I’ve done it myself, and though on accident, it was a couple months later before I realized one of my silver necklaces was really a white gold necklace.
This is good news for anyone who has a collection of silver jewelry, or those of us who buy and sell silver and other jewelry. Even the “urban treasure hunters” can benefit from this tidbit… as it means that once in a while you’ll find white gold instead of silver.
First things first… check the jewelry markings. This is a dead giveaway, but lots of times we don’t take the time to read the markings (or more often, they’re too small to easily distinguish). So get a good jewelers loupe or magnifier… make sure you can read what’s stamped on the jewelry.
If the marks are worn too much to read, this could be a good sign… gold is softer than silver, which means that most gold allows wear faster than their silver counterparts. If the markings are worn to the point you can’t read them, always test the item for metal content and purity.
One more thing to keep in mind is that white gold usually looks different than silver jewelry. By itself, you likely won’t notice… but white gold usually stands out when mingled with silver jewelry. So when you’re looking, keep in mind that gold pieces will look different.
Gold & Sterling Silver
The second type of solid gold that is commonly found with silver jewelry are the combination pieces… where both yellow gold and sterling silver are soldered together on one piece. These are much easier to spot than white gold in silver, though it can be much more troublesome to separate the gold from the silver.
These pieces are usually made from silver, and thin sheets of solid gold are cut and shaped then placed over the silver in the form of design accents and the like. Don’t confuse these with gold-plated items… the gold-plating is super-thin and impossible to recover while physical “scraps” of gold soldered to sterling silver are a different matter entirely.
This could be anything from a pendant, to a ring, to a money clip, and even belt buckles. One giveaway is if you look close, you can actually see a layer of gold sitting on (or in) the silver. The other giveaway is the jewelry markings…
Gold & Sterling Markings
When you find one of these pieces, they’ll likely have two markings in close proximity… one silver marking and one gold marking. The marks are normal enough, something like “10k Sterling” is commonly found on solid gold and sterling belt buckles. What’s not common is having both a gold and silver marking together. When you find a marking like this, you know that the item is silver but also has enough solid gold to be worth your attention.
Removing Solid Gold from Sterling Silver
Since these pieces were made by soldering (welding) gold to silver, a very similar process can be used to de-solder the solid gold. First, the piece is covered in gold flux, a mixture used to help solder flow when heated to the right temperature. Next, a torch is used to properly heat the gold and silver jewelry “just enough” to turn the solder into liquid but not so much that the gold and silver themselves melt. When the solder is in a liquid state, so is the bond between the gold and silver metals and they will easily fall (or slide) apart.
So now you know a couple new tricks for finding gold jewelry and maximizing the value of your silver jewelry (by finding gold in it).
Stay tuned, much more to come…