Is Gold-Filled Jewelry Worth Anything?

If you have some gold-filled jewelry lying around, you may be wondering whether it has any value. In this article, we explain how to calculate the scrap value of gold-filled jewelry. We also provide a brief overview of how it’s made so you can better understand where its value lies.

What is Gold-Filled Jewelry?

‘Gold-filled’ describes a method used for making items appear as though they are produced from solid gold but they generally cost far less. Gold plating utilizes a similar technique in that a thin layer of gold is applied to a base metal to imitate the appearance of solid gold. However, unlike gold-plated jewelry, gold-filled items typically comprise a 10k or 14k gold tube that is filled with another less expensive metal like brass and is marked ‘GF’. Rolled gold also employs a similar method, except a thin sheet of gold is laminated onto the base material.

How is Gold-Filled Jewelry Made?

Without going into too much detail regarding the whole production process, gold-filled jewelry is made by fusing a thin layer of gold (10k, 12k, or 14k) onto a thicker sheet of metal or an alloy. The most common base metals are brass and bronze. Sterling silver is also used, though not as often. The two sheets are then rolled together to the desired thickness. This results in a material with the protective cover and appearance of a precious metal minus the price tag of actual gold jewelry.

How Much is Gold-Filled Jewelry Worth?

Though not solid gold, rolled gold and gold-filled items generally consist of more gold than today’s electroplated gold jewelry, which only comprises a thin layer of gold. Furthermore, the United States’ Federal Trade Commission has regulations pertaining to the quantity of gold that items need to contain to be considered ‘GF’. As a result, gold-filled jewelry can generate a return, but you usually need a large amount of it to make it worth sending to a refinery.

How To Calculate the Value of Gold-Filled Jewelry

Calculating the value of a gold-filled item is a bit more complicated than working out the value of a solid gold piece. The first thing you need to do is determine the gold karat (10k, 12k, or 14k). Then, you’ll need to know the ratio of gold to brass in the item. The most common ratios are 1/5, 1/10, and 1/20. Generally, these figures will be stamped somewhere on the jewelry piece. Note that any figure above 1/20 (of any karat) is called Rolled Gold Plate (RGP) or Heavy Gold Plate (HGP) and will be marked as such.

As an example, let’s say you have a gold-filled item marked 14k/20, this means that the item uses 14 karat gold but that only 1/20 (or 5%) of the item’s weight is comprised of 14k gold. Now, let’s assume that the item weighs 100 grams. To calculate the approximate value of the item, you can use the following formula:

  • Divide 1 by 20 to get a decimal answer:1/20 = 0.05
  • Multiply the weight of the item by 0.05:100g x 0.05 = 5g
  • Divide 14 by 24 (the number 24 refers to ’24k gold’ i.e., 14k gold contains 14 out of 24 parts pure gold) to get a decimal:14k = 14/24 = 0.58
  • Multiply the answer you got for the weight by 0.58:5g x 0.58 = 2.9g

Thus, this particular gold-filled item contains 2.9g of pure gold.

You can also use a gold-filled scrap value calculator to get an idea of how much gold the item contains. Of course, estimating the weight can become very difficult if the piece contains other components that aren’t gold-filled. Also, remember that since the gold content of these items is quite low, gold-filled jewelry is typically worth very little unless you have quite a large quantity of it.

Additional Notes

While it’s possible to calculate the value of gold-filled scrap according to known standards, this will only give you a theoretical answer. Why is this?

Well, because in reality, we have to consider that GF scrap is exactly that – scrap. In other words, the gold layer is subject to wear and tear and may even start to peel off in some cases. Surface wear can easily reduce the yield by 10 to 20 percent (and even more) than the theoretical calculation.

Additionally, sometimes pieces of gold-filled jewelry are soldered together. The solder contributes to the weight of the piece, which affects the ratio of gold to base metals.

Closing Thoughts

Selling your scrap GF jewelry can be very lucrative if you have a large quantity of it. However, working out how much you can get for it can be tricky compared to calculating the value of solid gold. You’ll need to consider several factors, such as the ratio of gold to the base metal, whether the pieces are showing wear, whether they’ve been soldered, and whether there are some components that aren’t gold-filled. However, it’s possible to get a rough estimate using the formula provided in this article or a GF scrap value calculator that you can find online.

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