Selling Your Gold To Refiners, Collectors and Tourists

Large 7.5 ounce California gold nugget


Interested in obtaining the best prices for your gold and silver? This article takes a look at all the things you need to know. We work hard to capture the gold we find, and we want to get the best prices for our gold because all the recent price increases it's quite valuable. There are a lot of different options for selling gold or silver, and in the article below I'll take a look at all of the best known possibilities for selling placer gold and other bullion related materials. Take a look at the following handy information....... 8 ounces of large Alaska gold nuggets
Everyone knows that gold is a valuable commodity.  Even small amounts can bring some good money.  But that is just the question: Just how do you get the best money when it comes time to sell your gold?  That is what we are going to discuss here.  Almost half the battle in getting the best price for gold is not being in a rush when it comes time to sell. A lot of guys save up their gold, but then a crisis hits and they are forced to sell at whatever price they can get.  Unfortunately, the emergency "have to sell right now" price is not normally as good as the price you will get if you can be choosy and wait till the right buyer comes along. So I'd say that one of the most important things about getting the best price for your gold is good planning.  Make sure you have enough money in the bank to cover all those little emergencies and unexpected things that come along.  If you don't have that kind of money in the bank, you ought to sell some gold until you reach that point.

Many miners strongly prefer to keep their gold as a stash of of money.  However as I've noted, unlike a bank, you can't just go out and make an instant withdrawal as you can from your account at the local Savings and Loan.  In addition to being a stash of money, the gold you keep becomes a trophy of the hunt, filled with great memories of good or difficult times and the efforts involved in finding and collecting the gold. I know that for me, the gold I save is filled with great memories of all my experiences out in the field - the desert, the pines, the mountains.  For me, I never want to sell it.  It would have to be a very, very dire emergency for me to go out and sell my gold - especially the nicer pieces.

There are a lot of different forms of natural gold and some of course bring better prices than others. Beautiful crystalline and leaf gold specimens as well as large nuggets will bring premium prices, so it's important to understand and know what kind of gold you have. Lets identify a few different classes of gold for the purposes of selling:

1.  Small flakes and dust.

2. Small nuggets at least two grains in size.

3. Medium sized nuggets, one pennyweight to 1 ounce

4. Large nuggets greater than an ounce in size.

5. Good-sized gold Quartz specimens.

6. Crystalline gold specimens

Each of these categories has its own special markets that it is best suited for.  Awill big part of getting the best price for your gold is knowing what markets are available for what you have and what appropriate prices are. Part of the problem for me writing this article is that I know the price of gold will change, and so if I recommend a certain price for your gold, and the price changes, it will make what I recommend simply wrong.  So for purposes of reference in this article, the price of gold as I am writing is about $650 per ounce. You can re-figure things based on the difference between that and the price of gold when you are reading this article.

There is a significant collector market for nice gold nuggets. In order to be selling your gold to collectors, you need to have something special  and collectible, not just gold dust and tiny flakes. This usually means at least medium sized nuggets, or some special crystalline gold specimens. Tourists and of the casual buyers may sometimes be interested in smaller nuggets, but we'll consider that possibility a little further on in this article. You may even try mineral specimen shops - they sometimes may make you an offer, especially if your gold is crystalline or has other desirable properties for mineral collectors. Finding and reaching collectors in a timely manner as always in been the problem of getting a premium price when selling gold or other mineral specimens. The Internet of course, is the great equalizer and there are several prospectors who are regularly marketing their gold through Internet websites where they can get full retail prices.  Creating and maintaining a website is a whole additional proposition, but if it is your cup of tea, then it is a great opportunity to reach and market your gold to people who are interested in buying your gold at a reasonable price. nuggets of a pennyweight and more up to about half an ounce, should command a price at least 35% greater than the gold weight. Nuggets of a half ounce or better should command a 50 to 80% premium.  Nuggets greater than an ounce command a larger premium, but is variable depending on how spectacular the piece is, but the premium is often in the range of 100% (double the gold price) and up. These prices are figured for average pieces which are not crystalline nor reflect any special shapes or other notable characteristics. Also remember that for American buyers, American gold pieces are rare and therefore command a premium price.
Jewelers will use smaller to medium sized nuggets in making natural nugget jewelry.  In some cases they will also use gold Quartz material that has been cut up and polished into gemstones. In order to market to jewelers, you will need these types of materials.  Not all will be very interested in what you have, and may only make a low grade offer to buy your gold cheaply. try to look for jewelers who offer or even specialize in natural nugget jewelry - these are the ones who are most likely to know the value of your gold and offer you a fair price if they are looking for that type of gold.

Some of the most valuable gold around is found in crystalline gold specimens. some have little trigons like the bear shaped nugget at right, but leaf and even wire forms are well known. These pieces can easily sell for five times the value of the gold contained in the nugget.  Be sure that if you have crystalline gold such as the little crystalline bear pictured to the right, do you do not let such a beautiful items go cheaply out of your hands.  They are rare finds in most gold districts, and therefore should command a premium price for their sale. Of course the value is always in the eye of the beholder, That it may take some time to market these high dollar pieces, but it is worth it.

There are also gold containing specimen nuggets and attractive quartz specimens.  Quartz pieces containing a high percentage of gold are sometimes sold simply as nuggets. Quartz pieces containing only a very small percentage of gold are perhaps best crushed in the gold extracted.  I have prepared a separate Webpage on that procedure, and you can access it at this location:

Quartz with a medium amount of gold can be cut up to produce slabs to be made into gemstones for use in gold-quartz jewelry. The goal should be to produce material that as roughly 20 to 40 percent of the surface covered with gold. This of course requires a thin kerfed diamond bladed saw set up for cutting hard materials like Quartz. Such equipment is commonly available at rock hound shops, as they also cut gemstones as well.

Finally, Quartz with significant gold content that is crystalline or leaf shaped within the Quartz matrix can be etched were treated to produce beautiful gold Quartz specimens. There is an entire art to treating gold quartz with hydro-fluoric acid to produce these spectacular pieces. Hydrofluoric acid is a dangerous material that is capable of dissolving glass and Quartz.  It will also destroy your bones and the tissues of your body. Serious precautions are necessary to use it safely. Pieces of gold Quartz are usually sawn with diamond blades of the type mentioned above to produce a piece of the proper size and shape that the artist wishes to develop into an attractive gold Quartz specimen. Hydrofluoric acid treatment together with chipping in further sawing are used until the piece presents the proper level of beauty.  In many ways this art is a trial and error process, and not every piece works out perfectly as planned. For those who would like to delve more deeply into this subject, I have to state that it is beyond the scope of this paper and further research would be required.

Getting premium prices for gold dust and small flakes takes a little more work. In historic gold mining areas where there is significant tourist traffic, you can usually do well selling small nuggets and flakes to tourists. Your placer gold is weighed into small lots and put into vials filled with water. With this type of setup, you should charge at least double the spot price of your placer. The difficulty here is in finding a spot where you can easily sell to tourists. If you have to sit all day and wait for people to walk by, you're not really getting much back for the time you're investing by sitting there and selling.

Another possibility is to sell "unprocessed" gravel on ebay or other locations, and allow people to pan out their own real gold. Some operators like Felix Paydirt of Alaska have created an entire business out of this concept. To do this you would take a spot where you know there is some gold present in mine the gravel. Screen to remove the larger rocks and pebbles - anything larger than a bean. Then weigh out a fixed certain amount of the gravel, say about 1 pound.  Add an amount of gold flakes and dust, perhaps four dollars worth if you are going to be selling the finished bag for $10.  The bag of gold bearing gravel plus the small amount of fine gold and flakes is sold as being unprocessed gravel, guaranteed to contain gold.  In this way, because you used gravel that you knew was gold bearing there probably will be a bit more gold than you put in and exactly how much will be determined by the buyer who purchases your bag of gold bearing gravel. This type of product is very popular on eBay. However, it is also another possibility where a website might be helpful in reaching the market that you are trying to sell to. Felix Paydirt actually advertises in magazines, and sells their product through the mail.

Last but certainly not least is the possibility of sending your gold off to a refiner.  A refiner will not pay you anything extra for beautiful specimens or nuggets, they will simply pay you for the inherent scrap value of your gold metal. As a result the best things to send them our find flakes and dust as well as scrap or amalgam sponge. Refiners will not accept amalgam that has not had the mercury removed. The refiner is in business to make money for his company, he is not in business to help you.  Most refiners are honest enough and will provide you the opportunity for your material to be tested by umpire assay if there is any dispute. Most miners who have experienced frustration in their dealings with refiners are disappointed by the results because they did not have a good handle on the purity of the gold they were selling. While many placer miners will claim that their nuggets are 90 or 95% pure, that is normally a highly unusual case. Overall impurities of 75% to 85% are far more common. if your gold has any significant quartz or iron oxides within it, the percentages may be even lower. It is not uncommon that small miners feel cheated or at least heavily confused by the results of the refiners assay.

There are some good things about using refiner but there are also some serious disadvantages as well. With the refiner you know that you will get paid a fixed schedule. However once you ship the gold, your material is basically out of your hands.  You must trust that the refiner will deal with you honestly and process your material, giving you your full due. When you are dealing with a Refiner, be sure to learn all the rules and requirements for shipping and policies that the refiner enforces. Package ship your materials according to their policies. It is worthwhile to check out the refiners website or ask around to people you know about their experiences with that refiner.

When your material begins the refining process, it will first be logged in to their records and then melted down into a single bar or button. An assay will be taken of that material and you will be notified of the weight of your material and the result of the refiners assay.  With most refiners you have a certain period of time in which to respond and/or possibly dispute the result of their assay. If you dispute it, a second assay will be taken and run by a different laboratory and the results of the two checked against each other.  Refiners have different rules for how any discrepancies between the two assays are dealt with. once you agree with their weight and assay results, a refiner will pay you based on his schedules.  Fees are charged for the assay and refining processes and these are deducted from any payment you are to receive. fast payment for your gold usually also incurs additional fees, so if you can wait a little bit and be patient, you may make a little more money on your gold.
While you are accumulating your gold, it is important to carefully and safely store the gold you find until you sell it. It is not safe to have several pounds of gold - many thousands of dollars - sitting around your house in a box or a jar. Many prospectors and miners have had their gold stolen because they failed to keep their gold in a safe location. Gold is valuable, and it attracts thieves. If you have more than an ounce or two of gold around the house, you really should purchase a safety deposit box in the vault of your local bank and make arrangements to keep your gold in the safety of their secure vault.

Want to know a little bit more about this crazy prospector guy? Well, here's a little bit more about me, and how I got into prospecting: Chris' Prospecting Story   Interested in seeing more natural gold? Here are some interesting photos of beautiful  Gold Nuggets

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