Reusing Old Gold to Make New Jewelry

Kate Miller-Wilson
old gold jewelry and crucible

If you have some outdated or old jewelry lying around, it makes sense to consider how you can use the gold to create a new, much more wearable design. However, it's difficult to find a jeweler who will do this. Researching your options helps you select the one that will work best for you.

Re-Casting Gold Jewelry

In some cases, your old gold jewelry can be completely melted down to make something new. This may sound ideal if you have a piece with sentimental value that does not fit with your personal style or is damaged, such as the following:

  • Your grandmother's gold engagement ring that is way too large and flashy for your taste
  • Your own wedding band that you want made into a new, more modern design
  • The broken earrings your great aunt wore at a special moment in her life
  • The dilapidated gold chain that has been in your family for generations

In general, re-casting doesn't present much of a cost savings over buying a new piece of jewelry. That's because the process is problematic if the piece is less than 24k gold. Other karats of gold, such as 14k or 18k, are not 100% gold; the gold is mixed with other metals. Each of those metals have a different melting point and behave differently, which makes for unpredictable results. What's more, a jeweler can't determine the exact metal content without sending the item out for expensive testing.

Where to Have It Done

Melting down gold jewelry

Finding a jeweler who will re-cast your pieces into a new design is a challenge. Most are hesitant to take this on since the results of melting gold are unpredictable. This will definitely be custom work, and it doesn't hurt to call custom jewelers in your area. There are also a few jewelers online who will try:

  • Walker Metalsmiths - This company specializes in lovely Celtic jewelry, and they will melt down old gold to create a new piece. They have experience with the process and claim their casting methods allow them to offer this service. It takes about three weeks to re-cast the gold, and they will give you a credit toward your item based on the current scrap gold buying price.
  • Calla Gold Jewelry - In general, this company prefers not to re-cast old jewelry; however, they will make an exception if you want to use gold from a piece that has sentimental value. They have not had good luck with re-casting in general, but they will work with a refiner to retrieve the gold from your piece and then use the material in a new design. They don't list prices, but they do note that this represents a substantial additional cost.
  • Foxfire Jewelers - This custom jewelry company has its own refiner and will recycle your gold jewelry to give you a credit for a new piece. They don't absolutely state that the gold from your old jewelry will be in your new item, but they do note that doing this reduces the price of your new design.

The amount it costs will depend on the piece that's being re-cast plus the cost of the new piece, so you'll need to discuss this with the jeweler prior to making your decision.

Things to Consider

Before selecting a jeweler to re-cast your gold, consider the following:

scrollwork antique gold ring
  • Ask yourself why you want to have your old gold made into a new piece. If it's to save money on a new design, you are generally better off turning in your jewelry for a credit on a new piece. If it's for sentimental reasons, it may make sense to invest in a jeweler who can perform this service.
  • Talk to the jeweler about the process they use. Ask if they will be using your actual gold in the new piece or if they are just giving your a credit. Confirm they offer a guarantee on the results if they are not refining the gold since you could end up with a piece you don't love.
  • If the jeweler will refine the gold, ask about prices. Generally, this service will cost more, but how much more may vary with the karat of the gold you're giving them.
  • If you have 24k gold, call local jewelry artists who specialize in casting. This is pure gold, and it's far easier to recast than alloys. Many metalsmiths have experience working with this.
  • You may find that using the gold from your old jewelry is cost prohibitive or not worth the hassle. Keep in mind, there are other ways to reuse your jewelry. You can have the stones reset in a new piece, or you can have a custom piece made that incorporates the older item.

Not for Everyone

Depending on your specific situation, reusing your old gold jewelry might make sense. However, this process can be expensive and isn't for everyone. Consider your reasons for choosing to do this and whether it's worth the risk and cost.

Reusing Old Gold to Make New Jewelry