How to recycle gold, silver, and jewelry for the most money

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If you have unwanted gold, silver, or jewelry lying around your house, you might be thinking about selling it to a recycler who will give you cash for your items — all while being kind to the environment. But how exactly does a gold or silver recycler work? Which precious metals recyclers are the best?

Gold and diamond mining are notoriously disastrous for the environment. So while making money on selling your jewelry or coin, you can also feel good about helping to preserve the Earth.

We answer these and other questions below so you can feel confident that you’re getting the most money possible for your recycled gold, silver, and jewelry:

Silver recyclers buying silver now

CashforSilverUSA: Best silver recycler

Our No. 1 recommendation when it comes to silver recyclers is CashforSilverUSA, thanks to its A+ Better Business Bureau rating, 24-hour payment, and long history of quality customer service. Plus, they take pretty much anything made of real gold or silver.

CashforSilverUSA will purchase silver in any form, whether that is silver coins, silver bars, silver ingots, silver jewelry, silver flatware, silver electronic scrap, or any other type of silver — as well as gold, diamond and jewelry through their sister sites CashforGoldUSA and Diamonds USA (formerly CashforDiamondsUSA).

It doesn’t matter if the silver is .999 fine silver, .925 sterling silver, coin silver, or any other purity—CashforSilverUSA will accept it and pay you a fair price for it. 

To sell your silver to CashforSilverUSA, all you need to do is:

  • Visit CashforSilverUSA.com and give your name and address
  • Within a few days, you will receive a prepaid FedEx shipping label that you will use to send your silver to them for appraisal. Your shipment comes with insurance automatically, so you can feel confident in sending your items.
  • Within 24 hours of receiving your silver, CashforSilverUSA will appraise it and contact you with an offer to purchase. 
  • If you accept their offer, you’ll receive payment via PayPal or check,. Depending on the option you choose, it’s possible to receive payment immediately after accepting their offer.
  • If you don’t accept their offer, they’ll return your silver, gold or gemstone at no cost to you. 

CashforSilverUSA offers a 10% bonus if you send your silver in for appraisal within 7 days of receiving your prepaid mailer. This means that CashforSilverUSA is regularly one of the top payers when it comes to silver recyclers.

Sell your silver to CashforSilverUSA now>>

Other silver recyclers 

Other silver buyers you can consider include:

  • APMEX
  • CashforSilverUSA (our top choice)
  • JM Bullion
  • Kitco
  • Liberty Gold and Silver
  • Luriya.com
  • MoneyMetals.com
  • SilverRecyclers.com
  • SpecialtyMetals.com

Gold recyclers buying gold now

CashforGoldUSA: Best gold recycler

CashforGoldUSA is our top choice when it comes to gold recyclers, for a simple reason: They’re the best.

CashforGoldUSA pays top dollar for your recycled gold, and they pay fast—within 24 hours of you accepting their offer, and have paid out more than $56 million over more than a decade. Plus, the BBB rates them A+.

Whether you have gold ingot, gold jewelry, gold coins, a raw gold nugget, gold dental crowns, or gold in any other form, CashforGoldUSA will accept it. They purchase regular gold, white gold, and rose gold in any karat: 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, 24k. 

To sell your gold to CashforGoldUSA:

Go to CashforGoldUSA.com and:

  • Fill out a form with your address
  • You’ll receive a prepaid and insured FedEx shipping label within a few days. Using that label, send in your gold for an appraisal.
  • CashforGoldUSA will appraise your gold within 24 hours of receiving your package and will make you an offer via text, phone or email — your choice.
  • If you choose to accept their offer, they’ll pay you via PayPal or check depending on your preferences. Read about how I got paid within 20 hours of sending in my gold chain — and got the highest price for my gold after shopping it around to pawn shops, jewelers near me, other online gold buyers and cash-for-gold outlets.

If you choose not to accept their offer, CashforGoldUSA will return your gold at absolutely no charge to you. 

If you send your gold to CashforGoldUSA within a week of receiving your prepaid mailer, they’ll pay you an extra 10% for your gold. Because of this, CashforGoldUSA has been found to pay some of the top rates for gold. In fact, a Fox Business News investigation found that CashforGoldUSA pays THREE TIMES MORE than some of their competitors:

Sell your gold using CashforGoldUSA now>>

Other gold recyclers 

Other gold recyclers that will happily buy your gold from you include:

  • Abe Mor
  • American Bullion
  • APMEX
  • CashforGoldUSA (our top choice)
  • Goldco Precious Metals
  • Gold Geek
  • JM Bullion
  • Kitco
  • Liberty Gold and Silver
  • Luriya
  • Money Metals Exchange
  • SellYourGold.com
  • US Gold Buyers
  • SpecialtyMetals.com

Pawn shops will also buy gold, silver and old fine jewelry.

Metal recycling “near me”

There may be quality gold recyclers and silver recyclers in your community. Check their BBB, Yelp and Google reviews before you sell your metals — and ask around for recommendations:

google-maps-usa-image

Here is what you need to know about recycling your gold or silver for the highest price, quickly:

Recycling silver

Chances are pretty good that you’ve got some unused or unwanted silver lying around your house. It might be in an obvious form, such as silver coins, silver flatware, or old or broken silver jewelry. But it could also be in some surprising forms, too. Silver can be found in old electronics, soldering, trinkets, statues, ingot, and even raw form. 

If you’ve got silver that you don’t want, need, or use, recycling your silver can be an excellent way of making some money that you can use to reach your other goals. A silver flatware set, for example, could be worth more than $1,000—money that you can use to pay down your debt, start investing, or just buy something that you will actually use.

Silver recycling is on the rise

Global trade organizations report that the use of recycled silver has gradually been rising, as the population overall is more concerned with the environmental impact of the products they produce, and metals recycling has become more efficient. Further, the high price of silver and gold in recent years has inspired many to cash in their old jewelry, coins and scrap — which buyers then melt for recycling. 

In 2020, jewelry giant Pandora announced that by 2025, 100% of the gold and silver used in its jewelry will be recycled. Today, about 60% the silver the Danish jeweler uses is recycled. 

How silver recyclers recycle silver

Silver recyclers might seem like complicated businesses, but they’re actually pretty straightforward. Most work like this:

The silver recycler purchases silver items or scrap from a seller, whether that is another business or an individual (like you). They will usually pay the seller slightly less than the current spot price of silver, which allows them to make a profit when they resell the metal later. 

Once the recycler has enough silver, they will collect it together and melt down the miscellaneous items. What happens next depends on what sort of business the recycler is in.

Some silver recyclers sell their silver to other businesses who need silver for their products. In these cases, the recycler will pour the molten silver into a mold (such as a bar mold, or an ingot mold) and let it cool. They will then sell this silver according to its current spot price to another business. This usually yields a relatively small profit margin for the recycler. 

Other silver recyclers are in the business of using their reclaimed silver for their own products. In those cases, they may pour the melted silver directly into the required mold, or they may store it in bar form until it is needed. 

As a note: Silver is often mixed with other metals, such as copper, to form an alloy. A recycler may decide to separate the silver out from the other metals so that in the end they will have pure silver, or they may simply keep the alloy as-is, depending on their needs.

Other ways to recycle silver

Aside from melting silver down to recast it, the most common alternative for recycling silver is to reuse the component pieces as-is. 

For example, a silver ring can be resized, or converted into a ring blank to be used in a future design. Likewise, a silver chain can be transformed into a new necklace or bracelet. Silver trinkets or statues can be refurbished or incorporated into multi-media art projects. Silver electronic components can be moved to a new product.

Silver can also be used to create pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals. In these cases, it will be mixed with other compounds. 

Recycling gold

For as long as humans have owned gold, they’ve been melting it down and recycling it into new shapes whenever they’ve grown tired of the old shapes. This trend is on the rise. 

According to the World Gold Council, recycled gold accounted for 28% of the global gold supply in 2020 — 90% of that recycled gold comes from jewelry. 

Gold coins become gold jewelry, like gold chains, necklaces or rings. Gold bracelets become electronic components. Gold electronic components become gold dental caps. Gold dental caps become gold coins. The cycle will continue for as long as we value gold.

And if you have gold coins, gold jewelry, or gold in any other form that you’re looking to sell, that’s good news—because it means you’ll always have a market to sell and recycle your gold.

Aside from jewelry, and as an investment, gold's durability and heat-conducting properties make it valuable for many other uses. These include:

  • Industry and technology, including wiring and data storage, as well as a reflector on glass.
  • Space technology, as NASA uses gold on astronauts' visors, as well as in the wiring of space equipment.
  • Medicine, as gold's healing and diagnostic properties are applied to treat cancers and rheumatoid arthritis.

How gold recyclers recycle gold

Gold recyclers purchase gold from sellers. This can include gold coins, gold jewelry, gold scrap, gold nuggets, gold ingot, gold statues, gold dental crowns, gold electrical components, and countless other forms of the metal. Usually, whatever gold recyclers pay the sellers will be a bit less than the current spot price of gold.

The recycler will typically separate the gold out by its karat weight, as this will make it easier to repurpose the gold later in the process.

Once the recycler has enough gold, they will melt it down and cast it—either into a form that they need for their own business, or into a form such as a bar or ingot that they will then resell to their customers. 

In this way, a collection of 14k gold items may become a bar of 14k gold, while a different collection of 24k gold items will become a bar of 24k gold, etc. 

If the recycler needs to, they may put less pure forms of gold through a process to separate the pure gold away from other metals. 

Other ways to recycle gold

Sometimes, gold can be repurposed into new items without needing to go through a recycling process. 

For example, imagine that you have a gold ring which is a family heirloom. You may not like the style of the ring, but also don’t feel right about selling it. In a case like that, you might work with a jewelry designer to turn the ring into something else that you actually do like: Such as a new ring, or a different type of jewelry altogether. 

Likewise, gold ingots, statues, and trinkets can be repurposed in a variety of ways to give them new life without necessarily needing to melt them down. 

Is recycled gold real gold?

Yes, recycled gold is truly real gold. Gold is an element (remember the periodic table of elements from high school chemistry?) and when broken down to its essential molecular structure, can be used again as pure gold, or combined with other metal alloys to make stronger 10k, 14k, 18k and 24k gold items. 

Humans have been successfully recycling gold for as long as the metal has been used —since the Egyptians used gold more than 13,000 years ago.

Is recycled gold bad?

Because recycled gold cuts down on carbon emission, recycled gold is good for the environment. Some critics argue that the smelting process for recycled metals still creates environmental waste, and any reduction in gold mining hurts the small mining communities that rely on that industry.

Recycling jewelry

Can jewelry with diamonds and gemstones be recycled?

Yes, absolutely!

All you need to know to recycle your old jewelry is what it is made out of. If it contains a precious metal like gold, silver, or platinum, or a precious gem like diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls, you can sell it to a recycler who will break it down into its component pieces and reuse it.

Read our Diamonds USA review here>>

Sell your diamonds using Diamonds USA now>>

What else can I do with cheap, unwanted jewelry? 

If your unwanted jewelry doesn’t contain any precious metals or gems, but you still want to get rid of it, that doesn’t mean it needs to be destined for the trashcan. 

Consider selling it to a consignment shop, or through an online platform like Poshmark, Mercari, or ThredUp. You may not get a ton of money, but anything is better than nothing, and it’s certainly better than adding to the landfill. 

How do you dispose of old jewelry?

Are you talking about costume jewelry? If your costume jewelry is a notable brand, or otherwise remarkable in some way, you may consider selling on consignment or at a pawnshop. Ebay, Poshmark or Thredup are worth a look to what your item can fetch for sale.

If your jewelry is not worth much, then give it to a local charity thrift store as a tax writeoff. 

However, all gold and silver jewelry can be sold for at least a small profit. CashforGoldUSA and CashforSilverUSA accept all weights and quality of precious metals.

Should I throw out old jewelry?

If your costume jewelry is really crappy, at least recycle the plastic! Otherwise, there is a very good chance you can recycle the gold or silver for profit, sell your higher quality costume jewelry online, or donate your jewelry for a tax break — and know someone else is enjoying it. 

Can jewelry be recycled?

Yes. All you need to know to recycle your jewelry is what it is made out of.

Is recycled gold real gold?

Yes, recycled gold is truly real gold. Gold is an element (remember the periodic table of elements from high school chemistry?) and when broken down to its essential molecular structure, can be used again as pure gold, or combined with other metal alloys to make stronger 10k, 14k, 18k and 24k gold items.

Is recycled gold bad?

Because recycled gold cuts down on carbon emission, recycled gold is good for the environment.

Can jewelry with diamonds and gemstones be recycled?

Yes, absolutely! All you need to know to recycle your old jewelry is what it is made out of.

What else can I do with cheap, unwanted jewelry? 

Consider selling it to a consignment shop, or through an online platform like Poshmark, Mercari, or ThredUp. You may not get a ton of money, but anything is better than nothing, and it’s certainly better than adding to the landfill. 

How do you dispose of old jewelry?

Are you talking about costume jewelry? If your costume jewelry is a notable brand, or otherwise remarkable in some way, you may consider selling on consignment or at a pawnshop. All gold and silver jewelry can be sold for at least a small profit.

Should I throw out old jewelry?

If your costume jewelry is really crappy, at least recycle the plastic! Otherwise, there is a very good chance you can recycle the gold or silver for profit.

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

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