How to recycle gold, silver, and jewelry

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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 metals precious 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.

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 CashforDiamondUSA.

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 their website and will out a form
  • 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, check, or bank wire. Depending on the option you choose, it’s possible to receive payment within 24 hours of accepting their offer.
  • If you don’t accept their offer, they’ll return your silver, gold or gemstone 100% of charge. 

Best of all, 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

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 $55 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, visit their website 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, you’ll 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 for your gold.
  • If you choose to accept their offer, they’ll pay you via PayPal, bank wire, or check depending on your preferences. It’s possible to be paid in as little as 24 hours after accepting their offer.

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.

Read our CashforGoldUSA review here>>

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

Pawnshops will also buy gold, silver and old fine jewelry.

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.

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

Gold has been viewed for hundreds of years as one of the most valuable metals known to civilization, if not THE most valuable metal. It should be little surprise, then, that 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. 

Gold coins become gold jewelry, like 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.

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. 

Recycling jewelry

Can jewelry 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.

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. 

Can jewelry be recycled?

Yes. All you need to know to recycle your 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. 

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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