There are two considerations when appraising an item made of gold. In most cases, the most important of these is the item's bullion value --- the value of the gold if it was melted down and recycled. This is established by considering the item's weight and purity. But an item of gold may have added value because it has been turned into a desirable piece of jewelry or some other form of collectible. There are ways to determine the potential value of your gold.
Examine the gold item carefully for a hallmark, using a jeweler's loupe. The hallmark is usually on the reverse side of jewelry, near the catch on chains and in the interior of trinket boxes. For example, look for purity markings such as 9 ct., 14 ct., 18 ct. or 377, 585 or 750. The higher the number, the more valuable the piece.
Check the weight of the item either on a set of fine digital scales or by simply gauging it in the palm of your hand. The heavier it is, the more valuable. Bear in mind that a gold chain can vary dramatically in weight depending on whether the links are hollow-cast or cast solidly.
Realize that collectible items such as coins, timepieces or jewelry may have value above the bullion worth. For example, a gold watch that is in good working order and that has an identifiable maker's name will be worth more because it will appeal to watch collectors. Similarly, versatile pieces of jewelry such as gold earrings are always at a premium.