Gold prices have continued to climb in 2010, and Grandma’s old jewelry is looking more like dollars than baubles. Antique gold jewelry is yellow gold, but after 1920, white gold jewelry appeared on the fashion scene. Red gold and green gold are available, too, but are accent colors, not the background alloy. Pure gold is 24 karat and too soft for jewelry, so other metals are added to make the gold more durable. You can weigh and value any color of gold with some knowledge.
Check inside white gold jewelry for marks that identify the maker and the karat. Quality jewelry often has a logo from the maker and a karat mark. Since 24K is pure gold, 18K is 75 percent gold and 25 percent alloy. Gold marked 14K is 58.5 percent gold and 10K is 41.7 percent gold. The alloy or metals added make the difference in yellow gold and white gold. Yellow gold has copper and silver added to make it durable. White gold has silver and sometimes palladium or nickel and zinc, but early white gold may have platinum, making the metal content more valuable. Platinum exceeds gold in value, where silver, palladium, nickel and zinc are relatively inexpensive.
Use a gram scale to weigh gold, or have it weighed by someone with a gram scale. Your local pawn shop may weigh a single item for you. Gold prices reflect an ounce price, but the scale shows grams, and it takes 31.1 grams to make an ounce.
Calculate scrap value with a gold calculator by checking the daily price of gold on a website like Kitco and using that value for the ounce price. Place the number of grams and the karat weight in the calculator and read the scrap gold value.
Consider the value of white gold jewelry as jewelry, not as scrap gold. Although the price of scrap gold is sometimes tempting, a logo inside a piece of gold jewelry may make it more valuable if you can determine the maker. Take it to a jeweler who is a certified appraiser or a member of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and ask before you act.
Value any gemstones that may be included in the piece. Stones set in gold are often real diamonds, rubies and emeralds and should be valued separately.