We all have different hobbies, one interesting hobby that can sometimes turn into something profitable would be collecting various scrap metals that you come across. I’ve actually known a few people that have gathered up impressive amounts of items from garage sales, flea markets, auctions and even from junk that people have thrown out. It’s not that uncommon to find something very valuable in the midst of everything that careless people have thrown out, so if you’re a collector of scraps, it can be important for you to know how to detect at least the basic precious metals, not just so that you can find them in your wanderings, but also so that you can successfully resell, to make a decent profit.
Practically every one of the more popular precious metals like gold, platinum and silver has a similar counterpart in the base metal and alloyed metals category. For example, alloy of zinc and copper called brass is very similar to gold, stainless steel to silver and platinum, while we’re at it, even silver can be mistaken for platinum. A lot of mistakes can be made because people aren’t that informed on various properties that precious metals have, and how these properties can be used in order to detect the real thing among other items that might not have such a high value. When you’re selling and not knowing what you actually have it will cause you to lose money because you might ask too little, and on the opposite end, when you’re buying you might again lose money by paying too much for something that doesn’t have the value to justify high price when you decide to sell it. No matter what you’re doing, weather you’re selling or buying knowing the things that we are gonna talk about would be desirable, even if they are just the basics.
Thing that most people know or if they don’t should is that gold, platinum, silver do not tarnish, at least not under normal circumstances, this goes for silver particularly. Why silver you wonder, well silver is susceptible to tarnish but it needs hydrogen sulfide next to oxygen, whereas most other base metals do not need anything that’s not usually found in the air. This means that you can rule out as precious all metals that have any kind of tarnish or rusting on it’s surface.
Gold and platinum imitations can be easily detected by checking the size of the item. Since these two metals are very costly, most items that are produced are not very large in size, at least not the ones intended for consumption by the public, since very few people can afford it. If you see small statue, for example, made out of something that appears to be gold, it’s most likely made out of brass. Platinum can also be detected by it’s color, which has a very shiny silverish tone. Be do note that chances of finding accidentally discarded platinum are very small, because its not as popular as gold or silver for example.
Plating has the tendency to fool a lot of people into thinking that something is a precious metal. With plating even rusting isn’t necessarily present, so you cannot use that as an indicator, technically you could but only if the plating is very thin. If the plating is thicker, in other words if the item is gold filled (a thicker kind of plating), then chances for tarnishing of the base metal underneath the plating to come out to the surface are dropper significantly. It’s still possible for thin platings, which are only a few microns thick, in such a case you could even come across sections on the item where plating has been worn off and base metal can be seen. If you do not see any signs of wear and tear, then you should make some yourself. By that I’m of course taking about filing a small area in order to reach underneath and see what’s going on under the hood. Normally it would be said that doing something like this isn’t good, because you’d be destroying the item that you’re checking, but in situations like these, if you’re testing scrap metal then it shouldn’t really be that big of a deal. You wouldn’t need to go deep inside in order to detect plating, the same isn’t true for items that are filled. The thickness various from just a few microns, to a few millimeters, it doesn’t go further than let’s say 2 millimeters, take that as the depth until which you should file. I said that you won’t need to preserve anything when it comes to filing if you’re gunning for scrap metals, and that’s true, but there’s a remote possibility that you encounter something old, which might have collectors value and damage in such a case can be very costly. That’s why the best thing to do would be to file on a secluded place of the item, somewhere hidden where it won’t be visible to potential buyers.
When you actually find something, best places to look would be, like we already said, metal recycling centers, flea markets, garage sales and so on, after you acquire something you need to know how to sell it properly. Precious metals will have purity stamped on them which should help you in figuring out how much to ask. Their purity is measured from 0 to 24 karats, the higher the purity is you’ll be able to ask price which is closer to that of the spot price of the precious metal in question. Of course that overall condition of the item will also be important for it’s price, you shouldn’t ask too much if the item has poor appearance, because you might not find a buyer. If it does have low quality, dirty with scratches or something like that, you could freshen them up a bit for sale, to get a bigger price. You should resell to scrap metal companies if the condition of the item is in really bad shape, otherwise try at jewelers, where you’ll get a higher price.