Tradio: Gold Prospecting at Yard Sales, Garage Sale and other places
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A couple weeks ago, I was here and started talking to you about prospecting. Well, I’m back and let’s talk about prospecting again, and if you’re new to the show, and you’re going, “Prospecting? What is this guy talking about? That stuff we see on T.V. like the Bering Sea, and he’s going with a pickaxe?”
No, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about walking into a garage sale or an estate sale, a flea market, and looking around — scanning the whole area — and knowing where to run, to look to see what kind of items you may be able to plunder to turn into cash.
Well, a couple weeks ago I talked to you about silver. How you walked in and you found this whole pile of silver-colored stuff, and you found some sterling, and you found some other silver that had different kinds of hallmarks on those, and I know that I had at least reached three listeners out there that week.
Because later on in the day, I had two gentlemen and one lady come in who had listened to the show, and they stop around and they do the flea markets and the garage sales and things like that. And two of them came in on a Friday, and one of them came in on a Monday, and they had little piles of stuff.
They said, “Steve, you know, we listen to you on Tradio, and we heard about prospecting, and this is stuff that we picked up that we figured might be good. But, you know, after listening to you, we probably didn’t do as good as we had hoped, but could you look through this stuff?”
And some of them had some flatware, which is, when we talk about flatware, we’re talking about eating utensils and things like that, that were silver color, and they had these initials I.S. on them, and after listening to the show, one of the fellows says to me,
“You know, I probably shouldn’t have bothered with this because after I listened to you, you mentioned this company with the I.S. and that it was silver plated,” and I looked at it and I said, “Yeah, that’s true,” and I said, “What did you do to test these?”
And he said, “Well, I didn’t have any way to test it.” So I went through and showed him some different tests that you can do on it, and then I took acid and made a little notch in through the silver plating, and put acid on it and showed him how it turns green.
He thought that was pretty cool; he just liked the chemistry end of it, but you know, we talked about the silver. Now, let’s talk about gold because believe it or not, there’s lots of stuff out there that’s made out of gold that you may not realize, and you’re hoping that the people who are having these garage sales don’t realize it either. So we talked about the fact that you’re going to have a loupe, which is your magnifying glass that you can put in your pocket.
You’re going to take your magnet with you, so you can check to see if any of these things are magnetic, and you’re going to take your brain with you, which is the most important thing because that’s where your knowledge is stored, and what we’re going to do today is give you a little bit more knowledge.
So let’s say you walked into this garage sale, and there are people all over the place. They’re scrambling, and they’re looking at the glass, and they’re looking at clothes and things like that.
You’re going to head over to the place where they’ve got their jewelry. There might be some little jewelry pieces lying around somewhere, and it’s marked twenty-five cents, and fifty cents, ten cents, and your choice for a dollar.
Okay, what you’re going to do, first of all, you’re going to look around real quick, and you’re going to look for anything that looks like it could be gold. It’s going to be gold colored. You might want to start looking for chains right away because that’s one of the things you’ll find a lot of.
Now, how do you know if that chain is gold? Well, if you’re not sure, grab that whole handful of them before anybody else muscles in there and starts snatching them away from you.
Now that you got them in front of you, sort of spread them out, take your magnet out of your pocket very discretely and hold it over the top of those chains. Every chain that stuck to that magnet, toss it back in the pile. Let the rest of the piranhas dig through it and see if they think they can find gold.
The ones that didn’t stick to the magnet, put those back in your grubby little hand. Put it in that hot little hand and now take your loupe out if you’re an older person, because your arms start to get a little short and it’s tough to see the smaller marks that we’re going to go looking for.
So now, let’s say you have three or four chains that didn’t stick to your magnet. Now, we’re going to go looking to see how do we identify these –that they might be gold.
First of all, you want to go to the very end of the chain and right on the end of each chain, there’s a thing that we call a tab, and the tab is that little loop that the clasp will hook through to fasten it on your neck.
Well, when you look at that tab with your magnifier it might have some little letters on it, it might have some numbers on it. What we want to see, number one, it’s going to have the manufacture’s company on it. It might be two or three letters, and that tells you what company actually made that.
Now, look on the other side of the tab, and it might say Italy. Now that tells you that the company is out of Italy, and it’s been shipped over here to the U.S. Okay, now go to the other end of the chain and look at that other portion of it.
Flip it over and what does it say on it? It says, 14K, or it could say 10K, or it could say 18K, if you see that, that’s good because that means it’s probably gold.
Now, look on the other side of that tab, after you’ve seen those numbers. If it has a faction on it like 1/10, 1/12 or the letter like GF, which would be gold filled, that’s going to tell us that you didn’t strike it rich because that’s gold plated or gold filled.
It’s going to have some value to it, but not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for the gold. We’re going for the gusto, so if it doesn’t have these other little numbers on it, but it says 1K or the 10K, that’s going to tell you that it’s gold.
Keep it in your hand. Don’t put it down. Somebody is going to snatch it, especially if it’s a real free-for-all and people are going all over the joint. So now you’ve got a gold chain. Now suppose you flipped it over and it’s got a little tag that’s attached to the tab, and you look at it and it says 585.
Did you hit it rich or not? You don’t know. Well, remember when we look at silver and when we look at gold, the fineness or the purity is going to be measured in three numbers. On silver, we talked about being 925, that’s your sterling mark. It could be .800. It could be 80% silver.
Now on gold, if it’s 10 carat gold, you’ll see a number that says 417. What does that represent? Well, pure gold is 24K gold, and might take an alloy. They add that to mix it so that it’s not as expensive.
If it’s 9 carat gold, it’ll probably be 317, or then you’ll find 333 — these are European markings. This is for 9K and 10K gold or actually, 8, 9 carat gold. Now when you get to the U.S. and most of other Europe, we find that it’s going be in 10 carat gold.
So 10 carat gold is theoretically 41.7% pure, so you’ll see those numbers 417. That’s 10 carat gold. Keep it, that’s a good one. Now if you turn it over and you find that little tab on there and it says 585, what does this mean?
That means that it’s 14 carat gold. Why? Because, theoretically, 14 carat gold is 58.5% pure. Now suppose you look at it and it says 750? That’s 18 carat gold, and again, theoretically it’s 75% pure.
Now, why do I say “theoretically”? The reason being that any time you send gold into a refiner, you’re going to find it’s not very often that any time you will find whether it’s 10 or 14 or 18 carat or 22 carat gold, it’s not very often that, that’s the exact amount of gold that you’ll find in that particular item. Usually if it’s supposed to be 10 carat gold, which would be 41.7% pure, it’s usually around 38% or 39% pure.
Fourteen carat gold, it could be anywhere from 53% to 57% pure, and you say, “Well, why would they put these tabs on there if that not really what it is?”
You have to understand something that, that 2% or 3% difference, if you’re a manufacturer and you’re producing 100s of 1000s of pieces every month because you’re selling them to suppliers, if you can save yourself two or three percent on 100,000 items every month, that adds up to a lot of savings for you as a manufacturer on that end.
Does it hurt the consumer? You’re not really buying, you’re not really getting what you paid for… so I mean, but that’s sort of the way the jewelry industry is, unfortunately.
Now a lot of times you have a custom piece made, and then what we do, you know, we’re actually taking pure gold and alloying it down — we’re adding other elements to it: silver and copper, to give it that 58.5% purity or that 41.7% purity or that 75% purity.
So on a custom made piece, you’ve got a lot better chance of getting what you actually paying for than on a mass produced type of a thing. Now, we said, okay, you found some gold chains. Your magnet didn’t stick to it.
You looked on the tabs, and you found those numbers, but keep those in your hand. Don’t put them away. Make sure you don’t forget to pay for them, though, and now let’s look for some rings. Here is a whole tray full of rings. They got stones and things in them. They look like they might be gold.
You don’t have time to pick up every piece and look at it. You got to remember, there’s people in back of you that are trying to do the same thing when you’re prospecting. Take out your magnet, sort of line the rings up in a little line and hold your magnet over the top of each one of them.
Now, which one’s stuck to your magnet or was even attracted to your magnet? Any of them that came towards the magnet, leave them there. Don’t even mess with them. The ones that didn’t snatch them up, put them in your hand now. So now you picked up four or five rings. Let’s see if they’re gold.
So you turn around, you look on the inside of what we call the shank. The shank is the portion that goes around the backside of your finger. That’s where the markings are going to be. Take your loupe and look inside. Does it say 10K or 14K or 18K? Does it have any kind of a three-digit number in there?
If it does, it’s probably gold, but wait. There’s more. Suppose it says 14 carat HGP? HGP is the give-a-way: heavy, gold-plated. Or it might say, “E” — HGE: heavy, gold electro-plate. Or it could say 14K GF: gold filled, and gold filled is a process where they take a piece of non-precious metal, usually a type of a brass. They put two very thin layers of gold on the inside and the outside, and then it’s vacuformed or stamped together so that it has some gold to it — not much.
But if you can buy it pretty cheap, like for 50 cents or a dollar or something like that, when you get a bunch of the gold plate or gold filled stuff together, bring it in and you can sell it, but just one or two pieces alone are not going to have a whole lot of value to it, so we want to find that 10K or 14K or 18K marking.
You also may run across something that says 14KP, and don’t be that smart where you say, “Okay, I’m not getting fooled by this one. It’s 14 carat plated.” That “P” doesn’t stand for plated.
That 14KP stands for the fact that it’s what we call “plumb,” and plumb refers to the fact that the manufacturer guarantees that’s going to be 58.5% pure, where it’s going to be 41.7% pure, if it’s 10 carat. Or it’s going to be 75% pure if it’s 18 carat.
So generally, don’t be afraid if you see that K, the carat mark, and then a P after beneath of it, in back of it because that’s generally going to tell us that it’s plumb, and that it is pure.
Now a lot of countries have no problem marking stuff “gold” that’s not gold or really under-carating gold. I used to deal out of Thailand. We used to do some manufacturing out of there in jewelry, and a lot of the GI’s will bring stuff back from Nam from the 60s.
And there are what we call harem rings, and they’re stacked up and they’ve got all kinds of multiple gemstones in them, and they’re generally always marked 14K or 18K gold. Very few of those ever came out at the carat gold that they’re supposed to be.
These were made by jewelry makers — they were mass-produced. They were sold to little vendors and the vendors had great market: American GIs who didn’t know anything because they were going to bring back souvenirs of jewelry and things like this, so this stuff is drastically under-carated.
I see this stuff that’s marked 14K and 18K, and on a good day it might be 10K, so again, you got to be careful on these. But remember, we’re prospecting and anything that we can find that’s gold or silver is going to put money in your pocket if you can buy it cheap enough.
So when you see these harem rings, don’t be afraid of them, even though I’ve told you they’re under-carat. If you can buy them cheap enough, then take a shot. When I say, “take a shot,” it’s like I’ve told people before: if it’s not going to effect your lifestyle — they’re a couple of dollars, and you think the upside might be $15, $20, $30 — then give it a chance, but there’s lots of other stuff out there that’s going to be gold that you’re going to find out there when you’re prospecting.
We started a little late today, so what I’m probably going to do is, next week, I’m going to give you some more items to look at when you’re out there prospecting at the garage sales and things like this.
Now, remember, we’re prospected for gold, so get out there this week, look around, see what you can find. Take your magnet, take your loupe, go out there and whatever you find, bring it by Westchester Gold and Diamonds.
We’re in the Baers Plaza behind ABC Liquors. I’m always happy to look at those items for you, so come on in. I enjoy trying to teach you how to make money, and I enjoy seeing all the different people who actually listen and have learned how to make money.
With that, I’m going to say, goodbye to everybody until next week.
Have Questions about your antiques, estate jewelry, collectibles or old treasures?
If you have questions for Steve Duke to answer about your jewelry, antiques or collectibles, just send a photo of the item and your question directly to Steve Duke at WGDiamonds@HotMail.com and Steve will research it for you and you may be contacted to participate in an upcoming Tradio episode. Be sure to include your name, email and phone number along with your question and email it to: WGDiamonds@HotMail.com