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Frequently Asked Questions

Jump to FAQ Section >> Measurements, Gold Jewelry, Silver Jewelry, Gold Coins, Silver Coins


Measurements FAQ's:

Q. What is the difference between an Ounce and a Troy Ounce?

A Troy ounce is the unit of measure used for precious metals, coins, and bullion.

1 Troy Ounce equals 31.1 grams and a regular ounce equals 28.8 grams.

Most if not all household and postal scales measure in regular ounces, not Troy Ounces.

Q. What is the difference between a Pennyweight and a Gram?

A Pennyweight is 1/20th of a Troy Ounce. A gram is 1/31.1 of a Troy Ounce.

In Precious Metals, the gram is the most common form of measurement.

Some national jewelry chains advertise their scrap gold buy prices measured in pennyweights as opposed to grams. This leads to the perception that they are paying more than gold buyers advertising in grams.
A gram is a standard unit of measure in the jewelry and precious metals business. Pennyweights are often used to add perceived purchasing value to a measured weight.

To convert a price advertised in pennyweights to grams, use the following formula;

(Price per pennyweight * 20) / 31.1 = Price per gram

Thus an offer to buy scrap 14K gold for $20.97 per pennyweight is only $13.48 per gram!
So it's a very good idea to figure out how much a Pennyweight really is beforer you decide.

Gold Jewelry FAQ's:

Q. What do odd descriptions on jewelry such as Gold Clad, Gold Plating, HGE etc. mean?

In General odd verbiage describing what it's made of is BAD!

"HGE" stands for Heavy Gold Electroplate (method of plating), "Clad" anything (plated), and more...

Often times on TV and through bulk mail order literature; people are fooled into thinking they are getting something more than what precious metal bullion or jewelry is really worth. Gold and Silver are at all time historic prices.

Gold is extremely malleable and as such can be covered over other non-precious metals to very thin and varying
thickness. Some merchants and retailers will use these gimmicks to make claims of offering very low prices for coins and jewelry that are remarkably low priced!

Often these gimmicky offerings are made for a limited time or in small quantities only.

This sometimes fools people into believing they are getting a solid gold or other precious metal product for much less through a special offer, when actually they aren't.

Rule of thumb is you really do get what you pay for and often times through these retail gimmicks, much less!!!

Q. Why is gold jewerly typically not made out of pure 24k Gold?

Gold is extremely soft and in it's purest form doesn't work well as Jewelry.

Most jewelry uses between 10k to 14k which means it has other metals mixed in with it to make it more wear resistant! Similar to Gold Coinage. Plus the Jewelers themselves aren't required to use as much pure Gold in the finished jewelry!

Q. How much actual Gold exists in most Gold jewelry?

Actual amounts can vary somewhat; below are general percentages of purity as they relate to gold jewelry.

10k jewelry comprises 41% gold or 10/24.
14k jewelry comprises 58% gold or 14/24.
18k jewelry comprises 75%gold or 18/24.
22k jewelry comprises 91% gold or 22/24.
24k is 99.9% Gold or 24/24.

Q. What is "Gold Recovery"?

Gold recovery is a relatively new process in which old parts from computers and other hardware are being sold and scraped in extremely large quantities.

This extensive process is used to extract the small amounts of gold from used parts that were partly manufactured using gold or other precious metals.

This is being done because of the historically high price of gold versus the amount of Gold and it's cost when manufactured in the past. Gold is used in manufacturing for it's inherent metallurgic properties such as conduction.

Gold recovery typically requires a very large source of hardware parts etc. to recover the gold from and an expensive lab suitable for the extracting process. Erie Gold and Silver can buy scrap precious metal but not in the form of used parts.

Silver jewelry and Silverware FAQ's:

Q. Is Sterling Silverware or Silver jewelry actually made of pure Silver?

Sterling Silver is an alloy of silver and Copper or other stronger metal mixed in and contains 92.5% percent pure silver.

Sterling Silverware and or jewelry is clearly marked or labled as "Sterling" or "925".

If it says Silverplate or Silverware or something similar but different, it's probably not Sterling Silver and Unfortunately contains so little actual Silver content, it's not worth having it refined or Assayed.

Q. What are items marked as "German Silver" actually made of?

German Silver as it's labled is nickel alloy designed in the 1800's to mimic the look of Silver.

German Silver does not contain any actual Silver.

Q. Do Sterling Silver or pure Silver tarnish over time?

Yes, Sterling Silver like pure Silver does tarnish.

However, Stainless Steel and other metals were created to be used as eating utensils as they do not tarnish.

Visually if your silverware or jewelry is not tarnished, there is a good chance it is not made of Sterling Silver.

Gold Bullion and Coins FAQ's:

Q. Whats the difference between Gold Bullion and Gold Coins ment to be used for currency?

Gold Coins were minted to be circulated as coinage where as Gold Bullion is ment to simply be a store of Pure Gold.

Gold Coins typically we're minted to be used as currency in coined form. Because Gold is so soft in it's purest form
It needs to have copper and silver and other metals in small amounts mixed into it in small amounts so that it would be
durable as a coin that would change hands on a day to day basis.

Gold Bullion is ment simply as a store of pure gold and is typically stored in basic fractional amounts of a Troy Ounce.
Bullion is typically traded in 1 Oz, 1/2 Oz, 1/4 Oz, 1/10 Oz, and smaller fractional amounts. However like the US Gold Eagles
They can contain additional amounts of Silver or other metals in addition to the amount of Gold they are ment to be.

e.g. 1 Oz. US $50 Gold Eagle comprises 1.0 full Troy Ounce of Pure Gold + Copper and Silver and actually weighs 33.931 grams

Silver Bullion and Coins FAQ's:

Q. What is Silver Bullion?

Silver Bullion is minted to simply be a store of pure silver and never ment to be coinage used for circulation.

Silver Bullion is ment simply as a store of pure silver and is typically stored in basic fractional amounts of a Troy Ounce.
Silver Bullion is typically traded in 1 Oz or 1/2 Oz and smaller fractional amounts as "Rounds" or in
Silver Bar form in 1 Oz. 5 Oz. 10 Oz. and upwards. However unlike Gold Bullion, Silver Bullion is usually does not have
other metals added to it in addition to the amount of Silver they are ment to represent.

e.g. a 1 Oz. US Silver Eagle contains 1.0 Troy Ounce of Pure Silver + No Additional metals added. It weighs exactly = 1.0 Troy Ounce

Q. What are Silver Coins?

Silver Coins were minted to be circulated as coinage where as Silver Bullion is ment to simply be a store of Silver.

Silver Coins we're minted to be used as money. Because Silver is somewhat soft and tarnishes in it's purest form
It needs to have another base metal such as copper or nickel mixed in small amounts so that it would be
durable as a coin that would be handled as coinage on a day to day basis by citizens.

Both US and Foreign governments have historically minted Silver coins which gave our money intrinsic value!
US Dimes, Quarters, Half Dollars, and Dollars were minted up until 1964 out of 90% Silver. Copper and nickel were added
to give our US coinage durability and make up 10% of the remaining weight of the coin. In 1965 till 1970 some Kennedy half dollars were
minted with 40% silver. After this time, all modern US coins contain no silver at all.

Q. Which US Coins are made of 90% Silver and which are 40% Silver etc.?

Dimes, Quarters, Half Dollars, and Silver Dollars minted on or before 1964 contain 90% Silver.
Half Dollars that we're minted from 1965-1970 contain only 40% percent Silver.

Modern US minted coins do not contain any silver or other precious metal.
Under the coinage act of 1965, the composition of dimes, quarters, and half dollars were changed to eliminate or reduce the silver content.

5¢ nickels minted during WWII from 1942-1945 contain 35% Silver.
1 Dollar Eisenhower or "Ike Dollar" coins minted for circulation between 1971-1978 do not contain any Silver.

The modern US $1 presidential and "Susan B. Anthony" coins are not made of any precious metals.
There is a link to an article on US Modern coins not being accepted by people under our August News Section


If you have something we haven't covered that your curious about or would like to see under our FAQ,
send us an email or call us at (303) 828-9999
We may add it to our website!