A Guide to Gold Recycling: Sources, Methods, and Benefits

You might think that all new gold products use newly mined precious metals, but the gold industry also uses gold recycling to reintroduce old resources back into the market. Organizations and individual consumers pass their unwanted jewelry, electronics, and other items to a refinery, which separates precious metals from other materials and melts them down to create recycled gold, silver, platinum, and other refined precious metal resources for a variety of new applications.

This article briefly explains gold recycling, its benefits for the market and the environment, and how to choose the best recycling company.

What Is Gold Recycling?

Companies use gold for more than just jewelry making: this precious metal is essential for the manufacturing of computers, phones, other electronics, spacecraft, and much more.

Gold recycling processes extract gold from unused products like old jewelry and electronics, which get melted and smelted (refined) to create materials for new applications. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. recycled an estimated 90 tons of gold in 2022.

Gold recycled by specialty refiners and smelters has various purity levels, depending on the sources and how each company processed the alloys.

Where Does Recycled Gold Come From?

old gold jewelries ready for recycling

A precious metal refinery may collect a variety of items, from dental gold to unwanted jewelry. This process of gold recovery is often called “urban mining.” Common sources of recycled gold include the following:

Scrap Jewelry

Many people have large amounts of unworn gold jewelry, making it a viable source of recyclable gold. Whether the jewelry contains high-quality pure gold or alloys, refineries can refine any old ring, necklace, or bracelet into usable gold for other applications.


Many electronics manufacturers use gold for its superior electrical conductivity, so a pile of defective electronics can make an excellent source of recyclable gold. Gold recycling enterprises remove gold from old mobile phones, computers, watches, vehicles, and other electronics. Electronic devices only contain a tiny amount of gold, but large-scale gold recovery operations can collect enough gold to make this source worthwhile for the industry and the planet.

Dental Gold

Gold was once a popular choice for dental crowns and inlays due to its malleability and non-toxicity. Dental gold often contains other metals, such as silver, palladium, and platinum, so reusing the gold from dental waste may require separating the precious metals into their respective parts.

Mining Waste

While gold mining remains a critical source, manufacturers are looking to recover gold from recycled sources for a more sustainable but equally valuable option. To get enough gold for one ring, miners generate about 50 tons of ore. Mining can also harm the environment, causing air pollution and soil erosion and releasing harmful substances like cyanide. Recycled gold from other sources is a much more sustainable option. Around 25% of the world’s gold is recycled!

Methods for Recycling Gold

traditional gold recycling in factory

The processes and purity standards for recycling gold have evolved over the centuries, but recycled gold is by no means a new resource.

Traditional Gold Recycling

Gold has held its value throughout history, so gold recycling is not a modern idea. Centuries ago, plundered currency was often melted down to create new gold coins, art, and higher-value ingots. Traditional gold recycling methods often produced gold alloys mixed with other metals because the processes lacked the refining standards used to recycle gold today.

Modern Gold Recycling

Modern recyclers produce gold in its purest form by separating it from other materials using various chemicals and smelting processes. The exact process depends on the ore or alloy being recycled. Refiners sort separated gold by purity and melt it into uniform shapes, such as bars or bullion.

Gold can be recycled unlimited times with no losses in purity or value, making recycled gold an excellent supplement to environmentally destructive mining operations. Many companies today have used recycled gold to produce their products for more than a decade and plan to transition away from the use of mined metals. For example, the jewelry company Pandora intends to use only recycled gold and silver by 2025.

What Are the Benefits of Recycling Gold?

plus icon printed on chips

Gold produced from recycled materials offers many benefits. For example, many manufacturers choose to buy recycled gold over mined materials because it costs less, resulting in higher profits.

The two primary benefits of gold recycling are natural resource preservation and environmental sustainability.

Less Reliance on Gold Mining

In recent years, gold production through mining has leveled off, leaving many to speculate about whether or not the world has reached the point of peak gold. Slowing production from natural gold deposits has inspired many companies to rely more on recycled gold to help preserve natural precious metal resources.

Reduced Environmental Impact

Mining gold ore can destroy the surrounding environment due to the heavy machinery and chemicals miners use. For instance, land and water surrounding gold mining sites face toxic pollution from cyanide, mercury, and other substances. Recycled gold presents a more sustainable option for sourcing new gold for various industries; many companies look to this green solution to protect the earth from toxic chemicals, soil erosion, and other adverse effects on the environment.

What Should You Look for in a Gold Recycling Company?

Some refining and smelting companies buy gold collections from consumers to source recyclable materials, but not all operations provide the same level of customer service. You need a reliable and integrity-driven company to sell your unwanted gold to ensure you get an honest valuation and prompt payment.

If you want to recycle gold with a reputable company, look for the following:

  • Timely payment
  • Honest valuation estimates from industry experts
  • Positive reputation with the majority of past customers
  • Good standing with organizations like the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Sustainable and responsible recycling practices that protect the environment

The best company to trust with your unwanted gold will offer clear expectations and documentation that explains the value of the recycled gold. It should provide high-quality customer service throughout the course of the process and maintain consistent and transparent communication with you.

Learn About Your Precious Metals IRA Options With Oxford Gold Group

Gold recycling can put some extra money in your pocket, but did you know you can use physical gold to fund individual retirement accounts (IRAs)? Here at Oxford Gold Group, we help people feel more secure in their retirement planning using valuable precious metals.

We can help you understand the different types of gold IRA accounts and if a precious metals IRA suits your situation. Call us today at 833-600-GOLD to learn how to use gold, silver, or another precious metal to back your IRA for more control over your retirement. You can also check out our free investment guide.

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