The MGS Precious Metals Blog

Manhattan Gold & Silver is an industry leader in precious metal pricing and refining with more than 30 years of experience. During our time in the business, we’ve found the topic of precious metals to be a vast and interesting one. Here on our precious metals blog, we write in-depth posts about the science of precious metal refining, historical and modern uses for precious metals, market news, and much more. Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay current, and discuss the latest posts on our Facebook page.

'1 Billion Euros' Worth of Precious Metals and Gems Stolen in Heist

January 28, 2020 07:00
'1 Billion Euros' Worth of Precious Metals and Gems Stolen in Heist

Germany’s Dresden Castle is famous for its “Green Vault” museum, which exhibits the largest and most valuable collection of treasure in Europe. It is a truly dazzling spectacle to behold--showcasing exemplary masterworks and royal commissions by the finest goldsmiths, silversmiths, and jewelers of the Baroque and Classicist-periods. The intricate designs, attention to detail, and sheer skill on display is something every jeweler should try to see in-person at least once. Unfortunately, several items from the Vault’s collection are still missing after a group of thieves broke in last November.

According to Saxony police, the suspects damaged a power box near the Augustus bridge, causing a power outage that disabled the museum’s security alarms as well as all the street lamps in the castle’s vicinity. They then broke into the Green Vault by cutting through the iron bars on one of the windows and used a hand axe to smash three display cases.

Since the CCTV cameras were still functioning, unarmed security guards were able to alert the police right away. Although the suspects were believed to have fled in an Audi A6, a vehicle matching that description was later found on fire in an underground parking lot.

Police have offered a €500,000 reward for information that could lead to the capture of the perpetrators.

Statements by museum personnel and officials from the State of Saxony say that the historical and cultural significance of the stolen items makes their value impossible to quantify. Yet, some reports have estimated the heist’s value to exceed 1 billion euros. A few of the more noteworthy items include:

  • A hat clasp with a 16-carat diamond, 103 smaller diamonds, and 14 other large gemstones
  • A silver and gold sword with a hilt containing 9 large and 770 smaller diamonds
  • The 49.71 carat Dresden White Diamond (worth €9–10 million)

According to Marion Ackermann, director of Dresden’s State Art Collection, the items were not insured, which is standard for artifacts owned by the state.

This heist comes two years after another German museum was broken into. In March 2017, thieves stole a 220-pound solid gold coin worth an estimated $4.3 million from the Bode Museum in Berlin. Four suspects in that case went on trial in January 2019 in a process that is still ongoing.

Most Pawned Items by State - Infographic

January 21, 2020 07:00
Most Pawned Items by State - Infographic

When it comes to pawning, not all things are created equal. In the Top 3 Things to Pawn at a Pawn Shop, we looked at what items are most in demand at pawnshops. The items most in demand, however, are not necessarily the tops things Americans are pawning when they need cash. And even that differs based on geography. According to PawnGuru, guns are pawned at disproportionately higher rates in southern and western states, while Michigan pawnshops see more cars and trucks.

Here’s a breakdown of the most popular items pawned by state compared to the national average:

Most Pawned items by state infographic – MGS

Mining E-Waste for Jewelry

January 14, 2020 07:00
Mining E-Waste for Jewelry

Would you wear a ring made of electronic-waste? After all, gold is gold, no matter where it’s sourced from--and you’d be helping the environment. Let’s look at e-waste and how the jeweler industry is helping the environment.

The Growing E-waste Problem

The world generates about 50 million tons of e-waste annually, and according to the World Economic Forum could exceed 120 million tons by 2050. The problem is only about a fifth of electronic items like LCD desktop monitors, computers and mobile devices get recycled. The rest end up either incinerated or in landfills.

E-waste, however, contains valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper. In fact, there is 100 times more gold in a ton of discarded mobile phones than in a ton of gold ore. According to the WEF, the value of the e-waste generated worldwide amounts to $62.5 billion.

With so much at stake, a push for industrial-scale e-waste recycling seems inevitable, especially in the wake of countries like China, and now Southeast Asia, no longer accepting e-waste from Europe, Australia and North America.

Dell Paves the Way for Responsible Recycling

Dell became a leading advocate of responsible recycling over a decade ago with the launch of the Dell Reconnect program. The company has since partnered with Goodwill to establish e-waste recycling centers across the United States, as well as the United Nations to tackle e-waste in developing counties.

Dell is not only recycling plastics and using recycled carbon fiber in their products, they are also recovering gold—a key material in many electronics—and reusing it.

“At the start of this project it was our ambition to use more recycled materials in our products,” Louise Koch, Dell's Corporate Sustainability Director, told the Institute of Engineering and Technology. “We have been using recycled plastics from our own computers since 2014 and now we are expanding into using gold from motherboards and recovering that and using it both for new motherboards and turning it into gold bars and supplying it to Nikki Reed to make jewelry.”

Turning E-Waste into Jewelry

While phones and tablets don't hold much gold individually, when it's collected from millions of pounds of electronics, that’s a different story. It's also why it’s important consumers recycle their electronics responsibly.

Twilight star Nikki Reed is the founder of BaYou With Love, which designs and sells collections using gold from Dell’s US recycling programs. “I hadn’t worked with this medium before--a lot of what we use in our sustainable products are recycled ocean plastics,” Reed told Refinery29. “Our factory [in LA] was asking me all these questions, like how are we going to receive this gold? There are all these legalities that come along with that--they have to receive it in a certain form so it has to be extracted in a certain way.”

The gold was shipped these to Reed's Bayou with Love from Wistron Green Tech, which extracts gold from motherboards they receive from Dell's consumer recycling program.

Dell, which uses about 7,000 pounds of gold in its products every year, says only 12.5 percent of e-waste is recycled to create other products. That means consumers throw out over $60 million of gold and silver from tech annually.

Before you throw out your old electronic devices, be sure to visit Dell, Apple, Samsung and Best Buy for recycling options.

Check out our infographic for more fact and figures about gold recycling.

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