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.

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.

How Impurities Change Gold's Color

January 3, 2018 07:00

The term "impurities" has many connotations, but in gold mining and refining, impurities refer to anything that lowers the karat weight or millesimal fineness of a sample of gold. In our business, we’ll accept practically any scraps or objects that contain gold, but we ONLY pay for the gold content – impurities mixed in or alloyed with the gold like iron or nickel end up as waste products of our refinery process. However, that doesn’t mean impurities are worthless!  
Impurities can be used to change gold’s physical properties (like hardness) or appearance. Just like mixing different kinds of paint to create new shades, mixing gold with other metals creates new colors. By adding "impurities" the creative jeweler or goldsmith gets to make a veritable rainbow of new colors that still have gold's signature luster, weight, and value. For example, "white gold" is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, such as nickel or palladium. In the infographic below, you can learn about the different shades of gold and what types of metal are used to create those colors.

Melt Values for Trophies and Medals

January 3, 2018 07:00

A client recently asked if the items we buy include trophies and medals. Well, just like the significance of the accomplishments they commemorate, the aftermarket value of trophies and medals varies widely. We'd only pay for the amount of precious metals those awards are made of.

Unless you're a high-profile figure whose name adds value to whatever it's stamped on, then you're old trophies would only be valuable if they were gold or silver plated. Generally, awards made with genuine gold or silver are saved for the world stage – in which case, their historical significance, prestige, and level of craftsmanship are all certainly worth much more than the melt value of the precious metals they contain. The gold and silver trophies shown below are perfect examples. Check out our infographic below to learn about the precious metals used in the construction of some of the world’s most famous trophies and medals.

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