Friday, February 3, 2017

Top Methods for Cashing in and Recovering Gold from Electronic Scrap

By now it's no secret that cell phones, computers, and other electronic "scrap" contains gold.  Gold and silver are both excellent conductors and highly corrosion-resistant, which would make them ideal metals to use for all sorts of electronic applications, if it wasn't for the high cost of precious metals (especially when compared to copper, which is a very acceptable substitute in most cases).

Even so, printed circuit boards, electroplated connectors, and almost-microscopic wires of solid gold are used in cell phones, computers, and many other high-end electronics.  The trick, then, is finding out which of these electronic devices contains the most gold and which devices can you source at a price that allows the economic recovery of that gold.

Most of those questions are beyond the scope of this article but I promise they will be covered in detail later so please check back.  The point of mentioning it now is to plant the ideas in your head, so you can start looking at different types of electronics, figuring out their approximate gold recovery contents, and finding places to buy those gold-bearing electronics for cheap (or even FREE since many people are more than happy to get rid of old computers and other electronics that are no longer used).

Back to the topic at hand... Once you've got gold-bearing electronic scrap, how do you turn it into money?  Let's look at some of the most popular ways...

Recover Gold from Electronic Scrap Yourself

Many of us who start acquiring more than a little electronic gold scrap start thinking about, and looking into, recovering all that gold ourselves.  Be warned... Methods used to recover gold from electronics involve using concentrated acids and harsh chemicals with potentially very bad consequences.  Plus the results will vary depending on your skills, education, and viability of the process used.  Add that to the difficulty and cost of sourcing chemicals and recovering gold from electronic scrap isn't very feasible or economical except to those highly knowledgeable with enough material to process on a larger scale.  Not recommended for the beginner.

Send Your Electronic Scrap to a Refiner

Did you know that there are electronic scrap refiners ready to take your old electronics and pay for the precious metals recovered from them?  Now, since we're dealing on the Refiner level here (larger scale), don't expect them to be interested in your old cell phone and a broken clock radio.  These guys are gonna want some sort of volume, although how much can vary greatly depending on which one you choose.  If you've only got a few old scrap electronics to sell, either save them up until you can meet a minimum shipment amount, or look to your local electronic scrap recyclers (although they likely won't pay much, if anything).

Rather than making a list of refiners (maybe we can do that later), it's easy enough to do a search for "electronic scrap refiner" and sift through the results.  When choosing a refiner, it's important to match their capabilities with the "type" of electronic scrap you want to sell (most will grade the scrap from high to low depending on the precious metal content and difficulty of recovery).

So, not only do you need volume (a lot of electronic scrap) when dealing with a refiner, it needs to be sorted according to their accepted grades.  Each grade usually has a minimum processing amount so you can't cash in on any of your scrap of a specific grade, until you've accumulated a substantial amount of it.  This can make it difficult for the small-time electronic scrapper to cash in unless you specialize and focus on only acquiring high-grade scrap.

The biggest benefit of cashing in electronic scrap with a refiner is that you'll get paid a higher overall amount on the gold (and other precious metals) recovered.  In addition, refiners have the ability to process large volumes of scrap electronics in every conceivable grade.  So if you can be successful on the small end with one refiner, there is ample room to scale your endeavors (and success) substantially.

Resell on eBay

This has become my favorite method for cashing in on electronic scrap gold... sell it on eBay.  This can be highly profitable (especially gold scrap from computers) but you gotta do it right and source your electronic scrap for cheap or you'll just be wasting time and money.

The basic ideas is to find old computers and computer parts for cheap or free (look locally at thrift stores, yard sales, craigslist, Facebook groups, etc, etc).  You pull out the high grade gold scrap and sort it, then when each sorted "group" of parts is large enough, you sell it as a lot on eBay, making sure to use keywords like "electronic gold scrap" in the title.

Here are several high gold content components from computers...

  • CPUs
  • RAM/Memory
  • Gold Plated Pins/Connectors
  • The edges of expansion cards (gold-plated "fingers")
  • etc, etc, etc

*As a side note, old cell phones also have a lot of higher gold content components and if you collect enough of them, can do the same thing with cell phones as I'm describing with computers here.

Do a quick search on eBay for the older CPUs, but add the words "gold scrap".  Some older computer CPUs (and other components) contained high amounts of gold, and can be resold for good prices (individually or in a group).  Some of the older, but still common CPUs that you can find in old computers, can be sold for $10-20 or more by themselves, still leaving the rest of the computer to salvage more precious metals (aka, value) from.

While this list wasn't exhaustive, hopefully it gave you some ideas and insights into making money on scrap gold in electronics.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How to Calculate the Gold Content of ANY Karat Gold Jewelry

While this may seem easy to experienced gold buyers, finders, and sellers, figuring out the percentage of gold contained in any and all pieces of gold (jewelry and otherwise) is vital to figuring out the gold melt value of an item.

Luckily, it's really easy to do, even if you're dealing with vintage pieces of low karat purity or modern and/or repaired pieces that contain less gold than the stamped gold purity implies.

To find the gold content of any karat of gold jewelry, simply divide the karat purity by 24.

Gold Content = Karat / 24

24 karat gold is considered pure gold (which is why you may see 24k gold-plated jewelry, but will not see 24k SOLID gold jewelry... pure gold is too soft).
So in the world of gold purity markings, the karat purity is always based on a total of 24 and goes down in a sliding scale mostly on even numbers (but not always, especially with older pieces).

The alternate to knowing the gold content formula mentioned above, is memorizing the gold contents of each karat purity.  Definitely possible, and many people do memorize the gold contents, but it's still valuable to know how to calculate gold content, especially if you're dealing with an odd karat purity or simply forget one of the numbers.

For reference, here are the common gold karat purities and their corresponding gold content....

10k  -  41.7% pure gold
12k  -  50.0% pure gold
14k  -  58.3% pure gold
18k  -  75.0% pure gold
22k  -  91.67% pure gold

Another time this formula comes in handy is when you suspect a piece of jewelry may contain less gold than the stamped purity.  This is often the case with repaired pieces of gold jewelry... the repair will almost always contain solder and may also contain gold of a lower purity.

In the U.S., it is legal for gold makers to "under-karat" their jewelry by up to 1/2 karat.  This means that gold jewelry makers can use a 13.5 karat gold mixture and still call it 14 karat gold.  Doesn't sound like much until you do the math and realize that's 2% less gold (which can add up substantially on large and heavy gold pieces).
If a piece of gold jewelry has been repaired, it can be up to 1 FULL KARAT LESS in gold purity and still retain the original marking.

This is all very valuable information to know before calculating the gold content and melt value, and especially before buying any piece of gold jewelry as refiners generally pay based on the amount of gold RECOVERED, and not based on the purity markings.

Hope this article helped add some knowledge to your gold scrapping toolkit.

Thanks for reading!

How Much Do Gold Refiners Pay and What Minimum Weight of Scrap Jewelry Will They Accept

How much money you get paid from your gold refiner and the minimum amount of scrap gold jewelry they accept are two common yet very important questions that come up often.  If you buy scrap gold (or want to), the answer to these two questions should always be front and center in your mind.  In order to be successful (and make a good amount of money), instead of ending up losing it all, most of your buying and selling decisions will be based on these numbers.

Usually I cut right to the chase but in this case I feel it's important that you understand WHY these numbers are important, and then we'll look at answering the gold refiner payout percentage and minimum gold shipment amount questions above.  If you're impatient, feel free to skip ahead but you'll only be cheating yourself.

Buying Scrap Gold Jewelry
The amount of money a refiner will pay you, along with the current price of gold, are two main factors that you must know in order to calculate a fair price that you can offer to those looking to sell scrap gold while ensuring an adequate profit buffer for yourself.

Keep in mind that the current melt value of gold when you're buying scrap is not going to be the same melt value when you've accumulated enough scrap jewelry to cash in with a refiner... the gold price will fluctuate so the longer it takes you to acquire enough scrap jewelry to cash in with a refiner, the more risk you take on (but with potential upside as well).
This is why knowing a gold refiners minimum shipment amount before buying gold jewelry is important.  If you are a long way from buying enough gold to cash in, the gold you buy initially will sit for longer and thus you'll have added risk that the price may go down while you hold on to it.  In this case, you may want to adjust your own payout percentage when buying scrap gold to reflect the added risk.
On the flip side, when you're sitting on enough scrap gold that you're close to the minimum weight to cash in, it's very beneficial to know this as offering a slightly higher percentage to attract more scrap gold deals is often in your own best interest as it means you can cash in and get a big payday yourself!

Selling Scrap Gold Jewelry
When you sell your scrap gold jewelry to a refiner, it is either evaluated and purchased outright by the refiner, or melted down, tested, then purchased based on the amount of pure gold recovered.  In either case, the payout amount is usually a fixed or sliding-scale percentage of current gold prices and may or may not include additional fees (assay, etc).
When a refiner offers a fixed percentage of gold melt value, you can always know roughly how much money you'll receive when cashing in.
When a refiner offers a sliding-scale percentage, this is usually based on the amount of scrap gold you send them, with the payout percentage getting progressively larger for larger amounts of gold.

Finally... Payout Amount & Minimum Weights

Refiners pay on average, around 95% of the current gold value and while the percentage may be fairly consistent across the board, not all refiners are equal.  Be especially cautious of extra fees as these can quickly erode the payout percentage, most certainly on smaller shipments.
That being said, the real answer is -- "It depends".  The amount of money you can expect to get back from a refiner in the form of cold hard cash in hand is usually in the 90-97% range with some variance.
Some refiners will pay up to 98% of gold melt value when the shipments are large enough (10+ ounces of mixed karat solid gold).
The other thing to consider in payout percentage is that not all gold is created equal and it is quite legal for jewelry makers to use slightly less gold than the stamped purity.  In the U.S., jewelry can contain up to 1/2 karat LESS gold than the purity marking states and still be OK.  So when a refiner pays based on the gold recovered, the payout amount may seem less for this very reason.

As to minimum weights for accepting scrap gold, most refiners will accept shipments of around 3 troy ounces of mixed karat solid gold.  Any less, and it is severely less economical to refine and recover the gold.
Even so, there are a few smaller refiners that will work with small-time gold buyers and are willing to accept gold shipments of less than 3 ounces, although at a reduced payout percentage.

So now you've got a few more nuggets of knowledge to add to your gold buying tool kit.  Good luck and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Common Gold-Plated Jewelry Markings and What they Mean

Sometimes it can be tough to tell if jewelry is solid gold or simply gold plated.  Even when you can read the markings on jewelry, they can be confusing and sometimes downright deceptive.  This makes the task of telling the difference between solid gold jewelry and gold-plated jewelry difficult, but there are some common letters and markings used that can help.

In this article, we'll look at the most common marks used on gold-plated jewelry and dig deeper into what those marks mean.

GF - Gold Filled
Jewelry pieces marked "GF" are not "filled with gold" as the name seems to imply, rather, they are made from a solid gold shell that is bonded (or "filled") with another metal.  Some vintage pieces use sterling silver as the "core" while most modern pieces use base metals in order to cut costs.
When it comes to gold-plated jewelry, "Gold Filled" platings are usually higher quality meaning they use more gold and the plating will last longer before wearing off.

To comply with US trade laws, gold filled jewelry must contain a certain amount of gold depending on the purity of the gold used for the plating process.

For gold filled jewelry with a 10k plating (41.7% pure), the amount of 10k gold used must be at least 1/10th (10%) of the item's total weight.

For gold filled jewelry with at least a 12k plating (50% pure), the amount of solid gold used must be equal to at least 1/20th (5%) of the total item weight.

GP - Gold Plate
RGP - Rolled Gold Plate
When the amount of gold used to plate jewelry is less than 5% of the item's total weight (less than 10% for 10k), the markings "GP", "RGP", or "Gold Overlay" are sometimes used.  This is the next thickest plating process so while the gold-plating won't last as long as GF (Gold Filled) jewelry, it will definitely last longer than electroplating gold.

The plating on GOLD PLATED jewelry is 5 to 10 times thinner than on GOLD FILLED jewelry.

EP - Electroplate
HGP - Heavy Gold Plate
HGE - Heavy Gold Electroplate

Electroplating is a process using electricity to coax gold out of a solution and onto the surface of jewelry and while it is a great way to provide an even, uniform coating of gold, the amount of gold used pales in comparison to other gold plating processes.  With electroplating, gold particles are given a positive charge, which is attracted to the item being plated as soon as a negative charge is given to it.  The process has become quite advanced, and some electroplating processes can give you a gold plating as thin as a human hair.
The main advantage of electroplated gold jewelry is cheaper costs, but be sure that it won't take long for this gold plating to wear through.
The word "Heavy" (or letter "H") is added to some electroplated jewelry, signifying a slightly thicker plating of gold, yet still much thinner than Gold Plate or Gold Filled.

The plating on ELECTROPLATED GOLD jewelry is 15 to 25 times thinner than on GOLD FILLED jewelry.

Fractions w/Purity Mark (ex: 1/10 10k, 1/20 12k, 1/20 14k GF, etc)
When you see a fraction along with a gold purity marking, the jewelry can be viewed the same as GOLD FILLED mentioned above, and sometimes the markings will even include the letters "GF" at the end.

The fraction refers to the amount of solid gold used to plate the item, in relation to the item's total weight.  So if a necklace is marked "1/10 10k" and weighs 10 grams, 1 gram of 10k gold was used in the plating.  With gold prices where they are, these types of gold plated jewelry are starting to get more attention from gold scrappers and refiners.

NOTE: Sometimes the fraction is simplified and comes AFTER the purity marking...  ex: "14k/20" is the same as "1/20 14k" and "1/20 14k GF".

When you see a piece of jewelry with a fraction and purity mark, the gold plating will be 5-10 times thicker than jewelry marked "Gold Plated" and 15 to 25 thicker than electroplated jewelry.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Common Markings Found on Real (Solid) Gold Jewelry

When first starting out buying and selling (or just finding) scrap gold jewelry, all the different jewelry markings and terms can seem somewhat daunting.

But the terms and jewelry marks don't have to be overwhelming, at least not most of it...  Here's a few tidbits about gold jewelry markings that should help you get well on your way to identifying real (solid) gold jewelry while leaving the fake (or plated) stuff behind.

First, when I say "real gold jewelry", what I really mean is "solid" gold jewelry... that is to say, jewelry with enough gold content that can be measured, valued, and economically recovered.  For the most part, this means items that are at least 10k solid gold.  Please take a look at my previous articles if this paragraph has you confused.

OK, now that we've defined WHAT we're looking for, let's look at HOW to identify it.  Keep in mind this is a simple guide covering the common basic markings, more in-depth knowledge and information (and thus, the real "secrets") will be revealed as time goes on.

The most common gold jewelry markings that I've come across fall into two basic formats:

Karat Purity Markings
A "karat purity marking" is by far the most common gold marking found on jewelry in the U.S., and quite common worldwide.  The format is simple and fairly easy to recognize, although manufacturers of plated and cheaper jewelry like to produce similar marks on their inferior products, lending some confusion to the mix.

In a nutshell, the common karat purity markings you'll find on solid gold jewelry follow this format:

Two Numbers - Followed by the letter "K", "KT", or "KP".

If you can remember that format, you'll be way ahead of most of your competition in being able to quickly identify real, solid gold jewelry.  Of course, the topic of gold jewelry markings is way more complicated than this, but for now, let's minimize distractions and focus on the jewelry that will make you money.

Some examples:
14 KP

K = Karat
KT = Karat
KP = Karat Plumb

Spacing between the numbers and letter "k" is somewhat arbitrary, though it should never be a very large gap.

It's OK to see letters or symbols after the "K", "KT", or "KP" - BUT, you don't want to see more letters IN CONJUNCTION WITH these letters.

Example, the marking "14K  EGN" is a "good" marking, one that you want to see because it most likely means the jewelry is REAL gold.  On the other hand, the markings "14KGE" or "14KGP" are "bad" markings, and signify the jewelry only has a gold plating.  (In the first marking, "EGN" with a space after the "K"... whatever letters appear after the space are usually a maker's mark or maker's initials.  However, when their is NO SPACE, the subsequent letters usually reflect characteristics of the metal purity... "KGE" = Gold Electroplated, "KGP" = Gold Plated.

Confused yet?  Don't be.  Just remember our formatting rule...

Two Numbers - Followed by the letter "K", "KT", or "KP".

That's all you need to remember right now, all the other garbage is distracting.

3-Digit Gold Purity Number
The second format for gold jewelry markings is much less common in the United States, mostly because jewelry that abides by this format originates in other countries across the world.  But it is definitely a common gold jewelry marking and one that you will run across (everyone LOVES finding pieces marked "750"... oh man!!!)

The second format has one simple rule:

Three Numbers

That's it!  Easy, huh?  Kind of... silver and platinum can also have similar markings so once again, it's not always a walk in the park (although walking in a park full of silver, platinum, and gold isn't necessarily a bad thing).

Basically, this jewelry marking format tells you the gold purity, in a parts-per-thousand label.  The three numbers answer the question "Out of 1,000 total "parts", how many are pure gold"?


417 = (10 Karat gold, or 41.7% gold, or 417 parts out of 1000 are gold)

585 = (14 Karat gold. 14k is actually 58.3% pure gold, but 585 is the marking I commonly see)

750 = (18 Karat gold, or 75% pure gold, or 750 parts out of 1000 are gold)

So that, in a nutshell, covers the common gold jewelry markings.  In future articles we'll go into some of these markings in-depth, along with making sense out of the gold-plated markings, makers marks, deceptive/misleading markings, and more.

Until then, happy hunting!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Scrap Jewelry Terms - Real Gold, Solid Gold, Fine Gold, and Pure Gold - What Exactly Do They Mean?

There's boat-loads of money to be made buying and selling scrap gold jewelry but before going further, now would be a good time to clarify a few terms since understanding what these phrases really mean can be the difference between making huge profits, or making costly mistakes.

For the sake of clarity on this site (and throughout your gold-scrapper education), I'll do my best to stick to these terms as closely as possible when describing new concepts and methods.  If I stray, please kindly jot me back in line.  :)

Real Gold vs. Solid Gold

If you want to be a super-specific nerd, consider this... ANY amount of the precious metal we call gold, even down to microscopic, unrecoverable particles, is technically considered "real gold".  Even some cheap Chinese jewelry has an electroplating of "real gold", though it is likely much thinner than the thickness of a human hair and impossible to extract and worthwhile value, technically even electroplated jewelry contains minor amounts of "real gold".

For the sake of argument, sanity, and clarity, we aren't going to be the super-specific "technically speaking" know-it-all nerdy Ned here... We've got much bigger fish to fry, like learning how to find mountains of solid gold jewelry and make gobs of cash.

I use the phrase "Solid Gold" throughout the majority of content offered on this site and unless explicitly stated, when you see the phrase "real gold", it is being used interchangeably with "solid gold".  I'm using both phrases to mean one thing: Gold that can be reliably measured, valued, and economically recovered.

Solid Gold (Technically Speaking)

If you live in the United States, "Solid Gold" is considered any gold alloy that is at least 10k pure gold.  Laws and definitions may vary slightly in other countries but in the US, there are laws in place that legally prevent jewelry manufacturers from describing any piece of jewelry as "solid gold" unless it contains at least 41.7% gold (10k pure).

As far as the scrap gold jewelry buyer and seller goes, this definition is good enough for our purposes.  Funny enough, some older pieces of jewelry are even stamped with the words "Solid Gold"... and so far, all these pieces I've tested have turned out to be 10k gold.

Fine Gold vs. Pure Gold

Two more terms that can easily be confused yet most of us use them interchangeably.

Fine Gold is a phrase usually found in conjunction with gold bullion, and commonly following a bunch of 9's. (ex/ .999 Fine Gold or 99.9% Fine Gold).
Think of "Fine Gold" as more of a technical term... this phrase acknowledges the fact that no matter how hard we try, it's impossible to remove every single little impurity from gold.  So instead of 100% PURE gold, we have "Fine Gold", which is kinda like saying "This is as close to pure as we can get".

Pure Gold, then is a phrase our "super-specific" nerdy Ned might like, since pure gold is technically saying the item consists of 100% pure gold with no impurities or imperfections whatsoever.

For the most part, Pure Gold and Fine Gold will be used interchangeably, although you'll see that Fine Gold is more suited for describing bullion and investment grade gold items while Pure Gold is best pared with a Karat Purity number, representing a percentage of Pure Gold rather than 100% pure gold itself.

Gold Jewelry Test Acids - What They Are, How to Use Them, and What They are Telling You

In my previous article, we looked at the basic tools everyone should have in their gold testing kit.  Gold testing acids, mentioned briefly, are now the core focus and topic at hand.

Gold testing acids can be purchased Online, and normally come in small plastic 2-ounce dropper bottles, sometimes even including color-coded labels and lids.  Each dropper bottle is labeled with a corresponding gold karat purity, the common ones being 10k, 14k, 18k, and 22k.

Here's the KEY to understanding gold test acid and how it works...

It all starts out as concentrated Nitric Acid.  This acid is measured and diluted in very specific increments to give you the varying purities, or acid "strength".  So - 10k gold test acid is much "weaker" than the 14k, 18k, or 22k test acids.  The are all the same acid, but the 10k bottle has been diluted more.  As such, the 10k acid won't dissolve as many metals as the others will which is how you can tell that a jewelry item is "at least 10k gold, but definitely less than 14k pure".

Concentrated Nitric Acid will dissolve and/or react with almost all metals, including all but the most pure gold.  Some metals like copper and brass turn blue/green, while others dissolve completely.
By diluting this acid, we vary the degree at which it will dissolve metals and can then make a rough estimate of an item's gold content, if any.

To look at it another way, 10k gold test acid IS weak Nitric Acid, 14k gold test acid is slightly stronger Nitric Acid, 18k test acid is slightly stronger... and so on.

How to Test an Item Using Gold Test Acids

There are two standard approaches to testing a piece of jewelry (or any gold for that matter) using gold test acids.  Each approach, of course, has its own methods of execution, which are mostly a personal preference but some methods of execution are much more destructive to the jewelry in question than others.  We'll try to stick with the less destructive methods.

The "method of execution" we'll use in these examples involves firmly grasping the piece of jewelry and then rubbing it back and forth across the surface of a test stone several times in order to produce a metal line.  Gold test acid is then dripped onto the test stone's surface to observe any reactions between the acid and metal line created from the jewelry.

NOTE: Sometimes items may have an extra thick plating (silver-plated flatware, for example).  In these cases, the "rub test" can still work and save you from filing into an item.  Simply rub a good solid line on the test stone (as described above) then move the piece of jewelry to a different spot on the test stone and make a second, good solid line -- making sure to continue rubbing IN THE SAME SPOT on the jewelry.  By rubbing two lines onto the test stone, both from the same spot on the jewelry, you'll almost guarantee the metal that makes up the second line on the test stone has come from underneath any plating the item may have and will reveal the true metal content of the item in question.

The first approach for testing gold jewelry is when the karat purity is known (or at least "reasonably assumed")

In this case, you'll make a metal marking on your test stone (as described above), then start with the gold test acid that matches the purity of the item.  If you're testing a 14k wedding band, make a mark on your test stone, then start with the 14k test acid.

Each test acid is just powerful enough to dissolve metals "up to, but NOT INCLUDING" the specified purity.  So if you have a mark on your test stone made from a 14k gold ring, the 14k test acid SHOULD NOT dissolve this marking.  After the acid has been in contact with the metal for some length of time, the metal may darken and discolor, but the 14k test acid will not dissolve gold-old-honest 14k solid gold.

Using this logic, we can then move up or down the acid potency scale to get a better idea if our ring is real and how much gold it contains.

Ex/ If the 14k test acid DISSOLVES the metal line from a "suspected" 14k gold ring, we would rub another line on the test stone and use the 10k test acid on this line.  If the 10k acid DOESN'T DISSOLVE the new metal line, our jewelry in question IS REAL GOLD, and it is AT LEAST 10k pure, but definitely LESS THAN 14k.  If the new metal line IS DISSOLVED by the 10k test acid, the item is not solid gold at all (at least, not by American Jewelry standards, which require a 10k minimum to be considered "solid" gold.  On the other hand, some antique pieces were made from 8k and 9k gold so all this test tells you is that the piece is "less than 10k pure gold").

The second approach for testing gold jewelry is when you don't know the purity (and might not even know if the item is real gold)

In this approach, we rub the jewelry on our test stone as before, then start with the weakest test acid... 10k.  If this test acid dissolves our metal line made by the jewelry, the piece is not gold (or more accurately, it's "less than 10k pure gold").  Almost all, if not all of the gold jewelry you will find today is at least 10k gold but it is still helpful to look at this from both viewpoints.
So if the 10k acid reacts with the metal line, the test is over and the item is a dud as far as scrap jewelry is concerned.

If, on the other hand, the 10k test acid doesn't dissolve our metal line, we're onto something and should move up the acid test scale.

So the metal line withstood 10k gold test acid... make a new test line with the jewelry and then drop a little 14k test acid on there.  What happens?

If the metal line dissolves this time, you likely have 10k gold.

If the metal line persists, you might have 14k (or better) gold.

I say "might" there because, while Nitric Acid is, well, an acid... it doesn't dissolve everything so the acid test is not always 100% accurate.  (For instance, none of the test acids seem to do anything to a metal test line made from an aluminum pop can.)

This is one VERY VALUABLE reason to keep the higher karat (aka, more potent) gold test acids around.  When testing a piece of gold, ideally you want to find that one test acid WILL DISSOLVE the metal, while the NEXT STEP DOWN WILL NOT.  If you work your way up the test acids all the way to 22k and still can't dissolve the metal test line, it'd be a good time to start being leery of the piece in question (unless it's marked 22k or a gold nugget).

Hopefully by the time you hit the 18k test acid, you'll have a good idea if the item is real and if so, what's the gold PURITY.  My favorite acid tests are when you work all the way up the scale on an unknown piece and then BAM, the 22k test acid dissolves the line, signaling you've found a nicely valuable piece that's at least 18k (75%) PURE GOLD.

So now you know way more than most about gold test acids, what they are, how they're used, and what you can (and can't) learn from them.  This will give you a good basis to go on but nothing beats practice and experience.

If you can, get your hands on a gold test kit as soon as possible along with some jewelry pieces of known and unknown precious metal content.  When you've got the test kit, the more you use it and the more jewelry pieces you "test", the more knowledgeable and proficient you'll become.

Or if nothing else, start by testing a few "known purity" items, that way you can see how the acids react to real gold, and will be better equipped to identify real gold jewelry in the future.

Keep at it!