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How is the gold price calculated?

Like everything in the modern world, the price of gold is determined by what is known as ‘supply and demand’. Generally, if there is a high supply of an item and a low demand for it, the price of the item will be fairly low. Similarly, if the demand of an item is high and the supply is relatively low, the price of the item will be quite high.

Over the years, the gold industry has reflected this principle. In 1910, the average price of gold per ounce was $20.67. By the year 1950 the price had nearly doubled and in the year 2000, an ounce of gold cost a whopping $272.15.

How is gold tested?

F.Hinds takes the process of testing your gold or jewellery very seriously. With our combination of experience and acid testing we will accurately try and prove the quality of your gold.

Acid testing

All gold will undergo an acid test if a clear, legal hallmark is not present so please be aware that your items may be marked but we aim to test it as discreetly as possible.

How environmentally friendly is F.Hinds’ gold recycling?

Both newly-produced and recycled gold requires refining, however the main difference between the two in environmental terms is that recycled gold does not have to be mined.

We recycle an increasing proportion of gold we buy and our suppliers recycle an even larger amount. This minimises the amount of newly mined gold required to produce engagement and wedding rings etc. thus helping the environment.

We were one of the first companies in the UK to sign up to the ‘No Dirty Gold’ campaign’s Golden Rules which seeks to minimise the environmental harm of the production of gold. The extraction of all metals, both precious and base, has environmental implications and we are glad that the jewellery trade has been able to take a lead in trying to improve this. You can read more about this here.

Reasons to trust F.Hinds with your unwanted gold, platinum and silver

F.Hinds is a family owned and run business with over 160 years experience. Our pride in our reputation means that we will always offer you a fair and competitive price for your items and tell you if something you have is so valuable that you should try to sell it by an alternative method.

- We offer you a very convenient way to sell your gold and precious metals
- We guarantee to fully reimburse the scrap value to you in the event of any loss in transit (if your jewellery is send to our Head Office for further testing)
- You are under no obligation whatsoever to accept our offer. If you are unsatisfied with the offer, your item(s) will be returned to you as soon as reasonably possible
- We offer an enhanced cash offer if you wish to take F.Hinds gift vouchers
- You will be given an instant cash and/or voucher offer in store
- Our privacy policy assures that your information remains completely confidential

Gold fact file

Gold is as beautiful, practical and valuable today as it has ever been. Currencies and economies may fluctuate but gold has always remained a precious and valuable resource. Its unique physical and aesthetic qualities mean that gold is as desirable as it is useful; from its origins as a symbol of wealth in ancient civilisations to its modern uses in fashion, science and technology, gold has shown that it is a resource that is always in demand.

Today, the benefits of owning - or, indeed selling - gold are available to all of us. People are reaping the benefits of gold being priced at an all time high. They are making significant amounts of money from their unwanted jewellery and are even making money by selling damaged, odd and scrap items as well.

What is the history of gold?

Part of the beauty and allure of gold is that it has played a part in almost every culture around the world. A common idea amongst these cultures is that gold represents wealth, brilliance and power. In some cultures, gold was primarily linked to the Gods and many idols and statues were either crafted of solid gold or adorned with gold in some way.

The earliest records we have of gold date back to 3100BC. The Ancient Egyptians created a value scale for gold, stating that one component of gold was equal to roughly two and a half components of silver (it’s about sixty times today).

It wasn't until about 700BC that gold was first introduced as an element that had monetary value. Among the first to manufacture gold coins were Lydian Traders who combined a percentage of gold and silver to create a coin that held a designated amount of value. Many other countries and cultures began to grasp this concept and began to manufacture gold coins of their own, making gold a universally traded material.

When gold became a means to become wealthy and provide for a family, everyone wanted to find gold. Naturally, those that didn't have it wanted it and those that did have it wanted more. This gave birth to the famous great gold rushes of our time. The Victorian Gold Rush, The California Gold Rush and The Australian Gold Rush made gold more popular than it had ever been before. People soon began to realize that just as gold was a precious commodity, they were finding less and less of the valuable metal. After the understanding set in that gold was not a renewable resource, the trade of gold became more and more popular.

What makes gold special?

One of the most unique characteristics about gold is that it generally doesn't naturally combine with other metals and materials: it is almost always found pure, even in its most natural state. It is malleable so that instead of being crushed by a hammer, it simply changes shape and it also conducts electricity exceedingly well.

Gold is extremely resistant to pitting and oxidising (tarnishing), which is partly what makes it such a valuable material for jewellery such as necklaces and rings. Gold can be used to manufacture a number of things because, as it is malleable, it has the special ability to be stretched and hammered very thin. Gold that is thinner than 1/10 of a sheet of paper is often used for gold dental work, glass making and more and gold leaf has been used for centuries in decoration.

The purest form of gold is 24 carat; however, while this type of gold tends to be rare and beautiful, it also tends to be very soft and prone to damage. It can easily be nicked, scratched or cracked and therefore does not make for very durable rings or jewellery. Gold can be made stronger and more resilient by combining it with other, stronger metals. Silver and platinum make wonderful pieces of jewellery when alloyed with gold, and nickel and copper can be used to create gold that will be used for manufacturing purposes.

When looking at a piece of gold that is not 24 carat, for example 18 or 9 carat, you are looking at the ratio of pure gold to other metals such as silver or copper. A 18ct gold ring has 18 parts absolutely pure and flawless gold in it while the remaining 6 carats are comprised of other types of metal; a ratio of 3 parts pure gold to 1 part other metals.

How is gold produced?

Although the amount of gold is finite, gold production continues to be profitable to this day. Gold miners use several techniques to produce gold, including gold panning, metal detecting, slicing, dredging and hydraulic mining.

While gold panning is by far the simplest way to produce gold, it is often the least fruitful as the amount of gold found via panning is insignificant. By far, the most popular ways to produce gold is through metal detecting and hydraulic mining. Metal detecting can still be done on a small scale, where hydraulic mining is usually reserved for task forces. Very few task forces are dedicated to mining solely for gold - many of those mining for other metals such as silver and copper will often find both large and small quantities of gold within their own findings.

How is gold refined?

You have probably heard things like “We buy jewellery and send it to our refinery”. But what does this mean? What is a refinery and how is gold refined?

You probably have an idea of what an oil refinery is and a gold refinery operates in a similar way. As explained above, your gold jewellery is an alloy, mixed with copper, silver and other metals. When we buy it, the gold must be separated from the other metals so that it can be returned to its pure state ready for reuse.

This is what a refinery does. Items containing gold are melted down and the metals are separated. The process is rather complex and sophisticated, but this is basically how it works:

Step 1: Melt down the metal. The process begins by melting down the material to homogenize the gold. The bars are then molten and dumped into a bath of ice water to reduce the particle size resulting in bars that contain gold, silver, copper and other metals.

Step 2: Separate the gold. To separate the metals, the bars are dissolved into a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid in order to reduce the particle size. Nitric acid reacts with metals other than gold, so once the bar is measured for gold purity, the necessary amount of nitric acid is determined. Nitric acid will attack the copper and silver. The dissolving process takes between six and twelve hours. Once the material is dissolved, it goes from a metallic material to a liquid.

When the dissolving process is complete, the result is a brownish, rust-coloured, highly acidic liquid. Urea is added to neutralize the solution before the gold can be separated. Once the acid is neutralized, the liquid is gassed by bubbling sulphur dioxide into the ‘pregnant solution (e.g. impregnated with gold). As the gas bubbles in, the gold drops to the bottom of the tank. Once all gold is dropped out, a solution containing copper and silver remains.

This solution is then pumped into another tank. The bottom will be coated with a ‘yellow mud’ that is actually gold. At this point, the gold is about 99% pure, but it needs to be washed with sulphuric acid to clean out all remnants of silver and copper. De-ionised water is then used to wash the material through a highly sophisticated filtering system. The result is a cake of gold powder. That pure gold is then melted at a temperature of 2200 degrees and poured into bars.

Step 3: Remove the copper and silver. The remaining liquid still contains silver and copper and needs to be treated in an alternative process. Chemicals are added to remove the ammonia and raise the PH level of the liquid to remove the silver. A coagulant material is added to pull out small particles of copper. A muddy cake of copper remains. The left over liquid is then put through a polishing filter. After filtering, all that remains is salty water.

NOTE: This process is handled by experts with state-of-the-art machinery who are skilled in this process and take the precautions necessary to assure safety. Do not try this at home as the process, if conducted by an amateur or in inappropriate surroundings, is extremely dangerous.

Although gold is most often found in its pure and natural state, it can be extracted from other metals using a refining process. When other metals are present with gold, the material is called "ore". Refining can also be used to remove impurities from gold to give it a higher carat quality.

There are generally four types of refining processes; Flotation, Cyanidation, Carbon-in-Pulp and Amalgamation.

- Flotation involves using a carefully measured mixture of water and chemicals to separate the gold from the remnants of other metals. If the mixture is right, air bubbles can be created that cause the gold to stick to the top of the bubbles, allowing the gold to be taken easily from the top.
- Cyanidation also removes ore from gold with chemicals, but by forcing the separation through a chemical reaction with zinc
- Carbon-in-pulp involves using the same techniques as cyanidation, however, instead of Zinc, raw Carbon is added
- Amalgamation involves creating a chemical reaction with Mercury to collect the gold. The Mercury is then heated until it becomes a gas, leaving behind only beautiful, pure gold

Platinum fact file

Platinum is a dense, malleable, ductile, grey-white metal that is resistant to corrosion. It is an extremely rare metal and is more precious than gold or silver. It is non-magnetic, unlike iron and nickel.

What are its uses?

The frame of the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at her coronation in 1939 was made of platinum, the first time this metal was used in jewellery.

Platinum is much more common in jewellery today, and it is also used in watch making, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts, dentistry equipment and catalytic converters.

Where is it produced?

South Africa is the top producer with an 80% share, followed by Russia and Canada.

What makes it special?

Platinum has high wear - and tarnish - resistance making it perfect for the creation of fine jewellery. This is usually as a 90 – 95% alloy due to the metal’s inertness and shine. In watch making, platinum is highly valued, and famous makers such as Vacherin Constantin, Patek Philippe, Rolex and Breitling use platinum for producing their limited-edition timepieces, because of its unique properties of not tarnishing and wearing out.
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