Dallas refinery melts family treasures into cold, hard cash



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Posted on August 9, 2011 at 10:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 10 at 11:26 PM

Have you considered selling jewelry or heirlooms to take advantage of high gold prices?

DALLAS — Gold is hot.

Nowhere do they know this better than at Dillon Gage, the largest gold refinery in North Texas.

"The gold refining business has increased over 200 percent," said Terry Hanlon of Dillon Gage. "And the silver refining business has increased well over 300 percent."

One gallon freezer bags stuffed with jewelry and loose gold stand in piles at the refinery. Each piece represents a memory for someone.

The refinery takes  take those memories — in the form of scrap gold and silver — and melts them down into their purest form, 24 carat gold.

With the per-ounce price of the precious metal now exceeding $1,750, gold hasn't been worth this much since 1980. 

There are two main reasons people are cashing in their gold in these days: 

  • They are aware of its current value.
  • They need the money.

Although the prices of pure gold and silver have been on the rise for the last decade, like any market, it has has peaks and valleys. The scrap that ends up at Dillon Gage  comes from dealers, jewelers and pawn shops who buy it from consumers.

To make the most of their treasure, Terry Hanlon says consumers should educate themselves before deciding to sell it.

Sterling silver is 92.5 per cent pure, but a sterling platter or candlestick is probably not pure silver, so a seller shouldn't expect a four ounce piece of sterling to fetch as much as four ounces of pure silver.

Gold jewelry is graded from 10 carats (which is less than 50 percent gold)  to 24 karats (which is more than 99 percent pure).

Consumers selling gold or silver jewelry expect to be paid based on purity and market price. It helps to have an idea of the current market price, and what a dealer is paying before you agree to sell.

"Go in a little bit informed," Hanlon recommended. "You'll get lots of cooperation from most dealers. If they don't want to be cooperative about it, there's a reason. And move on to the next [dealer]. There's a lot of selections for places to go to sell gold."

In a world where much is disposable, nothing is thrown away at Dillon Gage.

Before melting, every scrap is accounted for.  During refining, every crumb is collected. 

Later, every ingot is scrupulously scrubbed —cleansed of sentiment; sterilized for a new economy.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com