gold being weighed on a scale

Selling Gold: Understanding Weights

People with unwanted gold jewelry, scrap gold, gold coins, and trinkets can sell these items to gold buyers such as cash-for-gold or pawn businesses. Determining the gold weight in an item can be complex, because gold used to make these items is seldom pure 24-karat gold. Pure gold is quite soft, so it’s combined with other metals to make alloys.

Gold alloys, usually expressed as the percentage of gold, are more durable. For example, 14-karat gold is “585,” or 58.5% pure; 18-karat gold is labeled “750,” or 75% percent pure; and so on.

Gold Percent

Calculation of gold weight is easy if the buyer knows how much gold is in the item. He or she simply calculates the weight of the item either in Troy ounces (not avoirdupois ounces used in the U.S.) or pennyweight, the jeweler’s measurement of gold weight. Gold sellers interested in understanding weights can obtain a jeweler's scale, magnifying loupe with at least 10x magnification, and a calculator to weigh, evaluate, and calculate the actual amount of gold for sale.


To determine the percentage of gold that a bar or coin contains, start by looking at the metal. Gold bars typically have the percentage, or karat weight, stamped on them. One karat is the equivalent to one twenty-fourth pure gold. For example, 22-karat gold is 91.67% pure gold. Coins very seldom have any imprints, so it’s best to identify the coin in a catalog, either online or at coin sellers’ stores.

After you have determined the gold content of an item, weigh it on a scale. If weighing gold jewelry, it’s important to note that gems, enamel, or other additions will add weight to the piece. The weight of these additions should be subtracted from the total weight to arrive at the actual weight of the gold. Calculation of the net gold amount in this example can be challenging. Unless the seller knows gemstone weight, for example, it's essential to ask a professional jeweler to perform the calculation.

Weight Conversion

Calculate ounces of gold items into pennyweight for gold jewelry. The pennyweight equals one twentieth of an ounce of pure gold. Jewelers use the pennyweight measure because the actual amount of gold used to make a piece of jewelry is usually quite small. To convert the amount of pennyweight, multiply the number of ounces by 20. For example, with an ounce of gold, the individual has 20 pennyweight.


Selling gold is a relatively easy process. It's important for you to know how much gold you have. Realistically, people sometimes mistake a piece of jewelry for "pure gold," and pure gold is seldom used to make jewelry because it's soft. Some coins, such as American buffalo coins, are minted with pure gold. People selling broken or scrap jewelry don't need to polish or repair these items, because the gold buyer is purchasing the gold by weight. He or she probably doesn't plan to repair and resell an item.