Frequently Asked Questions About Metal Refining

Frequently Asked Questions About Metal Refining

What metals do you accept for processing or purchase?
We process and recycle almost all forms of scrap metal containg Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium

What types of Gold Scrap to you accept?
Karat Gold Jewelry, Bench Filings, Jewelers Sweeps and Polishings, Dental Gold, Gold Filled, Stainless Steel Backed Watchbands, Gold Plated Electronic Scrap, Printed Circuit Boards, Plating Filters, Gold Leaf, Gold Bearing Residues and Salts

What types of Silver do you accept?
Sterling Silver Jewelry, Flatware and Holloware,  Silver Plated Holloware and Electronic Scrap,  Plating Anodes, Electrolytic Silver Flake, Metallic Replacement Canisters, 90% and Clad Silver Coins, Silver Contact Points, Dental Amalgam, Silver Chloride Powder, Industrial Silver Paste, Solder and Silver Bearing Residues and Salts

What types of Platinum do you accept?
Platinum Jewelry Scrap and Filings, Thermocouple Wire, Labware, Residues and Salts

What types of Palladium do you accept?
Palladium Jewelry Scrap and Filings, Dental Gold, Electrical Contacts and Components

Do you process Jewelers Sweeps and Polishing Scrap?
Yes.  Our process utilizes a “draft free” static roasting process that eliminates common stack losses in traditional incineration.  The roasted material is ball milled and screened to a 70 mesh fines, blended and sampled.  This approach of “minimizing the process” reduces the mechanical losses that smelting or chemical leaching would typically have.

Do you pay for all Precious Metal contained in my scrap?
Yes, as long as it results in a financial benefit for our customers.  Our refining shedules have been designed with flexibility that enables us to credit our customers for all Precious Metal in their scrap material when warranted.

What is the difference between Yellow Gold and White Gold?
The color of Gold can be manipulated through the composition of the Alloy used in the casting process.  Traditional Yellow Gold is alloyed with Silver, Copper and Zinc, while White Gold will contain Alloy made from Nickle, Zinc, and Copper.

Why do you have to melt my scrap?
There is  one reason, and one reason only we melt your scrap materials, and that’s to create a homogeneous alloy  which enables accurate sampling for determining it’s fine metal content.

What is the most accurate method to determine the Fine Gold and Silver content in a melt?
Fire Assay is still considered the most accurate and reilable method to analyze for Gold and Silver in Precious Metal Alloys.  Fire Assay , Wet Chemical (ie. Gavimetric, Titration, etc.) or ICP are the preferred methods for Platinum Group Metal analysis.

What is Fire Assay analysis?
In the fire assay process, a sample is wrapped in lead foil with silver. The wrapped sample, along with prepared control samples are heated at 1950 F in a fusing process.  Seconary processes utilize cupels made of compressed bone ash or magnesium oxide and then followed up by Nitric Acid parting and the final annealing of the recovered fine metal sponge.

What  is XRF anaslysis?
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is the emission of characteristic "secondary" (or fluorescent) X-Rays from a material that has been excited by bombarding with high-energy X-Rays.

What is ICP analysis?
Inductively Coupled Plasma  (ICP) is an analytical technique used for the detection of metals. It is a type of emission spectroscopy that uses the inductively coupled plasma to produce excited atoms and ions that emit electomagnetic radiation at wavelengths characteristic of a particular element.

Why does my Karat Gold Scrap typically yield less than it’s Plumb Karat value?
Used or pre-owned Karart Gold jewelry scrap collected or purchased from the public will often yield gold recoveries approximately ½ Karat grade below it’s marked or stamped karat grade.  The reason for this is pre-owned jewelry frequently contains lower karat solder for mounting settings or from years of repairs and resizing .  Normal wear and tear and oxidation of alloys will also affect the recoverable metal fine metal content.

What is sampling?
Sampling is a statistical survey methode concerned with the selection of a subset from within a statistical population to estimate characteristics of the whole population.   As it relates to what we do in Precious Metal processing it refers to recovering a small portion of metal from a homogeneously prepared alloy (or blended powder) through standardized accepted industry protocal for the purpose of analysis to determine the fine metal content in an entire lot.

What is an Umpire sample?
An umpire sample is a reserve sample drawn at the time all other samples are taken to be used for the purpose of sending out for third party  analysis in the case of a disputable difference between assays reported by a refiiners laboratory and the customers laboratory.  Often Umpire samples are sealed with tamper resistant security tape in the presence of both parties.

What is the best method to sample a Precious Metal melt?
It would be difficult to say one sampling method is better than another when it comes to those typically used and accepted as standard industry practice.  The three most common methods used in the Precious Metal Industry are:  Pintube Samples use a vacuum to extract a small amount of material from a moltened metal bath.  Dip Samples can are taken by using a cup made of high temperature refractory material and immersing it into a moltened bath and poured into small ingots or granules.
The third acceptable method is a Drill Sample where metal borings are extracted from the hardened metal ingot after it’s been melted.  Industry protocal requires three holes drilled on both top and bottom sides of the bar.

What is melt loss?
Melt loss is the difference between the “before melt” and the “after melt” weights of a processed lot.

What causes melt loss?
Melt loss is caused by the burn-off on non-metallic components contained in a melt, like glass, valueless gemstones, enameling or even price tags or stickers left on material.
Melt loss will also occurr from the oxidation of certain metallic components found in jewelry alloys and solders. Elements like Zinc and Cadmium will oxidize and turn to a gas at the temperatures we require to melt jewelry scrap into a homogeneous sampleable form.   As these base metals oxidize there is an offsetting elevation in the concentration of the Precious Metal content.  Precious Metals CANNOT oxidize or go up in smoke at the temperatures we melt at.

What is a Troy Ounce?
The troy ounce (oz. t) is a unit of imperial measure, now commonly only used for the mass of Precious Metals.  One troy ounce is now defined as exactly 31.1034 grams.  The troy ounce is about 10% heavier than the avoirdupois ounce which equals 28.3495 grams.

How many Troy Ounces are in a Pound?
There are 14.583 troy ounces in the common Avoirdupois Pound.

What is a Pennyweight?
A Pennyweight (Dwt.) is a unit of mass that is equal to 24 grains,  1⁄20 of a troy ounce.

How should I ship my Gold and Silver to you?
The safest and most economical way to ship your Gold, Silver and Platinum scrap is through our Insured contracted Express Courier Services.  We arrange for pick-up at your secure location and your package is delivered to us the very next morning.  Additionally, as a Mid-States customer your shipping rate has a built in 30% discount to normal Courier rates.  Shipping charges are applied to your final settlement  volume so there is no additional work for you.
You may also use Insured Registered Mail Service through the US Postal Service if that’s more convenient, however you should expect transit times of 4 days or more for delivery.

How is my parcel insured when I arrange shipping through you?
When you allow us to arrange your shipping through our Express Courier Sevice we determine (with your assitance) the level of coverage necessary.  Our agent provides that information to our Insurance Provider (currently G4S International).  There are basic packing and labeling instructions you are required to follow to avoid delays or complications should a claim ever be needed.  Insurance for Truck and LTL Transport is also by special request.

Can I deliver my Precious Metal scrap to you personally?
You or any designated agent is always welcome to personally deliver material to any Mid-States or MSR Express locations during our normal business hours.  Please call ahead whenever possible.

Can I ship my Gold and Silver to you from Canada or Mexico?
Yes.  The Express Courier as well as the insurance carrier we contract with provide secure shipping between the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Some additional documentation is normally required (ie. NAFTA, Commercial Invoice and other Customs Documents).  Your local Customs Broker will be able to provide you what may be required for your particular situation.

How should I prepare my scrap material before I ship it?
Karat Gold, Sterling Silver or Platinum Jewelry Scrap should be sorted and sealed in separate clearly marked plastic poly bags.  A Packing List or Invoice detailing the entire contents, weights and any specific processing instructions should be included with every package.  Additional packing and handling instructions to satisfy our Insurance carrier’s requirements are available from our agents and the Mid-States website.  For large quantitiy shipmenmts of Sterling Silver, Jewelers Polishing Sweeps, Gold Filled Scrap, etc. we are happy to provide you drums or other appropriate containers that suit your needs.
Can you recover Diamonds and Colored Gemstones from Karat Gold and Sterling Silver scrap?
Yes.  Our Diamond and Gemstone processing operation is housed at our primary facility in Des Plaines, IL .  Our stone recovery process utlizes  “old school chemistry” utilizing modern technology and process controls to maximize Precious Metal recovery, while completely eliminating all adverse Envronmental impact.

How do you recover the Diamonds from Karat Gold Scrap?
Our stone recovery process employs traditional Aqua Regia metal dissolution in specially designed high temperature clear glass reactors enabling us to visibly monitor the entire process from start to finish.  All reaction gases are quickly cooled through chilled condensors and converted back to liquid, thus eliminating all mechanical losses of valuable metals while still enabling proper fume scrubbing resulting in Pollutant free exhaust.  Next all Diamonds, Gemstones and any small flecks of undisolved metallics are filtered from the Chloride Solution .  Complete recovery of the Fine Gold and other Precious Metals is achieved through tradional precipitation techniques employing controlled gasing and the addition of other reagents and chemicals.  All recovered pure Precious metal sponge, salts and undisolved metallics are sent on for melting and sampling.   Diamonds and Gemstones are treated in our Stone Recovery Lab to remove all deleterious debris, acid washed and ultrasoncally cleaned.   Optional “Acidic Surface Etching” our customers may request to assist in sorting  their clear stones is the final step of our process.

Do you purchase Diamonds and Colored Gemstones?
We will not purchase Diamonds or Gemstones, as this is not our area of expertise.   However we are happy to refer you to reputable stone buyers and brokers that are known to consistently pay the highest prices available.   We do not receive commissions or referral fee’s from any of these buyers, as we feel that any financial arrangement with these stone dealers is inappropriate and in the end only ends up costing you, our customer.

Can I witness the processing and sampling of my material?
Our customers or their designated agent is always welcome to witness the processing and sampling of their material, and have been for over 30 years.  In the Precious Metal trade this is referred to as “Representation”.   This provides our customers the comfort of conducting business in an atmosphere with open and full  full transparency.   “Representatives” who witness processing will receive samples from each melt which they may use for their own Assay verification.

How do I get paid for my Gold, Silver, Platinum or Palladium?
Settlement for your refining lots is available several ways or any combination thereof.  These options include payment by Check, Cash, Wire Transfer and ACH.  We are also able to provide Fine Metal in the form of Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium - Government, Bank or Privately Issued Bullion Investment products, Grain, Sheet and Wire.

How long does it take to get paid for my scrap material?
The Settlement Time for your scrap material varies with the type and grade of each.  For instance Karat Gold Scrap for melt typically takes 3-5 Business days, however Express Terms are also available that provide same day payment.  Sterling Silver is settled within in 10 business days.  Please refer to the “Refining Schedules” on our website or ask one of our Sales Agents for information relating to the specific materials you have available for processing. 

Can I take my payment as Pure Gold, Silver Platinum or Palladium?
Yes, we are able to provide Fine Metal in return for all or any portion of your Final Settlemenmt in the form of Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium - Government, Bank or Privately Issued Bullion Investment products, Grain, Sheet and Wire.

Do I have to price my metal and take payment when my lot is due for Settlement?
No.  You have the option of placing your metal on account enabling you the option to hold your metal for pricing and payment on a future market price or have returned as Fine Metal.   We’ll create your personal “Consignment” (“Pool”) Account where we’ll be crediting or debiting  your metal transactions.   You’ll be provided secure Internet access through our website to view and track  your account balances along with the entire  history your past refining, pricing and purchase activity and transactions.

Can I lock the price of my metal prior to shipping or your having received it?
Absolutely.  In fact we suggest that customers who are purchasing metal from the public or from other dealers it’s a good idea to periodically “pre-sell” your metal as part of your risk management strategy to avoid market fluctuations that can negatively impact your profit margins.  Please contact your sales agent to discuss how we can assist you to incorporate these strategies.

On what markets, and when am I allowed to price my metal?
We trade Precious Metal Commodities on both London and New York markets.  Metal pricing is available during live trading hours on the New York Comex while London Pricing is done on the basis of that days settled price (2nd London Fix) as long as your trade request is received prior to 9:00 AM CST.

What is the Second London Gold fix?
The London Gold Price is quoted twice a day.  For simplicity sake those prices are basically the opening and closing price of Gold.  Throughout the day the market is not actually trading in the same way the US counterpart markets actively trade.  Throughout the day several banks and other institutions are matching buy and sell orders as well as monitoring other Financial activities that affect metal Inventories and Currencies.  At the end of the day a committee assembles (electronically nowadays) and determines the closing price for that day.  This is known as the 2nd London Fix.

Do you buy and sell pure Gold and Silver Coins and Bullion?
Yes, we purchase all forms of Precious Metal Bullion and Investment products.  We also maintain an fairly complete inventory of most popular Government issued as well as privately hallmarked Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium investment instruments.

How does the Mid-States Karat Kalculator determine the estimated net value of Karat Gold Scrap?
While other company’s Scrap Evaluators often use “Plumb” values to guess the value of a scrap shipment the Mid-States Karat Kalculator utilizes recovery data collected over decades to mimick what a typical batch of  Karat Gold Scrap should actually yield.   The information input into the different user friendly fields is calculated according to the historical recovery data for each Karat grade and applied to the appropirate Refining Schedule for the volume of metal input.  The system defaults to the most recently posted 2nd London Gold Fix, however the price field is editable by the user to input any Gold Price they choose.

Do you loose money when metals prices drop?
Never.  The Mid-States trading department implements very strict risk management procedures utilizing basic hedging principles through the several different commodity market options available to us.  Every ounce of metal we purchase or committ to purchase is offset by the sale of an equivalent quantity or value on the various metal exchanges in the form of Contracts.  Thus, as markets flutuate both up and down so does the value of the offsetting “paper” that we’ve bought or sold on the exchcange.

What is the US Patriot Act?
In 2001 the US Congress implemented the US Patriot Act that requires non-law enforcement company’s and organizations classified as “Financial Instutitutions” by the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act  to establish and implement a thourough vetting Policy of all customer’s they have financial transactions with.  According to the “Act” dealers in Precious Metals and Precious Stones are considered to be inluded with Banks and the other more traditional types of finacial institutions .

Why do you need so much of my company and personal information before I do business with you?
Please be aware we are not requesting this information for any purpose other than to satisfy the requirements placed upon us by the US Treasury Department.  Classified as a “Financial Institution” according to the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act we’ve been obliged under penalty of law with the responsibility to screen and only to conduct business with persons or company’s that have been cooperative and open to sharing the personal and financial information that enables us, as part of this vetting process, to insure we are not knowingly or unknowingly assisting in Money Laundering that could potentially be used to help finance terrorism.

Why don’t you deal with the Public directly?
We will not deal with the public for two reasons.  First and formost is that we do not feel it’s appropriate to be in the business of competing against our core customers.
And lastly, we are not set up as, nor have any interest in operating as a Licesenced 2nd Hand Dealer.  Local Ordinance requirements often require tracking and reporting of purchases on each and every piece of  jewelry scrap receicved which would be virtually impossible for us to operate with the margins competition has forced us to.