I am a dentist and have some old gold crowns that I have recently taken out of patients mouths. At what point does it become profitable to send them in for refining.  Do I need to have 20-30 crowns before it makes sense? — Dr. Norton

It can be hard to judge how much precious metal is in dental gold scrap because so many different alloys are used in the industry. Typically dental gold alloys range in the 10 to 22 karat range with 16 karat gold being the most common.  A 10 karat crown would have 41.6% gold while a 22 karat crown would have 91.5% so there can be a big difference in value even for two crowns of the exact same weight.

Dentists also use a lot of silver-colored alloys for crowns and bridges that can have high precious metal content.   Despite their color, they may have a fairly sizeable proportion of gold or be made with other precious metals like platinum or palladium.  Unfortunately, without testing equipment, it is often difficult to tell the difference between these precious alloys and other “white” alloys that have no scrap value whatsoever.

Of course, the price of gold on the day your gold crowns are received for refining will also impact the value.

The last major variable is who you are going to sell  the scrap dental gold to.  If you sell it to the same company that is supplying you with other dental products, then they are probably just going to take a cut and pass the crowns to a precious metal refiner.    However, if you only have one or two, they may batch it with crowns and bridges from other dentists as many refiners will not accept small quantities.
If you work with us at Arch Enterprises, you do not need a minimum quantity of dental gold to receive payment. We will evaluate your items and pay you based on the weight and quality of the gold in the crowns. We have analytic equipment that can evaluate each piece individually for the gold, silver, platinum and palladium content. We pay 85% of the metal value back to you in a check in 2-3 business days.  We are endorsed by dental associations and have worked regularly with many dentists.

If you need some basic guidelines, let’s assume that the average crown weighs 2.5 grams or about .08 troy ounces (the value in which gold is traded) and that the price for the day is $1,000 per troy ounce.  Based on this, a

  • A 2.5 gram crown made of 10 karat alloy (41.6% gold) would be worth (.08 x.416 x 1,000) or $33.28 before refining costs of approximately 15%
  • A 2.5 gram crown made of 16 karat alloy (66.6% gold) would be worth (.08 x.666 x 1,000) or $53.28 before refining costs of approximately 15%
  • A 2.5 gram crown made of 22 karat alloy (91.5% gold) would be worth (.08 x.915 x 1,000) or $73.28 before refining costs of approximately 15%