Looking for an inflation-busting place to stash your wealth? You could do a lot worse than your own back teeth.
With uncertainty hanging over the global economy and fears of inflation driving investors towards safe havens like gold, a growing trade in precious metals extracted from dental products is delivering a boost to traders in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter.
Gold prices hit a record high earlier this year, meaning old fillings, bridgework, crowns, implants and even dentures are now more valuable than ever.
Firms like Scrap Gold UK, based on Spencer Street in the Jewellery Quarter, are actively targeting dental gold and precious metals to melt down and sell on.
The company’s owner Paul Marcus said the firm was processing around 1kg a month of gold and other precious metal from dental work.
“It’s an area we’re looking to target specifically,” he said. “When dentists take out fillings, some of them contain precious metals like palladium or platinum – and anything that contains a precious metal we’re interesting in buying.”
He said the firm’s appeals to members of the public for their old gold leads to some interesting packages coming through the letterbox.
“We get all sorts of peculiar things coming through the post – things like dentures.
“We have to pull them apart and see what we’ve got. We analyse them for precious metals and we will pay them accordingly.”
Mr Marcus said the economic downturn had brought about a growing awareness that old dental work could be converted into cash.
“People are more aware now that the teeth they have got in the drawer have got value.”
Other Jewellery Quarter firms are benefiting from the same phenomenon.
Michael White of Lois Jewellery said the company also paid out for gold extracted from dental work to turn into gold bars. The work posed its own particular challenges, he said.
“We get sent in the gold teeth – sometimes with the teeth still attached. You just have to hit them with a hammer,” he said.
Despite the traditional summer lull weighing down prices at the moment, Mr Marcus predicted the global economic situation would mean the market for scrap gold would keep growing.
“Although the summer is traditionally a low point, gold prices keep hitting new records,” he said.
“Come the beginning of autumn, prices will soon rise.
‘‘A couple of months ago prices where the highest they have ever been in the history of gold. Over the coming months the gold price is anticipated to reach $1,300 to $1,400 an ounce.
“It’s going up and up because of all the uncertainty globally and because quantitative easing is pushing inflation.”