Gold has always had a special role in human commerce and culture. Somewhat like land, gold is a finite, precious commodity with stable long-term prices. As you’re about to find out, using your spare gold to generate extra cash isn’t a difficult thing to do, and can even be fun.

Think about it: people have been making a living by buying and selling gold since the dawn of civilization! If you have spare gold lying around that you no longer have a use for – such as broken jewelry that is too expensive to have fixed – it would be like leaving extra cash around, unused and forgotten.

Here’s how you too can capitalize on your little treasure trove.

First, sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper. Your first goal is to think about the gold in your possession – once you start thinking this way, you might realize you have gold in a lot of places you hadn’t originally considered.

Where might you find your gold? You’d be surprised. Many have extracted gold from broken jewelry, gold plates, electronics, and even teeth. Industrial equipment might make use of some precious metals, as well.

At this stage in the game, don’t be too discerning. Don’t leave out items just because there isn’t a “lot” of gold in them. Gold buyers are interested in finding gold, period. Besides, it’s not your job to appraise the gold already in your possession. Just include any small pieces of gold you can think of.

Then, go on your treasure hunt. Gather everything on your list, and then look a little more. See if there are objects in your possession that you had just plain forgotten about.

Remember: gather everything you can spare that you think might even have just a small amount of value. You might be surprised how it all adds up in the end.

Once you have all of your gold, bring it together and then store it in a safe, secure place before you send it off for appraisal.

Next, have your gold appraised. This is perhaps the most crucial step. While you weren’t discerning in your search for gold in step one, now you want to be as discerning as possible.

You want to make sure that the gold broker you find is upfront with you, offers you insurance any time the gold leaves your possession, and will give you an honest appraisal.

In plain English, choosing your appraiser means finding someone you can trust.

Avoid pawn shops. Not only will they often give you inaccurate appraisals, but they are often seeking larger profit margins. This means greatly undervaluing the gold in your possession for a quick turn-around.

There’s no way to really verify the credentials of a pawn shop. Needless to say, a pawn shop won’t have as much use for your small bits of gold as other brokers might.

It’s better to find an appraisal online, where you can view a Web site’s track record and verify each company’s credentials. You want to find someone with a reputation for honesty and quality service.

You might be asking – why would I send someone I haven’t met all of these precious metals? How are they more trustworthy?

The fact is, online brokers will offer free insured mailers and usually give you a free appraisal. They will then be able to offer you a check for your gold, often without any extra steps.

If you agree, you can let them keep the gold and you’re already done. If you disagree, your gold is already insured and you can trust that it will be returned to you.

The fact is, more people would gladly recycle their gold for cash if they really knew what kind of gold they’re leaving around. It’s simply a matter of gathering your gold, finding a trustworthy broker, and letting them take over from there.

Many people don’t take advantage of the potential cash their scrap gold can bring them. If you can, avoid this crucial mistake: don’t underestimate the value of gold in your home. Gold teeth and broken jewelry might not mean much to you, but you won’t know what you have in your possession until you get an appraisal.

Once you have an appraisal – and hopefully, an offer in hand – you can once again be discerning. For most people, the extra cash generated by selling their scrap gold is well worth the time it takes to have it appraised. Do you want to sell your gold to someone who has a better use for it?

Ultimately, it’s up to you to recycle your gold for cash. Remember: he who has the gold, makes the rules!