Make the most when you sell your gold

bargain.0823You’ve heard the buzz. Maybe you’ve even heard friends and family chattering about it. With the price of gold soaring to more than $1,900 per ounce Monday, selling your old jewelry is a way to get back some of that money the roller-coaster stock market’s been taking away.

But before you scrounge up all the gold jewelry you’re willing to “scrap” — sell purely for its gold content, by weight — hold on just a bit. I did my own test run to give you some tips on getting the best prices.

First, I rounded up a mix of 14- and 18-karat jewelry and took it to three different types of places: a “we buy gold” business, a jewelry store and an antique market’s gold and coin dealer. Each gave me a weight total for my gold and how much money I could expect to get for it. And their quotes in each category varied drastically. I didn’t identify myself as a reporter to ensure the businesses wouldn’t give me “special” pricing — which could give you overly optimistic expectations.

If you do good prep work, you can make some serious cash. But if you don’t know how much your gold is worth, and that includes how much it weighs, you’re more likely to get less than what you deserve.

(Don’t even consider “gold parties,” which are akin to the old-school Tupperware parties. They sound like fun, but you’ll pay a premium to the hosts and make much less than you would elsewhere.)

So gather up those broken chains, earrings and bracelets you don’t wear anymore and take these steps to become an informed gold seller:

1. Inspect. You’ll need a jeweler’s loupe ($5.31 on Amazon.com) to inspect your jewelry. Pay attention to clasps and the inside of rings, looking for markings that indicate the gold content — 14 karat or .585 (585 parts per thousand gold), 18 karat or .750. Use an online search engine – seriously — to identify any unfamiliar stamps. You may also want to buy a gold test kit ($12.99 on Amazon), especially if your pieces are unmarked.

2. Remove. Detach any stones or non-gold parts from the jewelry. If you don’t, a dealer will have to estimate the actual weight of gold content, and the guessing will likely not be in your favor.

3. Weigh. If you don’t have a small-item scale — like for weighing food portions — borrow or purchase one, as long as it measures in grams or pennyweights ($6.59 on Amazon). Separate your pieces into batches based on gold quality (14, 18 or 24 karat) and weigh.

4. Calculate. Use an online calculator to evaluate the full market value of each metal. (I found a link to this one from Clark Howard’s website.) Understand this is a 100 percent valuation — and any middleman who buys from you has to make some money when reselling. Professional dealers, who regularly sell in volume, usually get about 90 percent, while 70 to 80 percent is about the maximum you’ll see as an individual seller.

5. Research. Call around to ask businesses what percentage they pay (70 percent of the full price? 65 percent?). My experience was that people who wouldn’t tell me — even a store that claimed it “paid the highest prices in Georgia” — actually offered the lowest price. Buyers who pay more usually have no problem disclosing their percentage.

Now that you’ve educated yourself, you can do some shopping in person. I had confidence oozing out my pores when I walked into each store because I knew what I had. It’s kind of like when you’ve done the research to buy a new car and sell your old one. 

(A quick word about safety: It’s something you need to consider if you’re lugging around hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of precious metals. For instance, I took an associate of mine with me as a precaution.)

The stash I took to the three business weighed, according to my scale, 25.9 total grams — the 14-karat items totaling 18.2 grams; the 18-karat ones weighing 7.7 grams — for a full market value of $974.18. Here’s what I found:

“We buy gold” stores

These stores and pawn shops will probably offer you the least amount of money.

The gold-buying shop I visited initially offered me a paltry $321.55 (including a supposed 20 percent internet discount) – about 33 percent of what I knew my assortment was worth at its current full price. When I didn’t take the bait and told the employee I was doing some comparison shopping, she hit me with a tell-tale question: “How much are you trying to make?”

I hedged on an exact amount, saying a dealer friend of mine — who sells in higher volume and usually gets 90 percent of the true value — might be able to lump my pieces in with hers.

The employee then told me because I had an 18-karat piece – a rarity for that store – she would call a manager to see if they could make me a better offer (see, it’s exactly like buying a car). Afterward she offered me the “employee discount,” a price of almost $200 more than the original offer.

But the most telling part of the visit was how much the business said my jewelry weighed: almost 10 grams less than what I — and the next two businesses — figured.

Jewelry weigh-in: 16.8 grams. Offer: $515. Percent of total value: 52.9.

Jewelers

Jewelry stores tend to offer more than “we buy gold” stores, although sometimes the payout is in the form of a store credit, so ask ahead of time. This can be a great way to recycle your pieces if you’re simply looking to update your collection.

The jeweler I visited pays by check and quoted me 70 percent over the phone. Upon arrival she immediately tested each piece and completed the entire process in less than 15 minutes — a third of the time I spent in the gold-buying store.

Her offer was a hair under what was quoted, but it was hassle-free.

Jewelry weigh-in: 26.2 grams. Offer: $660. Percent of total value: 67.8.

Antique market dealers

A gold and coin dealer had been recommended to me by my dealer friend, and it turns out she knew what she was talking about. The antique market dealer was also efficient about testing for karats and offered me the best price – more than $250 than the we-buy-gold shop. His offer, also hassle-free, was almost 80 percent of the true value of the gold.

Jewelry weigh-in: 26 grams. Offer: $766. Percent of total value: 78.6.

The moral of the story? Research should be the gold standard when selling your precious metals.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

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18 comments Add your comment

Happy Seller

August 23rd, 2011
6:14 am

I just sold my gold and did 3 comparisons as well. Got the best deal from my local jeweler who does not advertise or really market the gold buying business. A”We buy gold” type place quoted 15% of value (and I was shooting for about 70% – 80% of market value price) but immediately doubled it when I questioned. Also found out the weight quoted was inaccurate. Told her exactly what I wanted and she wouldn’t meet it. Sold it later that day for price I had in mind! Be careful people!

Sold mine on....

August 23rd, 2011
7:09 am

Ebay and received a lot more than any store I went to. I had 30+ bids also for about 30 grams. I got about $800

The We buy Gold stores are a SCAM

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

goebay4sure

August 23rd, 2011
7:32 am

If you go on ebay you cann get much more! Now they will take their ebay fees and when you get paid via paypal,paypal will take a fee but it still beats all of the others! Then,just transfer your money from your paypal account to your bank account.Make sure when you ship your gold to add a tracking #,That way they can’t say they never received it.Buyers in NJ,Many buyers in NJ for some reason??? They seem to pay the most….Good Luck!

Jessamine

August 23rd, 2011
7:34 am

Silver is good to sell now too!! I just sold a bunch of old silver (flatware, coins, scrap jewelry) to Atlanta Gold and Coin Buyers and I actually got more than I thought I was going to. No, this is not an ad. I really sold to them. They have their prices on their web site and I really enjoyed working with Tony Davis. Their shop in Suwanee but he met me in Midtown and paid in cash right there. I had an idea of what I thought I was going to get before going in (I have a food scale that measures in grams or ounces). BTW, ounces are not the same as troy ounces. According to a conversion I just looked up on Google it’s 1 Troy Ounce = 1.09714286 Ounces, so if you use ounces on a food scale you may come up with fewer actual “troy” ounces than you’re expecting.

goebay4sure

August 23rd, 2011
7:44 am

Use this and weigh your gold on your scale as DWT.When listing it on ebay make sure you use the word scrap,That word will get you the attention you want and the buyers.something like,14k gold pendant wear or scrap 8.5 dwt….Trust me you will start getting bids so fast you can’t keep up! Here is the link to use http://dendritics.com/scales/metal-calc.asp?WeightU=2.45&Units=dwt&Alloy=14K&PrOzt=&CurrencyN=USD&Markup=0

Getting worse

August 23rd, 2011
8:10 am

The price of both gold and silver are going to be going WAY up from here. Most folks are predicting over $5000 per ounce for gold and maybe even $500 an ounce for silver. The government is printing money faster than anyone can keep track of. That is what is causing the values to rise. When money looses its value, people fall back on things like gold and silver for financial security.

Sell if you want to, but if you don’t need to get some money (loss of job, etc.) then hang on to it. It may well be the only truly valuable thing you own once the dollar collapses.

mary

August 23rd, 2011
9:28 am

Lauren, can you tell us the name of the antique market dealer? If not, any suggestions on a good place to sell sterling silver flatware?

[...] Continue reading here: How to sell your gold — and make the most money | Atlanta Bargain … [...]

Terry

August 23rd, 2011
12:40 pm

People, please remember that all scales used should be certified as “legal for trade” . Make whom ever you are dealing with show you that certification. I noticed in the article that Lauren got three diferent weights. Right now, today, underweighing by 1 gram will cost you right at $60.00 for pure 24k gold.

Steve

August 23rd, 2011
10:12 pm

I am the owner of a ‘Gold Buying’ Store. Our base price for a minimal sale would be between 65-70%. For a moderate quantity (30 grams) we would give you 75%. For a more than moderate quantity (45+ grams) we are at 80%. These are our upfront offers without being prodded. We would never offer below 65% for any precious metal. Moreover, we are more than happy to educate the customer on what we are doing, how we are calculating, how to calculate the value of the gold content of their jewelry and show the results of our testing. We never remove the item from the view of our customer. Everything is done in order to make our customers feel comfortable that they understand the process and are receiving true value for their asset. It is for this reason that very few people that want to sell walk out without selling. AND, a high portion of those who do, return to us to sell.
I did find a few inaccuracies in this article as well as some facts not mentioned. For example, 14K gold, though supposed to be .583, or 58.3% gold content, is rarely more than 56% gold. The same holds for 18K: it is rarely 75%,even when stamped 750, or 18K, and 10K is rarely 41.7%.
In addition, the calculator referenced is inaccurate.

whereisMYcut

August 24th, 2011
6:05 am

The calculator linked above folks is NOT inaccurate! Use it and try the ebay way,You will be pleased and get more for your money.BUT,Always check around first.Ebay just gives you MANY other buyers! I have sold gold on ebay and NOT one buyer has said anything about gold content! When you walk into these places that is one thing they try to keep bringing up.Watch out for the smoke and mirrors talk and junk fees.

Steve

August 24th, 2011
8:34 am

no fee. Just the CASH

Lauren Davidson

August 24th, 2011
10:36 am

Hi, all!

The dealer from the antique show was Village Coins from Lakewood 400 Antiques Market. (Although there are a couple of gold buyers up there, so it’s worth it to shop both of them.) The market occurs every third Friday of the month, and it’s $3 to park in their lot.

Linda

August 24th, 2011
11:19 am

I sold my gold jewelry yesterday and was very comfortable with the store I dealt with on Cobb Pkwy in Kennesaw. The gentleman I dealt with explained exactly how much it weighed and I saw with my own eyes how he determined what karat my jewelry was. He even told me how much gold was at that moment and how much he would give me and how much he would make on the transaction. I realized he has overhead and is allowed to make a profit. At that point it was up to me to decide if I wanted to sell my jewelry to him. I never felt any pressure. I sold the gold, got my money in cash and walked out thinking that it was a good experience and that I was leaving with the right amount of money in my pocket.

Dr. Jewels

August 24th, 2011
2:39 pm

Lauren, are you sure the first place you shopped offered you the weight in grams? I have shopped different places before and I know many places weigh in grams, penny weights (DWTS) and troy ounces (OZT). If you did the conversion of grams to dwts it looks like they weighed your collection in dwts. Most business regardless of if it is a pawn shop, jeweler, or a ‘We Buy Gold’ establishment are required by the Department of Agriculture to have their scales appropriately calibrated in order to do business. I think its important to know the different ways people do business and just because a customer is unaware of different units of measure does not mean the business is trying to ‘scam’ people.

Lauren Davidson

August 24th, 2011
3:00 pm

Hi, Dr. Jewels. Unfortunately, the buyer I visited simply quoted me a low weight (10.8 DWT). But you raise a great point — someone might weigh your collection in pennyweights or something other than what you used at home, so it’s important to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

Lauren Davidson

August 29th, 2011
11:33 am

Also, I just clarified this via email for a reader: The antique dealer I used had no professional or personal association with the gold dealer referenced. (In fact, my gold dealer friend didn’t even know the antique dealer’s name. She had just seen his booth and thought it might be a good place to begin.)

I had originally not posted the names of any of the businesses in my column, but I had such a high volume of requests for the name of the antique dealer that I posted it as a service to our readers.