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How I sold my gold jewelry

Don't be afraid of being scammed. Knowing what you have is half the battle.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 7, 2011 10:21AM

This guest post comes from Lindy at Minting Nickels.


Gold. It's kind of a big deal these days.


It used to be that gold jewelry was something that lived in your underwear drawer until the end of time. Now it seems, if you have it and you don't want it, why not sell it? Cash for gold! It's the new American dream.


When I started a project of selling my stuff to pay off debt, I immediately raided my dresser drawers to see what gold goodies were inside.(Do you have too much debt? Try MSN Money's calculator.)


I had a pair of 14k hoop earrings that were given to me by a relative when I was a teenager. The tiny hoops don't fit around my earlobes, so I've never worn them. I also had this 10k opal ring, and a 14k chain and pendant given to me by an old boyfriend.


You'd think this task of selling my gold would be an easy one, given the plethora of establishments on every street corner willing to buy it these days. But it wasn't, for one main reason: I didn't want to get milked.


You may have heard the stories: gold buyers making a killing by giving consumers way less than fair market value. No one likes the thought of getting taken. I know I certainly don't.


Unfortunately, researching the topic online didn't get me very far. Those gold buyers have the corner on search terms related to selling your gold, making it quite difficult to find reputable advice. Post continues after video with reputable advice from Suze Orman.

So I figured the best way to learn was by doing. Here's what I learned in my quest to sell gold without getting scammed.


Knowledge is king

You'll need to know three things before you begin:

  • The karat value of your gold.
  • Its weight (usually in grams).
  • The current market value of gold.

The karat value is usually stamped onto the gold itself, inside the band of a ring, or on the end cap of a bracelet or necklace. If you have a magnifying glass, you might be able to see it.


To find out the weight of your gold jewelry, a digital food scale might do the trick.


But if you don't want to go through the rigors of figuring out exactly the karats and weights of your pieces, do what I did, and take them to the pawn shop. Just be sure to wear your flak jacket.


You can find out the current gold value simply by doing an Internet search. I used the calculators on You can type in the weights and karats of your pieces, and they'll tell you the market value. They even have an iPhone app. Be sure to check it on the same day you're planning on selling because the price fluctuates from day to day (as I learn later on in this post).


What if your gold jewelry has stones? Most places will count the weight of your stones with your total gold weight, which might work to your advantage if your stones aren't valuable on their own. I did encounter a few gold buyers willing to remove stones free of charge if you want to keep them. Others charge a fee to remove them, which sort of defeats the purpose.


Your options for selling are many:

  • Retail gold buyers. That's pretty much all they do -- buy your gold.
  • Small independent jewelry stores. Sometimes they'll buy your jewelry, then turn it around and resell it. Other times they'll scrap it and use it for its gold value.
  • Large jewelry stores. The big boys have started playing the gold game too. Are you in the market for new jewelry? Sometimes you can trade in your old pieces to go toward the cost of something new.
  • EBay or Craigslist. You can either sell your pieces individually for what they are, if there's a market for them, or sell them collectively as "scrap gold." Do your research to find out if these are good options for your specific pieces.

How much can you expect to get from gold buyers and jewelry stores? A pawnshop offered me about 30% of the market value of gold. I've heard that retail gold buyers offer about the same. An independent jeweler offered me 40%.


Will these places negotiate? Most of the time, yes! If you walk in and they utter those magic words, "What were you hoping to get for this today?" that's your cue that they're ready to party. Negotiate away!


One buyer all but begged me to haggle with him. But I'd had a long day and was only in the "gathering information" phase, so I didn't partake in the fun (though looking back, I should have).


My advice: Try to talk them up to 70% or 80% of the gold market value. (You just checked it before you walked in the store, didn't you?) Go for the gold! Pun absolutely intended.


That being said, there are some places that will not negotiate at all. But it never hurts to ask.


The end of my story

The best offer I was given for my three pieces of jewelry was $120. That was from the independent jeweler who tried to get me to negotiate, so I possibly could have gotten more. But alas, I walked away with intentions of visiting a larger jeweler to see if the experience would be any different.


A few weeks later, I checked the price of gold again, and saw that it had gone down. But at this point, I was too impatient to wait for the market to go back up. So I trekked down to the larger jewelry store, promising myself I would haggle -- and I did!


They didn't haggle back. Party poopers. I knew I didn't want to invest any more time in this project, so I took their $100 check, and called it good.


Ironically, the value of gold spiked way back up by the close of the markets on that very day. And it's climbed higher since. Oh, well. At least I got $100 and learned some lessons along the way.


Final thoughts

Don't be afraid of being scammed. Knowing what you have is half the battle. Check out or ask around for reputable places that buy gold. Be ready to negotiate. Or not. You can always walk away if you don't like their offer, and there are a ton of other options. Have a little fun with it and don't worry too much about getting the best deal -- it's not the end of the world if you don't.


And finally, good luck!


More on Minting Nickels and MSN Money:

Sep 10, 2011 4:28AM
Probably the worst advice ever.  "Don't be afraid of being scammed."?  Are you kidding me?  There are hoards of people out there who will scam you if you don't know what you're doing!  
If your gold jewelry has precious stones, you might get more if you sell the whole piece.  The setting is the valuable part, as is the design.  Maybe the material would only cost the jeweler 100 bucks, but the work they do to create it will increase the value to 500 or more, depending on skill.  The buyer will tell you the market value of the materials and offer you 70 or 80 percent of that.  They're not necessarily scamming you, but get it appraised by someone who has no interest in buying or selling your jewelry if you want the truth, and don't sell nice jewelry for the price of the materials only.
If you have jewelry which doesn't fit, was clearly m****duced, doesn't have precious stones, isn't antique or handmade by a well-known artist, etc., you might want to send it to a refinery to get the value of the gold or silver.  I always go with Hauser and Miller when I'm working in the US, but in Germany there is ESK GmbH which is also reputable.  You might have to pay a fee to get it melted and analyzed, but then you can ask for the cash, or they'll send it back to you in a big block, or the equivalent in whichever karat you ask for.  So if you want a chunk of 24 karat gold for under your mattress as some form of paranoid security, ask them to send it to you instead of the cash.  24 karat is much easier to sell than jewelry, since it's material value on the market cannot be disputed by a wily jeweler.
FORGET the pawnshop!!! Got to a coin dealer! Thet list spot price daily and tell you upfront how much under spot they will pay.
Jan 31, 2013 3:07PM
I work for a very ethical firm in Santa Barbara Ca - I have worked in this establishment for 18 + yrs so I've seen gold through the markets since it was $269 an ounce. That is troy ounce by the way.  A competitive establishment in today's gold buyer market should pay you NO Less than 65% of the true melt value of your gold! Most start out at 75% if they are reputable and can go as high as 85-90% depending on quantity as it is a key factor. Reputable firms are obligated to hold this used gold for 30 days in the state of California- This is to insure that it is not stolen goods. The gold buyer must pay you on the spot but their money is "tied" up. Also the gold buyer cannot just send in your 3 gold chains for example. They must accumulate a large quantity of gold before it can be sent to an assayer for melt.  So if you have a large quantity to sell the buyer won't have to wait as long to send it in. Lastly assayers don't work for free. A gold buyer must pay for insured shipping, an assaying fee and they don't get 100% of the melt  which is why you won't ever get 100% gold value paid to you. NEVER take your gold to "hotel buyers" They will pay the least and are hoping that once you are there you'll go ahead and sell to them! "Chain" gold buying stores can be just as bad. I won't use this as a commercial for our store but you can always ask for Grace or Chris if you do your research and you will find us =)

Sep 11, 2011 9:41PM

You sold a pair of 14KT gold hoop earrings,

a 14KT gold pendant and 14KT gold chain,

and a 10KT opal ring,

all of them together for $100 ?


You have some nerve giving financial advice to other people,

you could have done much better on eBay or Craigslist.

Sep 10, 2011 1:27PM
Hi: Husband just cashed in 12 penny-weights of gold and it isn't worth the trouble as he got about 80% of what it was worth. Buyer said it was 21 carat. but my husband thought he should have been paid more. Oh well, live and learn. 
Sep 10, 2011 3:53PM
Does anyone know how much should you get for 18k, 14k or 10k by the gram?  If you have knowledge please post.  Thanks
Sep 10, 2011 4:30AM
m****duced.  Do they think I'm writing a bad word?
Sep 11, 2011 9:43PM

Oh sorry Lindy,

I meant to add,

you're an idiot.

Sep 7, 2011 7:06PM

Oops, I didn't notice the opal was synthetic - nevermind!


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