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Sell your gold jewelry for cash when you declutter

Updated on September 17, 2013

6 Easy Ways to Sell Your Old Gold Jewelry for Fast Cash

I was decluttering a chest of drawers in my bedroom and came across a gold ring and two gold bracelets that I never wear.

If I just put them back in the drawer, it would defeat the purpose of decluttering. So I put them in my "sell" pile, and started thinking about how to go about turning this unworn jewelry into cash.

I asked around my friends and did a bit of research, and found that there are six main ways to sell your gold jewelry items.

Here is what I found out about how a dealer works out what price he or she will offer you. I have also put together a list of the places to go with the standout pros and cons of each one.

The Need-to-Know Essentials About Selling Your Old Gold

How to Estimate What Your Old Gold is Worth Before You Leave the House

The first thing you need to know is that you should never, ever take the first offer that comes along. Shop around, and when you find one buyer who advertises "best price in town", don't take their word for it! Test their claim by going through the steps I have laid out here. When you know what you have to sell and you have worked out its value, and then you will know who really does have the best price in town.

Prices for secondhand gold are calculated on the international daily trade price. The people you deal with should be calculating their purchase offer based on TODAY'S gold price, not yesterday's or a week before.

Many dealers have today's prices listed on their websites. You can usually find three or four sites quite easily which list today's price per gram for 14 carat, 18 carat or 22 carat gold.

Weigh each item of your gold on your own kitchen scales before you go anywhere. Write down the item description and the weight, and have it with you if you are doing a face-to-face sales transaction. You will need scales which measure to at least 1 gram weight. Secondhand dealers use scales which weigh to the nearest .01gram at least.

Some dealers are unscrupulous and if you do not know the weight of your jewelry, they may fudge the weight calculations in their favour.

If 18 carat gold is around $40 a gram, an error of 5 grams on a bracelet or necklace will cost you $200!

So spend $10 or $15 on a gram scale that is small enough to carry with you when you see a gold buyer, and if there is a discrepancy between the weight they say and the weight your scales show, ask to see their scales.

If a dealer doesn't show you the weight of your gold on the scale, don't panic. It doesn't necessarily mean they are misrepresenting the weight.

Dealers scales are precise and delicate and should be calibrated daily. That means they may not want to move the scales by putting them up on the counter in front of you because then they have to recalibrate the scales for accuracy. But if the difference between your scales and theirs is significant, more than say 1.5 grams, go elsewhere.

In this case, ignorance is not bliss, it's costly!

The retail price you pay for any piece of jewelry takes into account the value of the work involved in creating the item. The secondhand sale price does not; it is about the weight and purity only.

If you have stones in your jewelry, a dealer can estimate the weight of the gold without the stones. Precious stones weigh very little, and some dealers will offer to remove the stones for you to keep. Others will simply accept the whole piece, and when the gold goes to their refiner, they take the stones out and sell them back to jewelers.

Get two quotes at least. As one gold buyer said to me, "Why should you trust me?" This is a good thing, you don't want to deal with someone who puts pressure on you to accept their first offer, or who gives you a "now or no deal" ultimatum.

Getting two quotes means you get to double check that a dealer is neither underweighing your jewelry nor underestimating the gold purity. It also gives you two price points so that if there is a major difference, you know something is not quite right.

Many buyers will advertise that they offer the best price, but it is only when you have two or three prices to compare that you will be able to ask a dealer to better your best offer.

But be aware that you need to get offers all on the same day, or get a dealer to write down their offer and guarantee its validity for 48 hours. Otherwise if the gold price dips on the international markets, the dealers' offers will go down to match the international trade price. This is only fair, as they don't control the market or the global price point, and they have to make a profit too.

One final Need-to-Know point: if you are selling more than one item, make an inventory list before you go anywhere. When you deal with a buyer or buyer's clerk face to face, let them see that you have a list. Against each item on your list, write down the weights they give you for each item, their assessment of the purity and how much money they will give you for it. If you decide to go elsewhere, it makes it much easier to compare offers.

Make sure that each item is returned to your sight after the buyer has assessed it. If you are dealing with a number of items, it is easy for one small piece to be withheld on the other side of the counter. Yes, it's theft, and yes, it does happen. If you decide not to sell to that dealer, make sure you check each item against your inventory list before you walk out.

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How pure is your gold, really? - How the Purity of the Gold Affects the Price

You can quickly identify the purity of the gold used to make a piece of jewelry by looking at the number stamp on the gold item.

24 carat gold is pure gold. Pure gold is very soft, and is generally considered too soft for jewelry.

Most gold jewelry is stamped with a number which identifies the percentage of pure gold in the item. Other metals such as copper, zinc, platinum, and silver are added to pure gold when it is processed into jewelry quality gold.

10 carat gold is stamped 417, meaning it is 41.7% pure gold.

14 carat gold is stamped 585, meaning it is 58.5% pure gold.

18 carat gold is stamped 750, meaning it is 75% pure gold.

21 carat gold is stamped 875, meaning it is 87.5% pure gold.

24 carat gold is stamped 9999, meaning it is 99.99% pure gold.

In the United States, nothing less than 10 carat can be marked as "gold jewelry"; 41.7% is the minimum legal blend to label an item as "gold". But in Europe, Asia and Australia, 9 carat gold is stamped 375, meaning it is 37.5% pure gold.

The price you can get for your jewelry will depend on how pure the gold is.

The purity is assessed firstly on the stamp, and then a reputable dealer will x-ray the gold item to double check that the stamp is accurate.

The X-ray gives an immediate digital readout of the percentages of the different metals which have been used to make the jewelry.

An item may be stamped 585, meaning it should be 14 carat gold, but the X-ray machine can pinpoint a fluctuation in the actual purity.

The necklace I mentioned earlier was stamped 375, meaning it was 9 carat gold. When it was X-rayed, the breakdown of the different metals showed it was nearly 11 carat, so I was offered a better price based on the real purity, not the lower purity indicated by the stamp.

You can roughly calculate the value of your scrap gold with a simple mathematical formula:

Price = (Grams weight X purity X gold price of the day) minus dealer's margin / markup / administration fees.

This formula is simplified - it doesn't take into consideration things like the troy ounce (gold is not measured in standard ounces) but if you ask the dealer how much they are paying per gram for the specific purity, e.g. 18 carat gold, then your formula is simply:

Price = Grams weight X gold price for 18 carat on the day

and this way you will be able to closely estimate the figure you should be offered.

Do you have old or broken jewelry that you could turn into cash?

Do you have old jewelry at home that you never wear?

How much does your gold weigh? - Don't get ripped off! Weigh your gold with accurate scales

Once you have an idea of the carat weight of the gold you want to sell, then next thing you need to do is weigh it yourself.

Jewelers use highly sensitive scales which weighs your jewelry down to the milligram. You don't need to be that precise, but if you know that your 10 carat gold necklace is 60 grams, then you can start to calculate how much money you can expect to sell it for.

American Weigh Scale AWS-100 Digital Pocket Scale, 100g X 0.01g Resolution
American Weigh Scale AWS-100 Digital Pocket Scale, 100g X 0.01g Resolution

This is all you need - a simple pocket sized digital scale which will accurately measure your gold before you go to the dealer.

 

Where to go to get a good price for your gold - You can sell gold online or with a face to face deal

This list is not comprehensive, but once you start looking at ways to sell your gold, these are the places you will find first.

  1. Local Pawn Shop

    Biggest Advantage: Quick and Easy

    Registered secondhand dealers can purchase gold and jewelry over the counter. Depending on local laws, you will usually need to provide at least one form of photo ID, and the dealer should have their secondhand dealers license on display.

    They usually pay for the gold weight only so if you have jewelry with precious stones you might be better with a different option, although some will negotiate a price based on the gold and stones value.

    Pawn shops are generally not a good option if you want a good price for your old gold. I found that when listings online offered a local price of $18.00 per gram for 9 carat gold, the local pawn shop said they paid between $9 and $11 per gram, depending on the gold price of the day. That's only about 50 to 60 percent, so in my case, I'd have got roughly half of the best price on offer.

  2. EBay

    Biggest Advantage: You control your reserve price and decide what price you are willing to sell for.

    With eBay, you can choose to sell on your terms, and if you have gold jewelry in very good condition and with accredited valuation that you can post as one of your photos, this can be a good option.

    The buyer wants to see as much of the item as they can, so use good photos - if your camera has a "macro" option (the little flower icon) then use that to get clear close up shots. Try using a nickel or a dollar bill for scale, so the purchaser can get a realistic idea of the size of the jewelry.

    Remember to blur any personal details on your valuation before posting it on eBay.

    To minimise the chance of something going wrong and to avoid negative feedback, add insurance and certified delivery to your postage charges. A genuine purchaser won't mind paying a few dollars extra for that peace of mind.

  3. Online Mail-in Gold Buyers

    Biggest Advantage: Online sales convenience.

    You give your address to the company through their online form and they send you a secure envelope. You put your jewelry in the envelope and send it away to the company.They assess your gold and email or call you with an offer for your items.You have a limited time in which to accept the offer, usually up to three days. If you do not accept the offer, they return your jewelry. If you accept, they make the payment. It is obligation free, so you are not required to accept the offer.

    That's the theory. The problem is that once you send your jewelry off in the mail, you have lost control of the transaction. There is very little you can do to get recompense if your jewelry comes back and a piece is missing, or if the whole lot gets lost in the mail.

    Obviously, you do need to exercise caution if you are considering sending valuable items away to any internet-based company. If you are determined to use a mail-in service, try contacting You can contact the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers to ask for the names of a reputable mail-in service.

    It's best to look for a place which has a store front operation as well as a mail-in service so you have a physical location to go to if anything goes wrong.

    Photograph your jewelry items and if possible, photograph their stamp numbers or hallmarks too, and write up an inventory list for yourself before you send anything. Check to see if your home and contents insurance covers your items in transit, or if you need to update your coverage to ensure these pieces are insured while being assessed.

    Do be critical and discriminating when assessing online reviews such as Google Reviews of these (or any!) businesses - reviews can be purchased through review farms or on sites like Fiverr.com.

    Most mail-in services advertise insurance cover up to a certain amount. Before you mail off your gold, be certain that the advertised amount covers what you think the gold is worth, and that if you refuse the purchase offer, the items will be returned by an insured delivery without additional cost to you.

    One thing to remember is that most mail-in services count on the convenience to the seller as a big factor. They know that once they have your gold, and you have an offer in your inbox, the odds are good that you will accept the offer just to save the hassle of getting your gold back and finding an alternate sales method.

    Despite advertising that they will pay you top dollar for your gold, mail-in services do not generally advertise their "Today's Price List" on their site, so you can't estimate in advance what their offer might be. They can offer around 90% of the gold value but many offer much, much lower returns.

  4. Cash for Gold Party

    Biggest Advantage: The Social Factor, or "How to make cash profit by throwing a party!"

    How would you like to throw a party and at the end of it, have a handful of cash? It sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

    Well, it can be very good and lots of fun, although once again, the prices offered may be lower than you'd get from a local gold dealer. You can organize the whole event with the help of the gold buying company - they will even supply the invitations for you.

    A dealer comes to your party with their scales and their x-ray equipment and will make an offer for any items you and your guests want to sell.

    The party host can walk away with an excellent bonus: they usually get 10% of the total sales made at the party.

    At party sales, you can expect to be offered a figure in the vicinity of 80% of the gold value.

  5. Shopping Mall Purchasing Booths:

    Biggest Advantage: Sell your scrap gold in the mall, then go shopping.

    Of course, the biggest advantage is also the biggest disadvantage - you get one chance to sell your old gold so you only have one chance to get the best price. But when there's new stock at Coach and you can see that stunning handbag that you simply must have ..... ah, temptation!

    These shopping mall outlets are all about convenience, and the trade-off is you lose financially in order to take advantage of that convenience. They need a sales person on hand every hour they are open, which can be 60-90 hours per week, and they have to make enough money to pay that person's wage, plus pay the cost of the rent on their mall space. So they have high overheads to begin with, and those costs are paid for by the difference between what they pay you for your gold, and what price they get when they sell it to the gold dealers or refiners. Their margin has to be pretty good to cover those costs and still make enough profit to stay in business.

    All of which means the price you are likely to get for your gold in a shopping mall booth is one of the lowest on offer. So while it's a handy option, you can do a lot better.

  6. Secondhand Specialist Gold Dealers:

    Biggest Advantage: Best price and an easy transaction

    In my research, this turned out to be the best place to get both a very good price and the convenience of immediate payment.

    It is a simple, across the counter transaction. You show them the items, they weigh each item individually, X-ray them to check the purity and calculate the price they can offer you. If you get one price from another dealer, you can often get a second dealer to match or beat the first.

    As a general precaution, present each item separately and make sure it is replaced on the counter when the clerk has weighed it and X-rayed it.

    When I got serious about selling at least one of my old gold jewelry items, I found five local gold buyers and I had done my research on today's gold prices using the advertised prices on these five gold buyers websites. I had worked out the price I expected for the heavier of my two bracelets based on the stamp, the grams and the highest advertised price, and the first offer was within $3 of my calculation. The variation was in the difference between my digital kitchen scales, which weighed the bracelet at 56 grams, and the dealer's scales, which weighed the bracelet at 55.6 grams.

    I found that if you know what you have to sell, you know its weight, purity and the day's price per gram, then selling your gold to a local gold buyer is the most efficient way of getting the best price for your jewelry.

Feedback Love: Did you find this lens informative?

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    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @Rangoon House: The dealer I went to purchased silver too. I suppose it depends on the dealer, but it can't hurt to ask.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Australia

      I did sell unwanted gold once and was very pleasantly surprised at the return. I wish there was something similar for unwanted silver?

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @Sojournstar Media: You can always get an offer, and not accept it. You'll get a better price from a face to face transaction, but make sure you have a list of each item, and ask the dealer exactly what he's willing to pay for each piece. Write that figure down on your list, and bring your own calculator and double check their calculations. If you are not comfortable with the deal, you can thank them for their time and leave, checking each item on your list is back in your possession before you go. I hope that when you decide to sell, you find someone you can do a very satisfactory deal with :)

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @lesliesinclair: I'm glad it's been informative. There's no perfect timing to selling, as three weeks after I sold mine, the price had dropped by a couple of dollars a gram. Now, it's about $3 higher than I was paid. But you might be surprised at how a few small pieces can add up.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I find your tips instructional for the day when I decide to sell. I'm just not sure what I have is worth much at all.

    • Sojournstar Media profile image

      Angela Hobbs 4 years ago from The TARDIS

      Thanks, I do have some gold I would like to sell, but have to admit I am wary and skeptical, and afraid of getting ripped off!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      I really don't know much about gold stuff! Well your lens is very informative especially people like me. Thanks for sharing :)

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @wjlambert lm: I am not a gold investor, so I can only tell you what I learned from the dealers I spoke to and from my own experience. With jewelry, part of the retail price is calculated on the artistry and work involved in creating the item as well as a percentage to cover the jeweler's costs and overheads. Since a secondhand gold buyer calculates the value only on the gold weight and purity, jewelry generally doesn't hold up well as an investment because the jeweler's margins are not considered.

      As an example, the 9 carat gold bracelet I sold when researching this article had been purchased over a decade ago in a 50% off RRP sale at a reputable jewelers. When I sold it, I got a few dollars more than I paid for it, but in percentage terms, it was only about .5%. That is a lot less than I would have made in compound interest if that money had been put in a long term bank deposit instead of buying a bracelet. Factoring in regular CPI, I lost money. So I could not call it a good investment, but I was pleased to get the price I did. I had worn the bracelet and enjoyed it for a while, but for the last few years it had been sitting untouched in a drawer.

      One dealer showed me a 2 kilogram bar of 24 carat gold bullion, worth about $100,000, and a silver bullion bar worth about $10,000, and I got to hold them both. It's startling how small a $100,000 gold bar is in real life!

    • wjlambert lm profile image

      wjlambert lm 4 years ago

      Personally I have only one piece of gold jewelry and I wear it because it represents the unity of my marriage. But I am curious to know whether gold is a good place to maintain the original investment? Had I some spare jewelry with gold in it, I'm not so sure I would part with it (unless as you noted, it was broken).