7 Golden Rules for Selling Your Fine Jewelry

As the price of gold soars, there’s no shortage of businesses offering to turn your treasures into cash. If you’re thinking of selling your gold jewelry, graduate gemologists Craig Wright and Kevin Adkins offer these seven tips to help you make sure you’re getting a fair price.

1. Stick to Reputable Dealers

The gold rush has attracted some unlikely buyers. In today’s exuberant market, you can sell gold at furniture stores, car dealerships, grocery markets and even gold parties at a friend’s house. “When you see so many people coming out of the woodwork, you know many are newcomers looking for a quick buck,” warns Wright.

Stick with established, reputable dealers. Look for gemologists listed on the American Gem Society website, read online reviews and check with the Better Business Bureau.

 You need to shop around for a gold buyer the same as you would when buying a car or home to make sure you are getting fair value,” adds Adkins

 2. Go In with Reasonable Expectations

Pricing your gold is a little trickier than you might think. If you have a 3-ounce gold necklace, for example, you can’t simply multiply the current per-ounce price of gold by three.

That’s because the quoted price is for pure gold. The value of your jewelry depends on just how pure it is. To figure that, divide the number of karats by 24. For example, 12-karat gold is 50% pure and would only have a top-line value of half its gold weight.

The karat purity is usually stamped somewhere on the jewelry, such as 12k or 18k. Jewelry bought overseas may instead be stamped with a number indicating its purity: Instead of 18k, it may read 750, indicating 75% purity.

Realize that whoever is buying your gold needs to make a profit, too. “Generally, businesses buying gold from the public will sell it to refiners for about 90% or more of its scrap value. To profit, they have to give you less than what they get,” explains Wright.

3. Shop Around

The more sellers you talk to, the greater your chance of getting a better price.

As a first step, call ahead and ask how much a business is currently paying per gram of gold. That’s a quick way to narrow the field and save time and hassle.

Once you’re down to two or three competitive buyers, bring your piece to them to get a firm offer. When you’re at the store, take an active and engaged role. Watch the buyer weigh it, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Take special caution if you’re selling gold watches. “To weigh it, buyers will need to remove the movement and the crystal. They may charge you for that. If you change your mind, you could be stuck with a broken crystal or a poorly reassembled watch,” says Wright.

4. Determine If It’s Worth More Than Its Weight

Before condemning fine jewelry to a fiery fate, consider the possibility that it may have value above and beyond its gold content.

It’s rare, but if you have a piece that’s very old, say 100 years, or was made by Fabergé or Tiffany & Co. and you have the authenticity papers to prove it, it may command a higher price from a collector than it’s worth melted down,” says Wright.

Also, Adkins notes, jewelry with filigree, art deco or older mountings are sought by antique jewelry dealers. If the jewelry you are thinking about selling has these types of settings, you should first check with antique jewelry dealers. They could pay substantially more for the pieces.

5. Don’t Give Away Your Gems

If your jewelry has stones, find out if the buyer will include them in the value of the gold or remove them gently and return them to you. The stones in most cases have only a small value to the buyer but may have sentimental value to you, says Adkins.

Don’t let buyers tell you they shouldn’t factor into the price because it’s not worth the labor cost to remove them.

In many cases, Wright says gold refiners will separate those gems and send them right back to the business that bought your gold, which will turn around and sell them to someone else. If a buyer pretends that isn’t the case, move on to the next one.

6. Ask About Guarantees

Some firms may guarantee your satisfaction with their price and let you reverse the transaction within seven to 10 days. However, those guarantees may come at a cost.

Since the price of gold moves so fast, most buyers want to get your gold to the refiner as soon as possible. If they have to hold it for a week, they may offer a lower price or charge a fee to give themselves a bigger cushion against price changes.

7. Use Extra Caution If Selling by Mail

Some companies buy gold by mail from across the country. Steer clear of those that automatically send you a check without giving you the option to accept or reject their offer. And if you do ship your gold, insure the package and use a service that tracks delivery and confirms the receipt of your shipment.

If you’re selling your jewelry on a website, such as Craigslist or eBay, Adkins says to make sure you receive your payment and that it clears your bank before shipping any item.

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