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In my family we have some gold-based jewelry that we want to sell.

Not actually needing to sell it, we can afford to look around for a buyer.

However, I don't know anything about this sort of thing and simply looked on the Internet for local (to my family's home) gold buyers. Obviously this is not a great strategy to find trustworthy people.

I know, for example, how to determine whether a given computer store is good or bad. What is a good method to determine if a gold buyer is OK to sell to?

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When you buy gold jewelry, you are paying the cost of the gold plus the cost of the workmanship. When you sell it, typically to a jeweler, you will typically get only the cost of the gold (weight times current gold price) because the jeweler will likely melt down the item and create new items using the gold that you sold. Exceptions might occur if the jewelry is an antique with provenance that the jeweler can sell as is, or is 18 carat or 22 carat gold instead of the 14 carat gold commonly used in the US. I suggest looking for local jewelers rather than "gold buyers" with only an IP address. –  Dilip Sarwate May 10 '12 at 12:06
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Duplicate of money.stackexchange.com/questions/2255/… ? –  Chris W. Rea May 10 '12 at 12:20
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@ChrisW.Rea This question might be slightly different in that the OP is interested in finding a buyer as opposed to an appraiser. An appraiser might say "This piece is worth $2000"if he is asked to appraise a piece, but give a smaller number if he is also in the business of buying and selling jewelry and is asked "For how much are you willing to buy this item from me?" –  Dilip Sarwate May 10 '12 at 13:14
    
Local jewelers might be a good idea... Ta. –  Andrew J. Brehm May 10 '12 at 13:22
    
@DilipSarwate - no, this is really a duplicate. As with anything being appraised for sale, you simple don't sell to the person who is appraising it. Standards groups like the answer linked have ethics regarding this as well. –  MrChrister Jul 7 '12 at 21:36
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2 Answers

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If the bulk of the worth is in the metal, it matters little which local buyer you use.

The price of the metal is based on the weight. So take it to a couple of places and get consensus on what it weighs. Then you are negotiating on the percent of the full worth they will give you. They have to give you less then full value so they make a profit.

Try different types of places :jewelers who make their own jewelery, jewelers who don't make their own jewelery, pawn shops, and popup "we buy gold" places.

Because you are trying to find the best price for an item that has no stable price point, once you find a person to sell to you are just waiting for the moment you believe the gold has it a local high. If you wait too long you may have to resurvey the buyers to see if the situation has changed.

I would not suggest ones where you have to mail in the item to get it appraised: there are risks in shipping, and the time lag involved will tend to lock you in to completing the transaction, even if you are not 100% comfortable with the price.

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If you have a reasonable amount of jewelry to sell, I suggest investing in a good scale that weighs in troy ounces. These are available on Ebay at very good prices (less than $20).

Troy ounces are the units used in gold trading, not the usual ounces we use when buying fruits and vegetables.

Also remember that most jewelry is not pure gold. Pure gold is rated as 24 karats. Most jewelry sold in the US is 14 karat so when you weigh the piece, multiply that weight by 14/24 or 0.583. Similar factors apply if the jewelry is 18 karat (0.750) or any other value. Once you have done that, look at the latest gold price and calculate the value of your jewelry using the weights, the karat factor, and the gold price.

Now you have the current value of your jewelry. Unfortunately, all gold buying merchants will only pay a fraction of that value since they are in business to make money. You should go to at least 3 stores and have each of them give you a price that they will pay and the weight they have determined from their own scales. Then you can compare the weights and the prices.

You can sell to the highest bidder, keep looking, or wait for gold to rise in price, but at least you will be in a better position to know how much your jewelry is worth.

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The value of jewelry is often far more than the value of the metal and materials that it is made of. I think the poster would be wise to sell jewelry, not metal. –  MrChrister Jul 7 '12 at 21:37
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I disagree. Most jewelry is heavily marked up when sold and it is very difficult to recover the original amount unless it is a very special one-of-a-kind piece or was owned by a famous person. That is why there are so many storefronts buying gold jewelry for the gold content only. –  Barry Schwartz Jul 8 '12 at 1:18
    
While it is hard to get the original amount, it still has a good chance or being worth more. Storefronts are buying gold because of the large markup they can make. I don't see those signs to buy gold in jewelry shops, I see those signs in shady places and bus stops. –  MrChrister Jul 8 '12 at 16:55
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