TV, radio, and print ads make it look easy to get cash for gold jewellery. But, really, is it worth it to sell jewellery for its melt value or is there a better alternative? Do places that offer to buy gold for cash even come close to its market value?
I have a buddy that used to run one of those companies that buys gold like the ones you see on TV. Here's the deal...
1) If the jewelry isn't total junk, get it appraised. Making raw materials into jewelry obviously increases the value since you can't buy jewelry for the price of raw gold. In many cases it will be worth more as jewelry, but not always. Depends on the piece.
2) Those companies generally rely on the fact that people selling jewelry to a gold dealer are in a hurry to get cash and are very negotiable on what they will take for it. Depending on how predatory they are, you will probably get between 50 and 75% of the market rate. They make a living on the spread and people's need for quick cash. They usually resell it immediately to a 3rd party that actually melts it down and resells it.
So the short answer to your question is no, you won't get close to market value with these companies. You would do better if you didn't have to go through the middle man, but then those final buyers aren't generally the ones who have set up shop to deal with the general public.
I just came across an article from the CBC on this subject:
Here's one tip from the article, which echoes what others have said:
"The agency [Better Business Bureau in B.C.] suggests getting two or three appraisals from a jeweller or jewelry store before deciding to sell."
See the full article for the rest of the tips.