I promise not to ask if you remember when the price of gold was fixed at $35 an ounce or when U.S. currency was tied to the gold standard (hint: The Gold Standard Act was passed on March 14, 1900, but later suspended). Things have changed drastically over the years, with gold now hovering around $1,800 per ounce.
Let’s turn to your jewelry box, shall we? Remember all that gold you bought in the 1980s when QVC and Home Shopping Channel were coming into their own? And when you could buy gold chains by the inch at county fairs and community swap meets?
All of those chains, bracelets, and earrings may now be broken, but they’re not junk. They’re not worth much as jewelry in their sorry state, but the gold content can be turned back into cash.
Before you haul off and send your scrap gold to a TV pitchman who promises to send you a check or agree to attend a “gold party” where the host says you can get cash instantly for your old gold, let me tell you about a conversation I had with Kevin Stevenson, owner of Johnson Jewelers in Bellflower, California.
First, let’s talk about value. Scrap jewelry is valued by the weight of its gold content. Pieces that are 10 karats will not be as valuable as 18 karats. A reputable jeweler can test the piece to determine its gold content, weigh it, and determine its value as scrap.
When talking “scrap,” jewelers don’t take into consideration beauty or functionality. If you have good pieces, don’t attempt to sell them as scrap. You’ll do better on eBay or Craigslist. However, if you have mismatched and broken pieces that are truly nothing more than junk jewelry to you, you should consider packing up all of the pieces and turning that gold into cash.
You should never mail scrap gold to a gold dealer, Stevenson says. That’s a rip-off just waiting to happen. Gold parties aren’t much better.
Instead, he suggests, take the time to have your scrap evaluated by more than one reputable jeweler. Take your scrap gold to three jewelers, asking each one to give you an offer.
Another option to receive an offer for your precious metal castoffs is to visit a local gold and silver dealer. It may be called a “coin shop.” These coin dealers are usually trained in numismatics. They sell bullion as well as collectable currency. The shop near where I live will buy anything made of precious metal—silver teapots, sterling flatware, commemorative coins. And they buy junk gold or silver jewelry.
Once you have determined the highest bid, don’t be afraid to haggle. These jewelers and coin dealers aren’t going to offer the going rate of gold; they will offer a significantly lower amount that will allow them to have the metal melted down so that it can be sold or reworked into new pieces of jewelry. Remember, jewelers and coin dealers are looking to make the best deal, too.
You will not get anywhere near $1,800 an ounce for the gold content in your scrap pieces. But you’ll get a lot more than you have right now, should you decide to leave all those broken pieces to languish in the back of your jewelry box.
Knowing how to get the best price for all your junk jewelry should make the prospect of cleaning out those drawers that much sweeter.
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at EverydayCheapskate.com/contact, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at Tips.EverydayCheapskate.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” Copyright 2020 Creators.com