If You’re Selling Gold — What to Know

If you’re thinking now is the time to sell some of your gold jewelry, here are some top tips on what to know and do to get top dollar. It’s important to note that as gold prices recently hit a six-week low, amid expectation that the Federal Reserve is likely to continue incrementally increasing interest rates, some industry leaders expect gold prices to average lower this year, compared to last year.

Beware of unlicensed buyers. A Google search for “sell my gold,” or something similar, returns thousands of hits. Almost every jewelry store, pawn shop, and flea market in the country is now buying gold, not to mention online buyers, and many are unlicensed and uncertified. While many jewelry buyers are in fact legitimate, many more are not, especially if they only have an online presence.

Types of scams. One of the most common online scams is when a company asks a seller to mail them their valuables so they can give the seller an offer. As the seller waits to hear backfrom the buyer, the buyer claims they either never received the piece, or, after making an offer, they never return the piece and claim it was lost in the mail.

A second type of scam is when a buyer offers a price far below what the piece is actually worth. While this is an unfair business practice, it is really the fault of the seller if they agree to the offer. That is why it is so important to have an idea what your piece is worth new, as well as what it goes for in its existing condition.

Gold buying parties. Another gold buying scenario to be aware of is known as gold buying parties. These are gatherings or parties organized by a local sponsor. The sponsor invites their friends and family over to their house, where a “gold buyer” will appraise the guest’s pieces and offer cash on the spot. These buyers often pay far under what the pieces are actually worth, which is how they make a profit. The sponsors also usually get a cut of the sales. Again, know what your pieces are worth and understand what the arrangement is between the sponsor and buyer.

Advice for gold sellers.

Like any business, the reputation of pawn shops and jewelry stores differ from shop to shop. Some are more professional and offer better prices than others. Research multiple companies beforehand—ask plenty of questions and find out if they are a member of the National Pawnbrokers Association. Unless you know for certain that a company is legit, we recommend you do not mail your jewelry out of town or to an unknown source, as you may never see it again.

Instead, take your pieces to two or three local buyers and get them appraised. Make sure the shop is a member of the National Pawnbrokers Association, and its appraisers are certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

If you have multiple pieces, you may want to get individual offers on each piece as one buyer may be willing to pay more for some items than others.