Spring is here, and many of us are in “cleaning” mode. If you’re in need of cash, you may want to consider cleaning out your jewelry box, and selling or pawning some gold, silver, or diamond jewelry. But that’s not all jewelers are interested in. Read on to find out all that you can sell or pawn, and what to know before you do.

In demand items to sell or pawn

Pawn shops are known for selling and pawning a wide array of items, from guitars to gold necklaces, but there are certain items which generally demand higher estimate prices; given the bullish market on precious metals, gold in any form — coins, necklaces, bracelets, rings, even dental gold — carry the highest value. That old, unused sterling silver flatware set is also likely to earn you some nice cash. Platinum and loose diamonds are also usually on the higher side, depending on weight and condition. Other items to consider selling or pawning are watches (especially Swiss), certain gemstones, estate jewelry, antiques, and heirloom jewelry. Of course, the estimate price will depend on the condition and market value of a given item.

Know how a pawn loan works

If you’re thinking of pawning an item instead of selling it, here’s how a pawn loan works. When you bring in a piece of jewelry or other item to the pawn shop, the property is appraised by a professional appraiser. The appraiser then gives you a price for your item, the interest rate on the loan and other terms and conditions of the loan.

In the case of coins and jewelry, the value is based on standardized industry factors, such as karat weight, rarity and condition. The pawnbroker will then offer a fixed-rate loan based on the agreed upon value, for a period of time, usually 30 days.

If you agree to the price and terms of the loan, you’ll receive cash in the amount of the agreed upon loan. The item then becomes collateral against the loan. You’ll receive a pawn ticket with your name and address, a description of the pawned item, the loan amount and the maturity date. The local police will also get a copy of the receipt. Pawn shops vary, but most pawn loans are two or three months, along with a grace period. Once the loan, plus any interest is paid back, you’ll receive your item back.

Find the right pawn shop

Like any business, pawn shops differ from shop to shop. Some specialize in high end items, while others tend to offer better loan prices. Do your due diligence before choosing to do business with a pawn shop. Integrity and professionalism are of the utmost importance — the highest loan price doesn’t necessarily make the best deal.

It’s a good sign when a shop is a member of the National Pawnbrokers Association, and its appraisers are educated by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones, and pearls. Do some research ahead of time, ask plenty of questions and make sure you agree to the appraisal estimate, loan price and terms and conditions of the loan before agreeing to the loan.

Make sure your item sparkles

Once you know what you’re going to sell or pawn, it’s important that your pieces look as pristine as possible. Before cleaning, it’s important to know that different precious metals and gemstones require different cleaning techniques, so be sure to research and follow the instructions for the type of jewelry you want to clean. If you have a gold or silver piece with a gemstone, follow the cleaning instructions for the gemstones, not the metal, as gemstones are more delicate.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the setting of your piece is secure and well fastened, so you don’t damage or lose a valuable gemstone during cleaning.
  • Use a soft, lint-free jewelry cloth or light cotton cloth to remove dust or other contaminants from the piece, as rougher materials may cause light scratching during cleaning.
  • Use a mild detergent — don’t use any harsh, abrasive cleaners such as chlorine and ammonia, especially on opaque gemstones.
  • Avoid using tweezers, pins or other sharp objects to remove dirt and grime, as they may damage the stone or setting.
  • Do not clean your jewelry over a sink, as a stone could come loose and fall into the pipe.

Also, if you have an expensive and valuable piece, consider having a professional clean it to avoid damage.

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