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Get Top Dollar for your Gold!

In the past year I’ve been asked for my opinion about the ads in newspapers, magazines and TV (internet buyers, national TV buyers, local pawnshops, jewelers and people giving gold parties) soliciting your precious metal jewelry primarily gold and silver for cash. Having founded   Precious Metals Of Arizona Recycling Corp. a gold and silver refinery in 1979, I felt qualified to answer their questions.

I told them there’s basically nothing wrong with these solicitations as long as these buyers are giving you a fair price for your gold. That’s to say you need to know the approximate value of your gold and here’s the rest of the story. There is no transparency for the seller from the precious metals buyers you see on TV and on the internet. That is to say you do not know how much value (an estimate) you will receive for your items when you send them to the buyer via their “Insured Free Mailer”. If you decide not to sell your items most of the buyers will return your jewelry (there’s no guarantee) but you have to notify them within a specific time period and it’ll take sometime to get your gold returned.

Again to make a rational decision on selling your gold you need to determine its market value and that is where the rub is for both seller and buyer.

Seller: You need to know how much value you are holding in your hand.  Here’s how: look for the “karat = k or kt” on the inside of rings or on the body of the item. Is it 10k, 14k or 18k these are the normal karats sold in the US. Ok, what do these mean? 10k means the item is 41.6% gold, 14k is 58.3% gold and 18k is 75% gold. For more information about karats browse to Carat or Karat (purity) and The Caratage (Karatage) System For Gold Jewelry. Now you need to know the weight of your gold in grams. Precious metals are weighed by the troy system which means grams (g), pennyweight (dwt) (1.555g = 1dwt) and troy ounces (TrOz) are used.  (1 TrOz = 31.104 g = 20 dwt)  To weigh in grams or troy ounces go to Harbor Freight and pickup a  scale for $19.99. or you can use a mail scale which weighs in ounces but this ounce is smaller than a troy ounce. This ounce is called an avoirdupois ounce and is 28.35 grams which is smaller than a troy ounce at 31.104 grams. To convert avoirdupois ounce to troy ounce multiple avoirdupois ounces by .91 which will give you approximate troy ounces.

The price of karat gold is determined by the “current price of gold”  and you will be quoted a price in dollars per gram. How much value do I have in 51.2 g of 14k gold?  Dollar Value  = weight (grams) X dollars per gram for 14k. Example: Dollar Value = 51.2g of 14k X  $13.20/g = $675.84.   We publish daily karat gold prices  $ per gram for 10k to 24k giving you a perspective of value

Sellers must be aware that that their gold might have questionable karat markings or be of inferior quality and the buyer may have to verify the gold content.

If you send your gold through the mail you do not know if your weight will agree with the buyers and you do not know how much the buyer is paying for a gram of karat gold until they notify you about your gold or send you a check (and you probably still won't what you were paid per gram) and that’s to later. This is what I meant about the lack of transparency. You can ask for your items back if the quote doesn’t agree with your estimate but this may take a few weeks.

If you have stones or diamonds in your pieces it is a good idea to have them removed as it just complicates the weighing process. Also have the stones or diamonds tested to see if they are genuine and their value. Try your local jewelers but be sure to get at least two different appraisals.

Seller and Buyer: There’s also gold filled jewelry which can be mistaken for karat gold. Gold filled jewelry have hallmarks such as 1/20 12k GF.  By definition, the minimum layer of karat gold in an item stamped GF must equal at least 1/20 the weight of the total item. 1/20 12kt GF is the most common stamp you will find on gold-filled jewelry. 10kt and 14kt are also common karatages (kt =k). If you had 10 lbs. of gold filled 1/20 12kt GF it would have a total worth approximately of $340.00 per lb. or $3400/10 lbs. (@ $933 gold) so collect and save that gold filled jewelry (We can process it for you).

Buyer: When you buy precious metals the weight is usually in grams and the karat or percent gold must be determined. Now here’s the rub for the buyer, gold items marked 14k may not be 58.3% gold (14k). A lot of the gold jewelry manufactured outside of the US will be marked as 14k but will actually be only 6k to 10k.

Now there is this tolerance factor for US manufacturers. The Federal Trade Commission says that an article hallmarked as 10k,14k or 18k has to be  + or -  ½ of a karat or 2.09% of the actual 41.7% (ranges from 39.61% gold to 43.79% gold) for 10k and likewise for 14k and 18k.

Many times a shipment may have several items not marked with karat hallmarks so the karat has to be determined by alternate methods such as gold testers, X-Ray or assayed.

Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and all sterling is hallmarked “Sterling” or “925”. Older/custom/Indian  jewelry can be made out of coin silver which is 90% pure.

Sterling scrap from silversmiths will not be marked as sterling but is 92.5% pure and is usually bought for less. Sometimes your silver may need to be melted and assayed for silver content.   

Summary:

  1. Value is based on the weight and purity of gold alone – precious stones do not make a difference. Remember, payments are based on the scrap or melt value, not the sentimental value of the item.
  2. The price of gold changes all the time. The value you expect now could change by the time the company gets your jewelry or issues a check. Keep an eye on the market.
  3. Many of these companies will only insure an item for up to $100. If you think your item is worth more than that, consider using a carrier that will allow you to track and insure your package for a larger amount.
  4. You don’t have to accept these offers. You can ask them to return your items, but be prepared to wait. This can take up to 20 days.
  5. Local Equals Instant. If you’re not satisfied with the company’s offer, refuse it. If you accept the offer you should leave with a check in hand.
  6. Dealing with a refiner gets you a bigger return. A middleman chips away at your profit.

I hope this helps you in Getting Top Dollar for your Gold Jewelry.

Sincerely,

Ted Simpson
September 2009




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