There are many reasons people decide to sell their silver and gold jewelry. The reasons are as varied as the prices you’ll be offered. Some consumers find themselves in a short-term cash need and will try to get cash for their silver, gold or platinum jewelry. Others sell because they’re updating or thinning their collection. Then, some people have broken, dented or worn out jewelry that is no longer wearable.

Whatever your reason for seeking to sell your fine jewelry, you should always arm yourself with the necessary facts before venturing out with your baggie full of jewelry.

Figure the Value

What’s the best way to sell your gold jewelry? Unless you know a person or business you can absolutely trust — maybe a reputable pawn store or local jewelry store — you must first figure out the value of the gold before trying to sell it. This value will be determined by the gold’s salability, weight and purity. The last two are not hard to figure out, but the first, salability, factors into the price. If your piece of jewelry is in good shape, without any visible defects and the store can easily resell the item you will typically receive more than just the gold’s value. On the other hand, if the piece is cracked, prongs are missing, is dented or kinked, then the store will have to either “scrap” the item or spend a considerable amount of money repairing it. These factors will be considered into the final price offered. Scrap means that the pawn shop or jeweler will send your piece to a precious metals refiner where the gold is melted and turned back into new gold. The refiner will pay the shop the market price of gold at the time it receives the item. So, the buyer will have to offer a little bit less than market price in order to make a small profit. Keep this in mind when you’re wanting to sell your jewelry.

When selling, you should also know your gold’s purity. Gold jewelry is produced in different purities. The most common in the U.S. are 10k, 14k & 18K. Other countries also produce 22k & 24k pure gold jewelry. Most gold jewelry pieces will be stamped from the manufacturer inside the ring, on the back of earrings and on the end of chains with a hallmark logo stamp and the gold’s purity, i.e. 10k, 14k, etc.

It is advisable to separate your gold based on its purity. You can easily see the stamp with a magnifier. If you have a digital kitchen scale, you should weigh your jewelry. If not, take the separated jewelry into your choice of store and ask the employee to weigh it in front of you. Keep in mind, most common scales measure 28 grams to an ounce and the jewelry industry uses “troy” ounces and uses 31.1 grams to an ounce. This is a must to know before you figure the jewelry’s value.

Another important factor is to learn about the current gold’s market price is and the purity of your gold. For example, today’s gold market price is $1,226. per ounce. This price is for one ounce of pure, 24k gold. Common items that use this price are gold coins and gold bars for collections or investment. Most jewelry is “karated” down to make it more durable and wearable. This is because 24k gold is too soft for most jewelry. When a manufacturer makes 18, 14 and 10k gold, they add “alloys” or other metals to pure gold to make the gold harder. 18k gold is 75% pure gold & 25% alloy. 14k gold is 58.5% pure and 10k is 41.7% pure. So using these figures we can value a typical 14k gold herringbone chain. Let’s say the chain weighs 15.5 grams. First step is to multiply today’s $1,226 gold price by .585 or 58.5%, which is $717.21. (58.5% x $1,226.) Next, you would divide the $717.21 figure by 31.1 (31.1 grams in one ounce of gold). This will give you the “per gram price” of the gold’s melt value. ($717.21 / 31.1 grams = $23.06 per gram). Next, multiply $23.06 by the weight of the chain, 15.5 grams. ($23.06 x 15.5 grams = $357.44). This is the “melt” or market price of your gold chain. This is the price, less processing fees, the pawn store or jeweler will receive from the refiner. Of course, they will have to offer you less than that in order to stay in business and make a reasonable profit. I’ve seen offering prices of 50 to 90% of this melt’s price. Typically, most pay 70 to 80% “spot” or market price. In this example, if the buyer offered you $270, they would be offering 75% of the chain’s value.

What’s a Fair Price?

When you sell gold coins or bars, you should expect to receive at least 90% to 95% of the current market value. But with gold jewelry, you’re likely to get only 70 to 80% of the melt value. The difference reflects buyer’s profit, less the cost of melting and refining.

Signed Pieces:

If your jewelry item is “signed” or is a known brand name, such as Tiffany, Cartier, Faberge or the like, you should receive more for it, as these are very collectable and warrant a higher price.

In closing, my best advice is to do your homework before selling your jewelry and take it to a local “brick & mortar” establishment so you can conduct your business in person. Use an online karat calculator to figure your item’s value. A good one I recommend is http://www.midstatesrecycling.com/karat_kalc. Make sure you select the appropriate measurement to grams before proceeding. Also, do a Google review search on the establishment and check on their reputation and service. I do not recommend shipping your jewelry to any online businesses, as you lose the one-on-one relationship. It is imperative that you build a relationship with anyone buying your gold. It’s a win/win situation for you and the business when a mutual relationship is built. Good luck! If you need any further advice or information, please email me at plewin@decaturjewelry.com.