I Sold My Old Gold!

We've all heard the ads on the radio:  "Do you have old gold and silver?  Bring it to Joe's Jewelers and we'll turn your unwanted items into cash."  The number of stores and companies advertising that they buy gold has been increasing over the last year or so, and so are stories of scams and bad deals.  Is selling your gold and silver a good idea?  Is it safe?  Will you get a decent price for your items?

A few weeks ago, I decided that my jewelry box needed a thorough cleaning.  It was full of mismatched earrings, broken jewelry and items that I'll never wear.  After sorting out the trash, items for the kids' dress-up box, and things that need repair, I had a few items that I didn't want but seemed like they might be valuable.  The small pile included four mismatched gold hoop earrings, my high school class ring, a charm, two odd rings that I'd never liked, a broken bracelet, and four broken necklaces.  I put them in a baggie in my drawer and figured that I would deal with them some other time.

Being uptight, as I am, I figured that I would do a ton of research before talking to anyone about selling these items.  I was afraid that a disreputable dealer would take advantage of my lack of knowledge about jewelry, and I didn't want to make a bad decision.  I read a bit online, where the advice included knowing the karat of your jewelry, weighing it before you went in, and knowing the daily cost of gold.  Consumer Reports recommends this online calculator to figure out how much your gold should be worth, then trying to get at least 85% of the calculated value when you sell the items.  I saw several problems with these suggestions:  I don't have a jewelry scale, not all of my jewelry was readily identifiable as a certain karat, and I'm pretty overwhelmed trying to manage a family while my husband is deployed.  Non-essential items need to be dropped, and honestly, all that stuff seemed pretty non-essential to me.  I figured the jewelry would continue to clutter up my drawer indefinitely, if my high school ring is any example.  I haven't worn my high school ring in at least 20 years and I've been moving it around all this time.

Then I saw an advertisement for an old, established local jeweler that mentioned that they buy old gold jewelry.  I was going to be in the area this afternoon for another errand, so I dropped the baggie in my purse and stopped in.

When I entered the store, the salesperson greeted me and I said that I was interested in getting rid of some old jewelry.  I feared that I would be treated a little poorly, but he was very cordial and cheerful, and invited me to a desk off to the side of the sales floor.  He looked at all my jewelry carefully, first checking with a jeweler's loupe to look for any identifying stamps and sorting the jewelry into different carat weights.  A few chains and the charm were returned to me as not being solid gold but it was done in a very polite and friendly fashion.  He then tested the pieces that he couldn't identify visually, using a small kit that contained a dark stone and several mild acidic solutions.  When he was finished, we had three small piles:  10K (my class ring, a small thin ring, and a broken chain), 14K (two hoop earrings, one thin ring and a broken necklace), and 18K (one broken bracelet and two hoop earrings.)  He weighed each pile and then multiplied the weight by today's selling price, as listed on a small flyer-type piece of paper.  After finishing the calculations, he presented me with an offer of a little over $200 for the items.

I'll be honest, I didn't know if this was a good price or not.  However, I was considering the money to be a bonus for cleaning out my jewelry and getting rid of some unwanted or unusable pieces, and I appreciated the ease of the transaction, so I accepted the offer.  If I had been seriously interested in the financial side, I would have taken his offer home and done more homework to see if I could find a better deal elsewhere.  I have specifically NOT calculated the value of what I sold because I don't really want to know.  I'm happy with the deal I made and I don't want to be made unhappy at this point.  The entire process took less than a half hour, it was convenient and pleasant, and I've cleared some clutter out of my life.  The money is a pleasant reward but not my primary motivation.

I'm not really sure I'm qualified to tell you the best way to sell your gold for the maximum profit, but I  suggest you consider the following questions:

  • What are your reasons for selling your gold?  Are you looking for the most money, or just to clear out some unnecessary items?
  • How much time do you have to devote to this endeavor?
  • Is there a reputable jeweler in town who buys jewelry?  Do you want to deal with someone more local or are you willing to go outside your home area?  How do you feel about working through the mail or the internet?


Considering your goals, your personal time constraints and your own preferences will help make selling your old jewelry a positive, and hopefully rewarding, experience.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.