The price of gold is up 20% since the beginning of 2011, and by mid-August gold was going for over $1,700 per ounce. With record high levels being paid for gold, many people are cashing in by selling gold jewelry, coins, and other items.
Consumers have lots of options for selling gold, including local jewelers and pawn shops, gold parties in friends’ homes, pop-up events by traveling dealers, and mail-away gold buying services. No matter where you choose to sell gold, it’s important to know the value of your gold as well as the reliability of the business buying the gold.
In 2010, BBBs received 574 complaints on gold and silver dealers, and 416 complaints to date in 2011. Generally, complaints are concerning dissatisfaction with the amount offered for gold. With mail-away services, complaints also are about delays in receiving the check, or not getting gold items back when an offer is turned down, as well as difficulties getting in touch with the business.
The BBB offers tips for consumers to get the most for your gold and avoid problems:
- Keep up with the price of gold. Know how much gold is going for on the day you sell. This will help you know whether you’re being offered a fair price.
- Understand that you won’t get the full price for your gold, because you’re selling to a dealer who then will re-sell the items to be melted down. You may be offered anywhere from 50% on up of the value of the gold.
- Know the karat weight of your gold items. Jewelry and other items aren’t pure gold, but a mix of gold and other metals. The karat weight tells how much gold is in the item. Something marked 10K is about 42% gold; 14K is about 58% gold; and 18K is about 75% gold. The more gold in the item, the more you will be offered for it.
- Get two or three bids. Comparing offers from more than one buyer will help you determine the market value for your item.
- For items that may be especially valuable, consider getting a professional appraisal. You will have to pay for the appraisal, but you will gain important information.
- Some gold items might be worth more when sold as they are, rather than to be melted down. If that gold necklace or bracelet comes from a notable designer or maker, it might have a value to some buyers beyond the gold it’s made of.
- Know who you’re dealing with. Check out jewelry stores and gold buyers with BBB at www.bbb.org. A BBB Business Review tells basic information about the business as well as any complaints and whether the complaints have been resolved when presented to the business by the BBB.
- When using a mail-away service, be sure to understand the terms and conditions. Send the items insured. Find out how long before you get the check, how long they will keep your gold before melting it down, and how many days you have to turn down the offer. Make a list and take photos of your items before sending, and if you send back the check to reject the offer, consider sending it certified.
To check out a business, find lists of BBB Accredited Businesses, see tips and alerts, report misleading advertising, or file a customer complaint, start at www.bbb.org.