Gold Prices Are High: How to Sell That Gold Jewelry You Never Wear

Gold jewelry spills out from a jewelry box.
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Gold prices have been on an upward trajectory — hovering around $1,935 now — since the beginning of the year, and if industry experts are right, prices may hit $2,055 in the next year.

While the overall outlook is good, analysts have been wrong in the past. For example, in 2022, we were expecting to see gold prices go up much more dramatically, but they petered out after March 2022.

Regardless of what happens in the future, if you have gold jewelry you don’t wear, this could be a good time to sell and bring in some extra cash.

What’s Driving Up Gold Prices?

In times of crisis people turn to gold for stability, said gold buyer Tony Davis of Atlanta, and that in turn increases the value. The Russia-Ukraine war, global supply chain issues and inflation have all fueled the price spike. Additionally, the threat of a recession sends people to precious metals rather than the stock market.

“If you’re looking for an inflation hedge at a reasonable price, gold and silver appear to be the frontrunners,” Davis said.

Davis, who owns Atlanta Gold and Coin Buyers, said there are people on the sidelines waiting for gold to hit new heights before selling, and buyers who see gold as a good investment now against a possibly weakening economy.

Wondering if you should invest in gold too? We explain the pros and cons and how you can buy gold.

Why You Should Care Even if You’re Not Selling

Maybe you’ve got a gold wedding band, but you’re planning on keeping the marriage and don’t want to get rid of the ring. Or maybe your grandma passed down a high-karat gold locket, but you just can’t give up the family heirloom.

Even if you’re not selling, you should consider the current price of gold for the sake of your insurance policies. For example, if your spouse bought your wedding and engagement rings in 2002 and you haven’t gotten a quote on them since, then they’re probably only insured up to 2002 values.

But the value of gold has shot up by over $1,500 an ounce since then. So if your ring was lost or stolen, you’d only be getting a 2002 payout from the insurance company rather than the true value in 2023 dollars.

For that reason alone, you should take your gold jewelry in for a quote right about now. Make sure to tell them it’s for an insurance policy rather than a trade-in. They’ll give you a higher quote.

Get the Best Price for Selling Gold Jewelry

You’ll find current gold prices online, but only institutional sellers get the “spot price.” Why? Companies that buy your bullion or jewelry pay for advertising, overhead, melting jewelry, etc. — and they have to make a profit — so they buy below spot.

Aim to get 90 to 95% of the spot price when selling gold bars or coins, and 70 to 80% of melt value for jewelry and other items.

A karat is a unit of measure for the fineness of gold. For example, your 12-karat gold band is 50% gold. An 18-karat gold band would be 75% gold. Don’t confuse carat with karat. A carat is a unit of measure for a gemstone, usually a diamond. So, you could have a 2-carat diamond in an 18-karat gold band.

If you simply take your gold in for an insurance policy quote rather than to sell, they won’t work overhead costs into the quote. Expect your number to be closer to the current spot price.

Find the Melt Value of Your Items

Gold buyers weigh gold in troy ounces. One troy ounce is equivalent to 31.1 grams. If you have solid gold coins or bars, the weight will usually be noted on them.

Pure gold is too soft to be used in jewelry, so it’s mixed with other metals. If you have “gold filled” jewelry, the amount of gold will be about 5%.

To determine the “melt value,” the item is weighed and its karat-mark determined. The assessment of the value of the gold will be done by a professional gold buyer.

A qualified jeweler or coin dealer who buys gold can help you figure out the weight and purity (as measured by karats) of the gold bracelet or that gold but gaudy brooch Grandma handed down. Then the cash-in price can be determined.

Amount of Gold Per Karat Weight

Type of Gold Karat Percent Pure Gold

Yellow Gold



Yellow Gold



Yellow Gold



White Gold



White Gold



White Gold



Rose Gold



Rose Gold



Rose Gold



Source: World Gold Council

Make Sure Jewelry Isn’t Valuable for Another Reason

Before you send any jewelry off to be melted down, first determine if it’s worth more than the value of the gold. Get an appraisal or ask a jewelry dealer how much he’ll pay for your things. Who knows, you may have an antique on your hands.

Costume jewelry — sometimes called fashion jewelry — can be made of many materials, including plastic, but typically not precious metals, especially gold. Gold buyers would not be interested in these pieces, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. Pearls and semi-precious stones are considered costume jewelry.

Look through your jewelry box and even other spots for tangled chains, which may be made of various grades of gold. They may have been hanging around for a while and never worn. Here are some of the things you might have at home that contain gold.

  • Wedding and engagement rings
  • Class rings
  • Necklaces, especially chains
  • Earrings
  • Bracelets
  • Tooth fillings that have fallen out
Manhattan’s jewelry district has many stores that buy gold jewelry. AP Photo by NDZ/STAR MAXIPx

Where to Sell Gold

There are two main ways to sell gold and other precious metals: Online or to a local buyer, often a jeweler.

The advantage of selling locally is that you get your money quickly — sometimes at the same time you receive the offer. Bring your items to a jewelry dealer who buys gold, a precious metals buyer or a coin shop. Many of them will test your jewelry’s gold content on the spot, and offer you a price based on the amount of precious metal.

Research Online Buyers

Selling to the national buyers who advertise on television and the Internet is trickier. Typically, these companies send you a mailing box or envelope to use to ship your items to them.

After a few days, they make an offer and you can either accept or decline. If you accept the offer, you get a check. If you decline it, the company will (or rather, should) return your jewelry or bullion, but the postage is usually on you this time.

Avoid Scams When Selling Gold Online

Some companies send a check before you agree to their price, others assume you agree if you don’t respond quickly enough — and some don’t send the jewelry back or pay you.

A little research goes a long way in avoiding scams when selling precious metals. Check whether there have been complaints with the Better Business Bureau against the dealer you’re considering. Look at how long they’ve been in business — Davis recommended finding a dealer that’s been around for at least 10 years. And of course, check their reviews online.

Remember that a bad review doesn’t always mean it’s a scam. For example, some sellers will inevitably complain because they didn’t understand that 10-karat gold is barely more than 40% gold. On the other hand, if 20 out of 25 reviews are negative, you can probably find a better company to work with.

Look for reviews that involve tests of companies using identical items. This feedback helps you discover which companies are difficult to deal with and which consistently pay the most.

Compare Prices From Multiple Vendors

The best thing you can do is take your piece to multiple local dealers yourself and get a range of quotes. Some online dealers will give you a quote without mailing in your item, or you should be able to talk to a real person to ask these questions:

  • How long do I have to make a decision on your offer?
  • How will I get my jewelry or other objects back if you say no?
  • What percentage of “melt value” do you pay?

The company may answer the last question with a range, since it costs more to recover the precious metals in some items, but if the company hesitates to give any answer, move on.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Selling Gold Jewelry

Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about selling gold jewelry.

Is it Worth Selling Gold Jewelry?

Yes, it is worth it to sell gold jewelry if you have some that you want to part with. Or maybe you've picked some up for bargain prices at flea markets, garage sales or estate sales with an eye on cashing it in. Be aware that different grades of gold, determined by karat weight, will be valued differently. An 18K gold piece is about 75 percent pure gold and 10K gold is just more than 41%. So the higher the karat weight, the more money you will get.

What is the Best Way to Sell Old Gold Jewelry?

The two primary ways to sell gold are through a local buyer (coin shop, precious metals buyer or jeweler) or online. The advantage to selling to a local buyer is that you will likely get your money at the same time you received the offer. There are many online gold buyers and make sure you research them through the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are reputable. It will take longer to get your money through online gold buyers.

Is Now a Good Time to Sell My Gold Jewelry?

To determine if the time is right to sell gold jewelry, keep an eye on the price of gold. Prices have fluctuated by about $300 an ounce throughout the year but may hit $2,055 or higher in the next 12 months. If you bought before 2020 or especially the 2008 recession, you’re highly likely to make some big profit right now.

Will a Jeweler Buy My Gold?

Many independent jewelers, especially those who do custom design, buy gold. They melt down your gold and use them for other designs. Find the names of local jewelers online and then check them out via the Better Business Bureau. You can also call ahead and find out their procedures for assessing gold. It's best to find someone that can do the assessment themselves rather than send it off. In that case, you might as well seek out an online gold buyer.

Contributor Cassidy Alexander is a Florida journalist with experience writing about education, local government and personal finance. Reporting from former Penny Hoarder contributor Steve Gilman is included in this report.