Act Fast to Sell Gold Jewelry as the Price of Gold Skyrockets

Gold jewelry spills out from a jewelry box.
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Gold prices have been hovering around $2,000 per ounce after almost hitting the record high in early March and are expected to stay robust through much of 2022.

Which means this is a good time to sell your gold jewelry if you’re looking for some extra cash. That tangle of chains in the back of the jewelry box or the heavy gold earrings you never wear could be worth something, especially when assessed together. Keep in mind that gold buyers aren’t necessarily looking for the jewelry pieces themselves, it’s the gold content that’s bringing the value.

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 caused by the pandemic and inflation are all fueling the price spike. The 2022 prices are about $300 more than spring of 2021.

“Even if things settle down here shortly in Ukraine, you still have a number of other contributing factors that are likely to continue,” Davis said.

Davis, who owns Atlanta Gold and Coin Buyers, said there are people on the sidelines waiting for gold to hit $2,000 per ounce before selling, and buyers who see gold as a good investment against a possibly weakening economy.

Act Now to Sell Your Gold

If you’re looking to make some quick money, turning gold bullion bars or rounds — commemorative gold pieces usually —  into cash will yield more right now than it did even at the end of 2021. Even gold jewelry, coins or other antiques, which usually have less gold content, could net a good payout.

Patience may be even more important right now though, said Patrick Yip, the business development director for major gold seller APMEX. He and other experts are predicting the value of gold will more than double in the coming years.

“I think that gold could make a move that’s multiples of what we see today, if history repeats,” he said, adding that in the past when the stock market struggled, precious metals excelled.

But if $2,000 an ounce right now sounds good, here’s how to sell gold like a pro.

Do These Four Things When Selling Gold

Once you’re sure your items are worth no more to you — no sentimental attachment or valuable appraisal as fine or costume jewelry — than their value when melted down, here’s a four-step process to get the most money when cashing in your gold:

  1. Determine your items’ worth. Find the karat-markings, weigh the items and calculate the melt value. (See chart below). Obviously, you can only do this if you can find the karat marking.
  2. Visit a local coin shop or two to see how much they’ll pay for your items.
  3. Find comparison-reviews of gold buyers online. If the company seems reputable, request a mailer from whichever one has been paying the highest prices.
  4. Sell your items to the local shop, or send them to your chosen company. Accept the offer if it’s a reasonable percentage of the melt value.

Amount of Gold Per Karat Weight

Type of Gold Karat Percent Pure Gold

Yellow Gold

14k

58.30%

Yellow Gold

18k

75%

Yellow Gold

22k

75%

White Gold

10k

41.7%

White Gold

14k

58.30%

White Gold

18k

75%

Rose Gold

10k

41.70%

Rose Gold

18k

75%

Rose Gold

22k

91.70%

Source: World Gold Council

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.

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. For those of us just getting into the selling gold game — and those who have been at it for a while — the assessment of the value of the gold will be done by a professional gold buyer.

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 white, yellow or rose 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.

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.

Make Sure Jewelry Isn’t Valuable

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
People walk past shops in Manhattan’s jewelry district on March 08, 2022. AP Photo by NDZ/STAR MAXIPx

Where to Sell Gold

There are two main ways to sell gold and 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 gold items to a jewelry dealer who buys gold, a precious metals buyer or 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 back 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 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?

Yes, now is a good time to sell gold. To determine if the time is right to sell gold jewelry, keep an eye on the price of gold. In the early months of 2022, price per ounce was hitting near historic peaks, hovering around $2,000 an ounce. That is about $300 more than in the early months of 2021.

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.