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Fueling the DIY: If you've ever thought about selling gold, READ THIS!

I couldn't believe this. You know how everyone always hurries through airport security, where they make you empty your spare pennies and dimes into those bins? And then when we get through the other side, eager to catch that flight, don't bother to retrieve our change? 
In 2011 airport security collected more than $400,000 in unclaimed loose change. -Yahoo
That number causes me physical pain. Not to mention goes against everything we clever nesters stand for. Most of the time, loose change makes our diy world go 'round.

(Are there any job openings at airport security??)

Unconventional Means
My favorite hobby, and maybe yours too, is thinking up ways to get extra money to make decor stuff with. The best way to make Jason nervous is to stand in the garage and mutter, "Yes, this would fetch a good sum..." under my breath.  
When I've emptied all the usual places of spare change, and sold anything not nailed down we don't need anymore on Craigslist, it's time to take it up a level.

In planning my bedroom makeover that I'm in the middle of, I wondered "where am I going to get the money for this?"

And then it hit me. Maybe the money is sitting on top of my dresser. 

Raiding Grandma's Jewelry Box
I did it. I raided my jewelry box. Wait a sec, here, Alyssa. Selling gold? Isn't all that a scam? 

We've all see the commercials, sell your gold and silver and make a fortune!

I find it amusing how some ads really try to simplify this concept down to the bare essentials. MO-NEE. GOUULD! YUU GIV, WE PAEE! Thanks for helping us all out with that one.
You may be incredibly skeptical about this topic, or think it's the best thing ever. I was both highly skeptical and incredibly curious.

First Things First
We all know it pays to do the research BEFORE diving in. So that's just what I did. I found quite a bit of helpful info out there, and after doing some reading, I came to the conclusion that it is a completely legit business and absolutely possible to come out ahead selling my gold. 

Here are some Do's before anyone should set foot in a Cash for Gold office.
  • Consider an appraisal. Your jewelry may have more value than just it's weight in gold. Are there any signatures or stamps? Can you find any similar pictures of it online? Your pieces may be from a well known designer or maker. Consider having it appraised by a pro. It will cost more up front, but you will know you if are getting your money's worth when it comes to selling it.
  • Shop Around. Pawn shops and jewelers have a rep for very low pay outs, since they are retail operations and often take a higher profit for themselves. Gold parties can be fun, but also may not pay top dollar for your gold. If you have attended or hosted a gold party, I don't want to knock your experience, it's just a good idea to do your homework before attending one. Mail in companies may be perfectly legit, but it just feels weird to send my valuables away and hope for a good price. 
  • Look 'Em Up. The Better Business Bureau serves the U.S. and Canada and sets standards for ethical business behavior, helps settle disputes, and exposes fraud. Look up the business you're considering on their site to find out how they are rated. If they're not accredited by the BBB,  that might mean trouble.
  • Know the Price of Gold. Check the price of gold on the day you plan to sell. Websites like Kitco give live gold prices. 
When I checked on this particular day, gold was at 1576.70. That means 1 troy ounce, the measurement used to weigh gold, was worth $1576.70. 

FYI: I didn't fully realize this, but you will not get the market price for your gold. Cash for gold places are businesses, after all, and it's only fair for them to make a profit on the service they provide. Each company offers a different quote for your jewelry. This is where comparison shopping really pays off!!

Back to Raiding Grandma's Jewelry Box...
As in, Grandma's jewelry, given to me, a long time ago, she has long since passed. I'm not advocating crimes against the elderly here.

You might not think you have gold jewelry just laying around or if you do, anything you'd want to part with. But you just might be surprised what you find once you start looking. As I rummaged around I picked out several broken chains, single earrings, and out of style pieces I knew I'd never wear again.
I made sure there was nothing Jason bought me in my "to sell" pile. That would've been awkwardNot a chance, my man has great taste :)

I laid everything out to see what I'd found. 3 necklaces, 4 rings, 7 charms, and 3 pairs of earrings. Gold and sterling silver. Some had precious stones and itty bitty diamonds. I included things even if I suspected they might be gold. No harm in trying, right?
I bagged up my items and drove off to cash in an early retirement. 

The Process
Every business will have a slightly different way of doing things. That doesn't necessarily mean they are trying to scam you. Once I did my research and understood the basic process, I felt comfortable and confident that I wouldn't be taken advantage of.

The company I decided to do business with was AAA Gold Exchange. They didn't ask me to write this post, pay me, or give me any incentives whatsoever. I just liked how it all went down and decided to give them some love

I liked them for one because they had an office I could walk into and interact with real people face to face. I am admittedly a little paranoid, but it felt so much better dealing with a real live person for this sort of thing rather than trying to do it through the mail, over the phone, or online. Ya know?

Testing, Testing
I sat down with my friendly rep Lydia and she got the ball rolling. To find out what was gold and what wasn't, she first swept a magnet over all my jewelry. Whatever stuck to the magnet was not gold. Just under half of my loot turned out to be not real and was chucked from the pile. Drat.

Once we knew what was real, she scraped each piece on a slate buffing stone. These scrapings would be chemically tested for karat worth.

The Golden Karat
 A karat (or carat) is the term used to describe gold's purity. 24k gold is pure gold. 18k gold is 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals. In the same way, 14k gold is 14 parts gold and 8 parts other metals. Here's how the percentages look.

24k = 100% gold
18k = 75% gold
14k = 58% gold
12k = 50% gold

My gal Lydia looked at each gold piece for a karat stamp, separating items by karat valueShe tested each scraping with an acid solution. The liquid would show clear if it was really that karat value or murky and bronzy if not.
They almost all passed, whew!

Apparently shady jewelers can be lame and mark up karat value on a piece of jewelry, making you pay more for less gold. This was the case with one of my gold chains. When it failed the 14k test, she tested to see if it was the next karat value down. Yep. 10k instead. Curse you shady jewelers. 

This step takes a little faith in the company to give you accurate information. It was nice that I could see for myself what the solution was doing. It definitely looked cloudy compared to the other pieces. And my sterling silver was tested in the same way.

Weighing In
Gold is typically weighed in pennyweight. A pennyweight is about one and a half times a standard gram, 1.555 times to be exact.

Scam Alert: 
One way to scam you is by weighing your jewelry in pennyweight and then trying to pay you by the gram (you will get less).

All you need to know is, as long as the business "weighs and pays" in the same unit, you will get a fair price. 

To make sure they're not swapping units, look at the scale they are using. If the scale says DWT they are weighing in pennyweight. Make sure the price they quote you is also in pennyweight.
Some businesses weigh in grams, some in pennyweight. It really doesn't matter. It will always be the same weight of jewelry, regardless of the measurement used. For someone as mathematically challenged as me, this takes some getting used to, but I think I understand this. Just don't ask me how much a pound of feathers weighs.

Another important unit of measure to know is the troy ounce. That's the unit used for the market price of gold. A pennyweight is 1/20th of a troy ounce. If gold is going for $1576.70, like on the day I checked, a pennyweight will be worth 1/20th of that, or $315.34.

Tally Ho!
It was time to calculate how rich I was about to become! My palms itched in anticipation.

Since they don't buy gemstones or diamonds under a certain karat value (who knew?), Lydia weighed some gems the same size as the ones in my jewelry and subtracted this amount from the total weight. I was offered the loose gems if I wanted, but I couldn't think of what I'd do with them, so I passed. If you want to sell a piece but like the stone, you can ask to have it removed and set it in a new piece later.
Each karat value was totaled separately. So all my 24k pieces were totaled together, then the 14k and so on. 

Scam Alert: Another way to scam you is to weigh larger karat items with smaller karat jewelry and you are paid for the lowest karat value. Make sure different karats are weighed and totaled separately.

Businesses offer a certain rate for gold. How much depends on how pure the item is. As karat value goes down, so does the ratio of gold to other metals.

Say the business offers $50 for one pennyweight of pure gold. A 24k item that weighs 1 pennyweight will bring $50. But since a 12k item is only half gold, and a pennyweight of 12k will bring in $25.

Lot's of numbers! I know, hang with me. We're almost there!

The Results Are In
This was what I brought to sell.

All things being tested, here are my results.
Good thing I decided to leave my paper clips and Chuck E. Cheese's tokens at home. Sheesh. The good news is that I got to take all my not real gold pieces back home with me. So there really is no harm in trying.

How Much?
I was dying to see how much my pieces would be worth, I had no idea what to expect. In gold I had 3 chains, 1 charm, 2 rings, and 1 pair of earrings. I also had 2 charms and 2 rings in sterling silver.

Every business will offer a different amount for your jewelry. This is where shopping around could mean a few extra $20's in your wallet.

Lydia totaled it up, and out came the numbers- $130. Not bad! :) I liked that there was no pressure to sell. I could have said "thank you, I'll think about it" and gone home with my gold. 

Scam Alert: No one should make you feel pressured to sell, and if they do, chances are they are trying to rip you off!

I decided to go for it. Not millionaire status, but $130 in my hand was doing me a heck of a lot more good than broken jewelry collecting dust in my jewelry box. And that was just what I needed to say hello bedroom set : D.
To Sell Or Not To Sell?
That is the question. I had fun trying this out for the first time. And knowing what to watch out for definitely helped me feel like I wouldn't get ripped off. I was glad to have my gold doing something for me instead of sitting unused on my dresser. And I'm glad I can put some info out there from experiencing it first hand!

Have you ever sold your gold? do you think maybe now you'd give it a try? Anybody have experiences with gold parties?

<3 Alyssa
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