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How to Avoid Cash-for-Gold Scams

When gold prices rise, selling your gold jewelry might seem like an easy way to make extra cash. But you have to be wary -- a lot of scammers are out there to rip you off.


  • Step 1: Know weight Know that gold jewelry is bought based on weight and purity. Have an estimate of the weight in troy ounces of your item, minus any stones or non-gold areas, and know the purity, such as 14 or 18 karat.
  • TIP: Divide the number of karats by 24, the percentage of pure gold, for the percentage of gold of your piece.
  • Step 2: Get an estimate Get an estimate of the value of your gold by putting in the weight and purity numbers, along with the current price of gold, into an online gold price calculator.
  • Step 3: Consider fair offers Consider an offer fair if you are offered at least 50 percent of the gold value for the jewelry. For example, if you've calculated that the metal value of your piece was worth $120, consider a $60 offer valid. Reputable companies consistently offer around 50 percent, while disreputable companies consistently offer much less.
  • Step 4: Get multiple offers Get multiple offers. Ask each buyer the weight, purity, and price per gram they are using to calculate price. If a jeweler offers an extra high trade in value toward purchase of new merchandise, make sure to get another offer first as you may be able to secure a better cash buy price.
  • TIP: It is possible the karat weight listed on your piece is lower than marked. If several buyers note the lower purity, they are probably correct.
  • Step 5: Deal with established buyers Deal with established local buyers. Coin or bullion dealers often offer the best prices. Never deal with mail-in companies, which typically low-ball, counting on the fact that most people are unlikely to solicit other offers.
  • TIP: Don't let your jewelry out of your sight until you sell it. Stones could be removed or switched.
  • Step 6: Be wary of phone quotes Be wary of quotes you get over the phone. Many times, the price will be lower when you get inside the store.
  • Step 7: Weigh few items separately Get separate offers for each piece if you only have a few. If you several, all items of the same karat weight may be weighed as one lot.
  • Step 8: Get it in grams Watch out for prices quoted in pennyweights instead of grams, which some buyers use to make their offers sound higher. There are 20 pennyweights in a troy ounce, so if one buyer is paying $12 per gram, the buyer using pennyweights would have to offer $18.60 per pennyweight to match it.
  • Step 9: Ensure proper licensing Ensure that prospective buyers are licensed and comply with state and local laws. Many states require a separate license from the police department or sheriff's office in order to legally buy items from the public. Buyers who fail to comply are more likely to rip you off.
  • FACT: The California gold rush began on January 24, 1848, when James W. Marshall found a gold nugget in the American River while working at John Sutter's mill.

You Will Need

  • Estimate of your gold's value
  • Several offers
  • Established
  • local buyers
  • License check

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