I was driving down the street today and stopped at a red light (always a good thing to do). I looked over to the right of me, and there, on the corner, was a man with a big sign in his hands, “We Buy Gold!”
I don’t know how many times I have been driving somewhere and saw a sign on a check-cashing place that says, “Sell your gold for cash!” or heard, “We buy gold!” on the radio. Jump on your computer and google, “sell your gold” and you’ll get ‘About 115,000,000 results (.20 seconds).
Actually, it’s not just gold, it’s all jewelry.
The economy is such that people are looking into selling anything that’s worth anything, just to make a little extra money. You may be reading this because you have a piece of jewelry sitting in your jewelry box that you haven’t worn since 1968 and figure that if you haven’t worn it by now, you might as well sell it, yada yada yada.
Before we start testing to see how much your jewelry is worth, I want you to go to your jewelry box (or wherever your piece of jewelry is), and pick up the piece that you are thinking of selling. When you look at it, do tears spring to your eyes because you remember when you wore it to the prom with your first love of your life?
Do you feel bereft at the idea of it just not being “with you” anymore?
Do you know for a fact that if you sold it, some relative is going to come screaming out of the woodwork when someone dies because they know it was handed down to them, and where is it?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to think about whether or not you really want to sell it. Is whatever cash you can get a good replacement for the memories of your magical night of the prom?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, I would forget it and go sell something else. But that’s just me.
If you’re okay with everything, then do it! You don’t even have to go to an appraiser to find out how much you can get out of it (without getting ripped off). You can just do it at home.
How much it’s worth.
Do you know how much jewelry is marked up in a retail store? Put it this way: I know why I got a copper wedding ring. (This time I am not kidding. I wish I was.)
Jewelers thrive on the fact that you have to read an article to be educated about your jewelry’s worth, thus they mark their jewelry up 100 to 1000 percent. (No, that is not a misprint.)They rub their hands together with glee, an evil smirk planted on their faces, as soon as they see a man (any age) walk in and go straight to the engagement rings.
Because what says love more than a big, beautiful, hugely marked-up engagement ring?
A jeweler may pay $500.00 for a diamond, and put a price tag on it of $5,000.00 or more. (I am quitting my job today, I am so in the wrong business.) Case in point: Don’t go to a dealer to find out how much your jewelry is worth. Ever.
Gold, silver, and platinum.
There are tests for each metal that are complicated and should only be done by a professional. However, there are three tests that you can do at home that will tell you whether or not you have a real piece of gold, silver, or platinum on your hands, and that’s all you need.
Note: It is a good idea to do all three tests, if possible. You want as much proof as you can of whether or not your gem is real.
Test #1: Magnet to metal.
The easiest test to see if any precious metal is real is this:
Get a neodymium magnet (it’s the very strongest magnet you can get which is necessary for testing metals) and hold it next to the piece. If the magnet pulls the metal immediately, then it is not real. If it has a light pull, it could be plated or impure. Don’t forget that the settings in a ring or a clasp on a necklace will respond to a magnet; make sure it’s just the metal that you are testing.
(Note: I personally don’t have a neodymium (or rare earth) magnet just hanging around my house. If you don’t either, then just jump online and shop them. You can purchase one for under ten dollars.)
Test #2: The acid test.
The traditional way of testing these metals is by using an acid tester; any reputable jeweler uses this method. However, you don’t have to go to a jeweler to have this done; you can do it yourself.
You can purchase testing kits online; shop around for the one that best fits your needs, and check the reviews for how well the particular kit works. The testing kits vary because it depends on what and how much a person wants to test. Look for testing kits that will test 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, silver and platinum; they’ll run you around twenty bucks. (Note: Some of these tests come supplied with neodymium magnets.)
The acids that come in the test kits are corrosive, and you really don’t want to be on the receiving end of an acid splatter, so be careful! Use newspaper to cover your area and wear protective goggles and rubber gloves. And don’t put more than one piece of jewelry on your work area: You won’t need to test any piece of jewelry if it gets splattered with acid.
Read the testing directions carefully and follow them exactly; you will be using a different type of procedure and acid depending on the type and/or weight of the metal. With each type, though, the premise is the same: You’re going to put a teeny drop of nitric acid on an inconspicuous place on the piece and see what happens.
Final acid test results for all three metals:
If it doesn’t change color, it’s real.
If it changes color to a yellow-orange color, it may be gold, but a lower karat.
If it changes to any other color, it is not gold.
If the color changes it to a cloudy, cream color, then it is sterling silver (or better).
If the color changes it to green, it’s silver-plated.
Real platinum will not change color.
Test #3: The hallmark.
The last test for all three is very simple: Check the authenticity of the piece by inspecting it for a stamp or “hallmark”. A hallmark can tell you the purity of the piece, the manufacturer, the date of when it was manufactured, and other marks of interest. Google what you see if you want to know specifics.
They’re a girl’s best friend. Unless they’re zirconium.
Almost every married woman has a diamond somewhere in their life. But how real is it?
Test #1: The scratch test.
People have been testing diamonds like this for eons, and you can, too, but there are a couple of things to consider before you do this test.
First: There’s a possibility that you could damage your diamond.
Second: Many false gems can scratch glass nowadays.
Having said that, if you still want to, scratch the diamond across a plate of glass. If the glass shows a scratch, the diamond is real.
For the most part, it is a good indicator of the gem’s authenticity, so if you do it, just be careful not to damage it. If it turns out that it seems real, do another test. There’s no such thing as too much proof.
Test #2: The newspaper test.
Put some newspaper down on a table, Put the diamond on top of that. If you can’t see the newspaper print through the diamond, the diamond is real. One comment on this: Sometimes the diamond has a shallow cut and you can read through it anyway.
Test #3: The fog test.
Take a soft cloth, gently rub the diamond, and then breathe on it. If the fog goes away quickly, the diamond is real. A real diamond will not retain heat.
There are other gems that have different varieties of properties and colors. A blue stone could be a blue sapphire, a blue diamond, an aquamarine, or a blue topaz (among many others). Synthetic rubies have the same properties as real rubies.
Identifying gems is really tough, though, even for a jeweler. I cannot even begin to try to list all of the tests (most of which you shouldn’t do at home anyway) to test other gems. I do, however, have one possibly attractive option which I will show you in a minute.
Testing for weight.
No secret here: Get a gemstone scale that weighs in carats.
As far as expense for a gemstone scale goes, it varies highly. I have seen gemstone scales that cost over a five hundred dollars, some really good ones for around seventy bucks, and there are basic does-the-job scales for under twenty dollars.
The best deal I came across, however, is digital pocket scale that weighs in carats, ounces, grams, and grains. It’s a portable mini scale that has a 50 gram capacity (250 carats) and I’ve seen them listed online for only seven dollars.
(By the way, I just want to point out here that when you add up the acid test, the magnet, and the gemstone scale, the total is less than what you would pay for an appraisal. Pat yourself on the back for being smart enough to do your testing at home.)
Bonus Jewelry Tools.
After all of this testing, maybe you have found your calling. Maybe you’re now going to open a jewelry store or something. Maybe you have a lot of different types of jewelry that you would like to test. Maybe you just want to know more about the jewelry that you have.
At any rate, in this wonderful age of technology, there are quite naturally jewelry gadgets to be taken advantage of. If you don’t mind the extra expense, you can do all of the testing (and more) by simply using some of the best jewelry gadgets on the market today. Just remember that they may be a little more expensive.
The Presidium Gem Tester / Color Stone Estimator.
This is the “possibly attractive option” I mentioned a few minutes ago.
If you want to test your other gems, then you can invest in the Presidium Gemstone Tester / Colored Stone Estimator. This gadget is the only colored gemstone tester in the jewelry industry. It identifies diamonds and most colored gemstones, polished and unpolished, and does other tasks, as well. The lowest price I found online for this is $205.00, but it’s well worth it if you have a lot of colored gems (or just one special one).
Deluxe Gold Buying Kit GXL-24 PRO A&D EK-1200i with How To Buy Gold Book
Do you really want to know what your gold is worth and what you can sell it for without losing your shirt? This gadget has the whole package.
The kit comes with a 6k to 24k gold tester, a Legal for Trade Scale which will give you the particulars your need to sell at pawn shops, etc., a gold price calculating scale which allows you to you calculate the price of your piece of gold based on its weight and purity, a 10x magnifier loupe to examine your gems, a prong opener to work with settings,
It even comes with the book, “Gold – Everything you need to know to buy and sell today”, written by Jeff Garrett and Q. David Bowers.
I saw this gold buying kit marked down from $1,275.00 to $699.00. (I told you these gadgets were a tad more expensive.) It’s worth it, though, if you have the need for it. (Note: It may pay to check eBay for these gadgets and any others of interest; just a suggestion.)
There are a lot more gadgets out there that do more (and less) than the two above. Just google and shop.
Okay, so now you know the worth of your jewelry. You have identified your jewelry. You know what you want price-wise for your jewelry. How do you get what you want without getting ripped off?
Five tips that will sell your jewelry at the price that you want for it, not what they want to buy it for.
Tip #1: Before selling an item, be aware of a fair price (based on the going rate) to ask for your item.
We haven’t talked about the price of gold. The economy has pushed the price of gold to $1643.00 per troy ounce as of April 24, 2012. (A troy ounce is part of the imperial system and is the way to gauge the weight of precious metals.) Thus, if you want to sell your gold, know that it’s worth something and don’t let them pay you an insulting price. On the other hand, don’t offer them an insulting price, either.
Tip #2: Haggle, haggle, haggle!
If you have a unique piece and have done your homework, don’t stop with the second – or even the third – offer that you receive from the buyer. Buyers will often negotiate four, five, six times if they really want something. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, but don’t be afraid to hold your ground, either.
Tip #3: Don’t fall for any excuses. Don’t fall for compliments. Don’t fall for anything.
“The price for this ring is too much; I can’t afford even afford groceries right now.” Tears well up in the buyer’s eyes. “This is for my dying mother and so important; can’t you find it in your heart to come down a little in price? You are obviously such a good person, I know that you understand my problem.”
Okay, let’s rip this one up.
Number one: If he’s buying it for his dying mother, then she’s not going to be getting much use out of it, is she?
Number two: If he can’t afford groceries, why is he looking at a diamond ring?
Number three: “You are obviously such a good person.” You could have just bought him lunch and tickets to the Knicks (although they aren’t such a hot commodity this year; I digress.), but you have just met him; how does he know what kind of a person you are, or how much you understand about any problem, let alone his?
Don’t let yourself be led to the slaughter. At best, you’ll be humiliated. At the worst, you’ll have cost yourself a lot of money.
Tip #4: Don’t mail any of your jewelry to anyone unless you know them or you have their money.
Unless you know them, know their reputation, or have gotten the payment (cleared), don’t mail your jewelry out to anyone. There may be exceptions to this (I don’t know of any), but once it’s literally out of your hands, you may never even see it again, and possession is nine/tenths of the law. (It still is, right? Everything’s changed so much…)
There are a lot of places that will “pay all delivery costs, insurance, etc. once we receive your jewelry” and maybe they will, but can you really afford to find out by sending it out with no money up front or knowing of their reputation as a buyer?
Tip #5: Know who you can sell to and who you are selling to.
And on the heels of tip #4, who are you selling your jewelry to? Are you selling to an establishment that can be trusted? A relative that is known for not paying anyone back? And where are you going to sell you jewelry? Has the neighbor down the street been eying the turquoise bracelet you wear but secretly hate? To sell your item(s) for a great price, think of all sources that you know and trust, and try them all.
Five tips to ensure that you buy your jewelry for what you want to pay for it, not what they want to sell it for.
To buy jewelry at the right price is fairly easy, believe it or not. Forewarned is forearmed; if you know what you’re doing, you’ll end up being very happy.
Tip #1: Ask questions.
If you go to a jeweler, make sure that you ask for credentials. Any jeweler worth his weight in gold (really big pun not intended) is licensed to sell jewelry in your state, and should have been in the business for at least a few years.
Tip #2: Try to avoid “cash for gold “places.
Cash for gold places do not pay anywhere near what your gold is worth. Period. If you really feel like you’re getting a good deal, go to the BBB’s website and look up the company. You’d be amazed how many people complain that they were paid a lot less than they should have been.
Tip #3: Never buy from the first person you deal with.
There are many, many, many fish in the sea, even if times are hard right now. In tough times people always want to go to the movies and buy jewelry. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true, but there are a lot of people out there selling jewelry. Don’t feel like the first platinum bracelet you “absolutely have to have!” is going to be the last,. Don’t ever impulse-buy with jewelry.
Tip #4: Think about all the costs the seller has to pay before he sells his first piece of jewelry.
If he’s the owner of a free-standing store, then he has overhead, salaries, insurance, and all that good stuff that goes into owning a business. Now think of those costs in terms of what you are buying; how far is this guy marking this stuff up? (Don’t forget the markups that start at 100 percent and go all the way to 1000 percent.) No matter what you are paying for your item, it has been marked up. A lot. Which brings us to…
Tip #5: Haggle, haggle, haggle!
If you don’t feel comfortable doing it, bring along someone who does. Most people don’t know that any retail establishment – from restaurants to retail stores to expired coupons at Burger King– will work with you on price. You know why? Because times are tough, and any money is better than no money! Remember that the next time the jewelry salesman doesn’t pull his price down and makes you feel like an idiot because you tried.
There you go. You are now armed with the correct tools and their results and can go out and buy and sell your jewelry with confidence. You educated yourself on the practices of jewelers and price mark-ups. You now know really and truly what your jewelry is worth.
And you didn’t even use an appraiser.