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Appraisers urge caution selling gold

POSTED: February 27, 2009 10:03 a.m.
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Many jewelers are offering to buy consumers' old or mismatched gold jewelry in order to melt it down and create new pieces

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RESTON, Va. — The price of gold is once again selling at near all-time high prices. That, combined with tough economic times,
has many people eager to take advantage of high prices by selling their gold for scrap.
The American Society of Appraisers cautions consumers to learn the ropes before jumping into a gold marketplace that may not offer the best deal.
With gold parties springing up in people’s homes and in hotel ballrooms across the country, and mail-in gold businesses multiplying, it is important for consumers to become educated about the gold market before selling their gold.
“If consumers don’t know what they have and approximately what it is worth, they have absolutely no idea if they are getting a fair value for their gold,” said Margaret Olsen, accredited senior appraiser of the society.
The society offers tips to consumers.
• Start by looking for a stamp on the back of the jewelry that lists the karats. 24 karat gold is .999 pure, 18 karat gold is .750 pure, 14 karat gold is .583 pure and 10 karat gold is .417 pure. It is important to note that not all gold jewelry contains the exact purity that is on the stamp. Gold from other countries may be less pure than stamped and older 14 karat jewelry, like that produced in the 1970s and earlier, may have a purity of 13.5 karats.
• Next, find out the current prices of gold by looking at Web sites like Kitco.com. The price is quoted per troy ounce. A troy ounce is 31.1 grams. To get the price per gram, divide the daily price of gold by 31.1 grams and you will get the price for a gram of 24 karat gold. Most items are not pure gold so if you have 18, 14, or 10 karat gold, it will be worth less.
• Ask the jeweler what percentage they take from the sale and what percentage the metal refinery takes and then you will have an idea of what you should be paid.
“It really is a bit complicated for the average person to know exactly what they have to begin with and to
do the math to figure out what they should be paid,” Olsen said. “That is why it is really important to deal with a reputable local jeweler with ties to the community.”
• Take time to assess whether selling gold jewelry for scrap is the best option. Broken or mismatched jewelry can easily be melted down. However, many pieces have more value when sold whole to an estate jeweler or buyer. Pieces from well-known designers, well-crafted antique pieces or pieces with gem stones should be valued individually because melting them down may not be the best option.
• For consumers who want to have a piece of jewelry appraised, they should choose an appraiser who is an accredited member of a nationally recognized appraisal organization, such as the American Society of Appraisers, as well as a graduate gemologist of the Gemological Institute of America or the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. For gold coins
and bars, ask an accredited gold appraiser or numismatist. Also, ask about an appraiser’s credentials and make sure they are still active.
To find an appraiser or to learn more about appraisals, consumers can log on to www.appraisers.org.
 

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