Have gold. Want money.
January 30, 2011 9:38 AM   Subscribe

I have gold jewelry I never, ever wear. I live in Philadelphia. I want to sell it. Where do I do it and how does it work?

I have several pieces of gold jewelry that I never wear and never will wear. I don't know how many carats they are because a friend actually made them for me. I cannot ask the friend because I don't want to offend her by selling jewelry she made for me--but I just really never will wear it. I've had it for ten years and have never worn it. (It's a matching giant earring and bracelet set, and the earrings are too heavy for me to wear, and I'm just not a big gold jewelry person in general). I am 100% positive it is actual gold.

My question is twofold: Where in Philadelphia is a reputable place to buy gold, and can they figure out how many carats something is if it's not labelled?
posted by millipede to Shopping (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Where in Philadelphia is a reputable place to buy gold,

SELL gold, that is. Sell gold. They buy it. From me.
posted by millipede at 9:39 AM on January 30, 2011

Not sure of a specific place, but whatever you do--avoid those Cash 4 Gold type places. They all have slightly different names but the ripoff is the same.

They offer you a bottom of the barrel price, and then rely on you accepting it since you don't know any better and then they get it melted down and sell it for its real value.

Go to an appraiser or a trusted jeweler and ask them.
posted by Elminster24 at 9:51 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

How's the craftsmanship on your jewelry? i.e., does it worth come entirely from its gold content, or is there additional value in the way it's crafted?

If it's the former, and if no one can suggest anywhere good in Philadelphia, I've had good luck buying and selling precious metals from Northwest Territorial Mint in Washington state, via USPS registered/insured mail. They tend to deal with coins and bars more than jewelry, but it looks like they may consider buying jewelry. They've been around for a couple decades, so they're not one of those fly-by-night gold buyers that have sprung up recently from the skyrocketing gold prices.
posted by losvedir at 9:55 AM on January 30, 2011

Another voice for avoiding the Cash 4 Gold type places, even (especially) the ones that offer to send a pre-paid mailing envelope to your home to collect the gold and give you an "estimate".

Would you consider giving the jewelry back to her? As someone who occasionally puts tons of time into making artwork and giving it to friends/family, the one thing I ask is that if they ever don't have room in their lives for the piece, that they offer it back to me before selling it or giving it to the Salvation Army. I tell the giftees not to feel guilty returning an item, that for me, making it was because I was thinking about them, and they don't need to keep it to know that I cared about them while making it.

I feel like it is a good solution- the works that I put so much energy and love get a chance to come back to me rather than going to Goodwill or getting sold, and the person doesn't feel obligated to keep something that they may eventually have no room for. A giftee has returned something once, after having it for about 7 years- they were moving across the country into a small place with no space for artwork. I took it happily back (it was like getting a gift of my own!), we're still great friends. I know this isn't what you have in mind, but if this is a piece that your friend worked very hard on, it might mean a great deal to her to have you give it back to her rather than sell it. Just a thought.
posted by arnicae at 10:10 AM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]

Keep in mind that you're not likely to gain very much financially from selling your gold. It's not a get-rich-quick scheme.

If the pieces are just gold (no jewels, etc.) then likely all you'll be getting is a set per-weight price.

Now I've never actually sold any gold (although one jeweller did mention to me when I was inquiring about getting a piece made that I should bring in any "old gold" I wasn't using and apply that to the cost of the piece) but if you're buying gold jewellery, keep in mind that in Canada at least (and from what I can tell, also in the States), a good/fair/average starting price is in the territory of $100 per gram for 14K. So if you want to buy a pair of earrings that weigh in at 2 grams total, you'll be looking at a price tag of $200 minimum (and up and up from there depending on the workmanship and the brand name). Now remember this is the retail market price.

What you intend to do is sell your gold pieces. If they are wonderful examples of jewellery that can be resold as "estate" they'll have more value than if they are simply bought for their gold content. Even so, the jeweller is going to want to make a profit, so s/he will need to mark them up to a suitable retail price.

Taking all that into consideration and then taking a really wild guess, I'd say you should likely expect to get at best maybe a quarter of the retail price, so perhaps $25 per gram, and probably a lot, lot less.

While the appraisal idea is a good one, just to know what you've got, keep in mind those values are typically used as insurance valuation prices -- you know, what it would cost you to replace the items at a retail price -- not what an estate jeweller would be willing to give you for your pieces. Also formal appraisers charge money. In Canada, you'd likely be looking at $30 to $50 (if not more) to appraise both pieces. I imagine American prices are similar.

As the pieces were a gift, I say wear them -- or at least wear the bracelet if the earrings are too heavy -- at least once. Who knows, you may find that you'll change your mind about wearing gold.
posted by sardonyx at 10:12 AM on January 30, 2011

Response by poster: I would not like to give the pieces back to her. I cannot wear them. I look terrible in gold. I know to avoid the "cash 4 gold" places. My question is regarding specific places in Philadelphia to sell gold.
posted by millipede at 10:16 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your best best for a physical place would be a coin shop. They are used to dealing with precious metals and generally will be somewhat fair (unlike a pawn shop or cash4gold shop). Use the Google for 'coin shop Philadelphia'. Of course, selling to a private seller via Craig's or eBay would bring the highest price.

If the gold is not labelled with the purity of the gold, there are tests they can do to determine its purity. The price offered will be the ounces of gold times the spot price of gold minus some discount to account for profit. A private seller will generally pay a bit over spot just for the gold content, and if you find someone who likes the designs, they may pay much more. But the coin shop will only pay for the value of the gold minus some amount.
posted by kevinsp8 at 11:26 AM on January 30, 2011

They can find the karat even if it is not marked, with scratch and acid tests.
posted by Houstonian at 11:45 AM on January 30, 2011

I just sold some old gold jewelry (in Chicago, sorry!) after using this post I found linked on Ask Metafilter to demystify the process and estimate what the old jewelry was worth. Just recently, I came across a calculator that makes it even easier to estimate the value. Once I knew about how much money I should get for the gold, I felt much more comfortable evaluating offers. I ended up selling it to a neighborhood jewelry store that I rely on for repairs.
posted by DrGail at 11:53 AM on January 30, 2011 [6 favorites]

I think most of the people answering in this thread were addressing the "how does it work?" part of your question, as this seems like a new experience to you.

I'd still say try a place that buys and sells estate jewellery before trying a coin shop because if the pieces have a high level of craftsmanship, you might get a better price than just their gold weight value, but it won't hurt to look at both types of establishments.

Now I've never bought jewellery in Philly, but a quick Internet search throws up a few places to start:


Also possibly here:

This place also looks like a good candidate, but I'm guessing it's outside Philly proper:

As I said, take your time and shop around. Compare the offers given by at least two or three shops, and deal with the business that give you the most confidence and the best price.
posted by sardonyx at 12:34 PM on January 30, 2011

I don't have any specific places in Philly to recommend, but you could go down to Jewelers' Row located on Sansom Street between 7th and 8th and on 8th between Walnut and Chestnut in Center City and check out a few stores all located close together.
posted by Rob Rockets at 1:01 PM on January 30, 2011

So I've never done this, but I'm from Philly. I'm seconding the idea that you should just go down to Jeweler's Row and look around.

You appear to not have a car (from this question you asked); of course that's not a problem for getting there. sardonyx mentioned a bunch of places in her comment, found by google; it seems that some of them have locations along the "main line" (what SEPTA calls the "Paoli/Thorndale Line" and until recently called the "R5"), which isn't surprising because that's where the old money is. You can reach these places by regional rail, so you shouldn't rule them out.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:59 PM on January 30, 2011

Use Google Maps to locate pawn shops near you and read the reviews to find ones that have a reputation for giving a fair price to sellers.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:44 PM on January 30, 2011

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