Get the most for your gold
Posted November 23, 2009 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated November 23, 2009 7:00 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — On any given weekend, gold buyers are set up in hotels across the Triangle. Gold can also be sold by mail, at local pawn shops and at jewelry stores.
Beverly Baskin, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina, said the gold market has exploded.
Gold has been on a record-setting climb since early September as investors looked for an alternative investment to a falling dollar. Gold is considered a good hedge against a weak greenback because of its stable store of value.
As investors grow more cautious over the sustainability of the economy's recovery, they have begun to shift money out of risker assets like stocks and commodities and back into safe-haven investments like the dollar and Treasurys. Gold is also considered a safe-haven asset, so prices have held up amid the dollar's strength.
Last year, 29 people inquired the BBB about gold buying companies. So far this year, Baskin said, inquiries have topped 1,450.
“It's an opportunity for consumers. They may make some extra money if they have that kind of jewelry laying around that they're neither needing or wanting,” Baskin said. “Our concern is that they don't get ripped off and they get a fair price.”
How do consumers get a fair price?
First, experts say people need to know what they have. Eighteen-karat gold is worth more than 14- or 10-karat. Sellers should make sure the buyer separates the pieces based on karat before weighing them..
Experts say the most important thing is that consumers shop around.
Five on Your Side took five gold pieces – a necklace, bracelet and three rings – to two hotel gold buying events, a pawn shop and a jewelry store.
The same company operated both hotel events but at different locations.
The most valuable piece was an 18-karat triple ring. One hotel buyer offered $110. The second hotel buyer offered $149. The pawn shop offered $170 and the jewelry store offered $224.
With the five items combined, the lowest offer was $367 and the highest was $695.
But realizing you were paid too little after the fact doesn't do you any good.
“Most of these places are no refunds. No exchanges. No returns. You accept that money and that is the contract. There is really no recourse,” Baskin said.
A final caution: If you decide to sell your gold through the mail, insure it for what you believe it is worth. However, because there are so many ways to sell your gold face-to-face, sending it by mail may not be worth the risk.