Evaluate Your Options Before Selling Gold Jewelry

I was watching a King of Queens marathon late last night and my viewing enjoyment was continually being disrupted by those ubiquitous Cash4Gold ads that urge viewers to collect their unwanted jewelry so it can be turned into “cold, hard, cash!”

After the 40th commercial, I finally decided to give up and TiVo the rest of the marathon.

This cash for gold thing would have made a great episode of the King of Queens. I could see it now:  Doug and Carrie kick Arthur out of the house and, in order to make up for the lost rent, they decide to collect some of their old gold jewelry so they can turn it into a quick buck.  Of course, Doug would accidentally include Carrie’s wedding ring in the return envelope and be forced to spend the rest of the episode trying to get the ring back.

The Los Angeles Times recently wrote a piece on Cash4Gold that revealed, not surprisingly, their promise to pay “top dollar” doesn’t always translate into big bucks.

In fairness, Jeff Aronson, CEO of Cash4Gold, defends the gold refinery on several grounds.  In the Times’ article, he points out that melting down jewelry is “not always the right way for somebody to monetize,” and that his website makes this clear.

Yes, when it comes to converting gold to cash you have multiple alternatives from which to choose. But which one is the best option?   Well, unfortunately there is no right answer as each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

If you decide that you do want to convert your old gold jewelry to cash, you should first take a minute to consider the time, effort, and monetary trade-offs that your available options offer.   A quick-look summary of my evaluation and overview of the five alternatives follows (click on the image to make it larger):

Gold Refiners

Refiners such as Cash4Gold can get you money quickly with very little effort.  The trade off is their payout is very poor, typically no more than 10% of retail, although price-per-ounce payouts tend to be higher when you have more than 10 ounces of gold to sell.  They send you an envelope, and you return your gold to them.  The refiners then determine a value and send you a check about a week later.  If you’re happy, you cash it.  Otherwise you have 15 days to return the check and get your gold back. If you are in a real hurry, there is also a “fast cash” option that allows you to deposit your payment directly into your checking account within 24 hours.

Pawn Shops

Pawn shops will evaluate your gold jewelry and offer you a price that is often two to three times higher than what the refiners will offer you.   Convenience wise, you actually have to get off your butt and drive into what are usually the seedier parts of town.  You may also have to go to multiple shops to get a somewhat decent offer.

Local Jewelry Stores

Oftentimes antique jewelry and/or jewelry of quality craftsmanship can be worth more than the value of the actual metal it contains.  If your jewelry falls into either of those categories, jewelry stores will usually provide you with higher compensation than refiners and, to a lesser extent, pawn shops.   The drawback is that you will most likely have to drive around to multiple stores to get the best price.


Ebay also allows you to take advantage of the added value of your antique and/or high-craftsmanship gold jewelry.   The nice thing about selling your gold jewelry on eBay is that you can ensure you will get a higher price than you would from the refiner by listing it with a minimum reserve price that is above the price of scrap gold.   This option may be a bit easier than driving around to various jewelers, but the payout time is dependent on how long it takes to find a buyer.

Gold Parties

Gold parties such as My Gold Party and Party 4 Gold are the latest craze where friends get together, share some party snacks and meet with a gold buyer who assesses their jewelry.  In many cases, cash is paid on the spot.  The host or hostess gets a commission based upon the party’s total take.  If you are selling, it doesn’t get much easier than this.  However, payouts are not much better than other refiners.

Personally, I have no intention of selling my gold.  It is my opinion that the value of gold is destined to go higher over the long run. Besides, gold is an inflation hedge that protects your wealth against the declining value of the dollar — so it makes sense to hold on to it if the government is going to continue to debase our national currency by conjuring trillions of new dollars out of thin air.

But hey, if you need to raise some quick cash, it may be your only alternative.

With that, I see the TiVo has finished recording the marathon.  It’s time to break open a bag of Cheetos (the puffed kind, of course) and a pour myself a cold drink, because I plan on watching Kevin James and Leah Rimini with no further commercial interruptions.

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