Cashing in on some Old Jewelry

A pile of gold like this can be worth thousands of dollars.
A pile of gold like this can be worth thousands of dollars.

After watching some YouTube videos from PawnBroker Pickers, my wife and I went through our jewelry and separated it into the following three piles:

  1. Old jewelry from deceased relatives that we never wore and were never going to. This included tie bars, cuff links, stick pins, old class rings, and three wedding bands.
  2. Old jewelry of our own we didn’t think we’d ever wear again. Since this is the second marriage for each of us, we both had wedding rings and she had an engagement ring.
  3. Jewelry we wanted to keep.

We then decided to try selling those in the first pile as an experiment to see if we could make some good money on old gold. Because these were old pieces in outdated designs, often missing a stone or two, they would only have value as scrap. A friend recommended a big pawn shop in one city we occasionally go to, so earlier this week, we headed to the big city hoping to strike it rich.

Know the Value of your Scrap Gold

So that we wouldn’t get taken advantage of, I wanted to know the value of what we were going to sell. While I knew we wouldn’t get 100 percent of that value, I expected we would get around 85 percent. If they offered us less than 80 percent, I was going to send the jewelry off to a refinery via mail. They would pay closer to 90 percent, but I would have to pay for registered mail.

I used a jeweler loop to look at each piece and find out how many karats each one was and created separate piles of 10K, 14K and 18K gold. I also had a pile of unknown jewelry that didn’t look like costume jewelry but didn’t have a marking on it.

Then I weighed each item on a tiny digital scale. I entered the weights and the karats on an app to determine the value of each.

For example, we had two old class rings which were only 10K. While they weighed 11.17 grams together, 10K is only about 42 percent gold, so they only had 4.65 grams of gold in them. That made them worth approximately $300. Compare that two 18K rings (which are 75% pure gold) weighing a combine 8.24 grams. I calculated their worth to be about $400.

I made a list of everything we were going to sell and I calculated I would want $1,240 but would settle for anything over $1,100. That much is well worth a trip to the big city, so off we went.

Cashing In

The pawn shop was huge. Definitely the largest one I had ever been in. I had to wait my turn, and then a sales person helped me. She checked all the jewelry, including those that I couldn’t prove were gold. It turned out that three pieces were not, but that several were. They used a specialized X-ray fluorescence machine to determine the contents of each piece, and one of the small pieces marked 18K actually turned out to be 22K. Wow!

Our total ended up being more than $1,400. Because I was expecting closer to $1,200, you can imagine I was happy with that number. I filled out some paperwork, and they counted out ten $100 bills, eight $50 bills, and a few smaller ones. The entire process from arrival to departure took less than an hour.

We distributed the money between ourselves and various pockets and headed home. I made sure no one followed us out of the store or the lot, and I kept an eye out on the highway as well. Once I was sure the coast was clear, I bought my wife lunch and told her we had just paid for a year’s worth of firewood. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I think having extra firewood is like having money in the bank. She, however, may have other plans for some of the cash.

I expect the next time we go to the city, which might not be for a couple months, we’ll repeat the process with pile number two.

Hidden Assets

If you have old family jewelry just sitting around, I recommend you do the same thing I just did. You can use the money to pay off a credit card, get the car repaired, or buy necessities. If you lose your job, a haul like this can help keep your head above water.

The key to cashing in jewelry for scrap rates is to be able to tell if they are ripping you off. By knowing what the price of gold was and having an app on my phone that tells me what a gram of gold is worth at different karats, I felt confident that I was getting a good deal. Obviously, the pawn shop needs to make money, too, so they won’t pay you 100 percent of the melt value, but scrapping gold can still generate some cash. If the pieces are in excellent condition, very fancy, or if they are made by a famous jeweler, you may be able to get more than scrap value at a jewelry store.

Did I feel bad about selling my great grandmother’s wedding band, which was made in the late 1800s? Maybe for a few moments, but I had never met the woman, and that ring had been in a cardboard box in the gun safe since my mother died more than a decade ago. It wasn’t doing anybody any good. Now that ring will pay for the next load of firewood. Plus, with the total proceeds, I won’t have to go to the ATM for months.

This was profitable enough that I would consider buying scrap gold at any estate or yard sales and then cashing it in. Before I do that, I want to get a rare earth magnet I can use to test metals for plated gold.

Video of the Day

I was a lot more knowledgeable than this customer: