Selling unused or damaged gold jewelry is one way to make some cash and recycle this precious metal. According to BankRate.com, the price of gold rose 70 percent between 2008 and 2010. Gold-filled jewelry is made by fusing layers of metal together, with the top layer being real gold. Since it contains only a fraction of gold, these pieces are worth much less than 10-karat, 14-karat or 24-karat jewelry, but some buyers will take them for the gold they can extract in meltdown.
Know Your Gold
Look for a stamp on the piece. Gold-filled jewelry will be marked with numbers such as 14/20gf. The top number indicates the karat of gold used in the top layer. In this case, 14-karat gold was used. The bottom number indicates the total units of metal used in making the jewelry. In this example, the gold makes up 1/20th of the total weight of the jewelry, or 5 percent.
Weigh the piece on a jeweler’s scale if available. Gold is often sold in pennyweights. If using a kitchen scale, calculate that each 1 1/2 grams on the kitchen scale equals 1 pennyweight. Twenty pennyweights equal 1 troy ounce of gold.
Keep in mind that even gold jewelry is not pure. Fourteen-karat jewelry is only 65 percent gold. A gold-filled piece, with only 5 percent gold in its volume, is going to command a much smaller price because there is so much less gold to be extracted.
Find a Buyer
Find buyers at local jewelers, coin shops and pawn shops. There are numerous online buyers for gold. Some are legitimate, and many are not. It is best if you can take your jewelry to a local buyer and have its value assessed in front of you. The value of jewelry is often more than in its content, but in the artisan design. Well-crafted pieces may be more valuable than their weight in gold.
Check the Better Business Bureau for online or other unfamiliar buyers. Look for a rating of A- or more. According to the "Wall Street Journal," as many as 500 complaints against gold buyers were made by September 2010, compared to 111 in 2008.
Get two or three bids before committing to a sale.
Keep expectations in check. Although gold sold for an all-time high of $1,388 an ounce in 2010, buyers may pay only a fraction of meltdown value. Some pay as little at 10 percent. In 2010, Kay Jewelers was paying 50 percent of meltdown value. Coin shops may pay as much as 80 percent.
Start small. Once you find a buyer for your gold, sell only a few pieces to see if the buyer meets your expectations. If satisfied with the transaction, take the lot of your jewelry chest and reap the cash rewards for your gold-filled jewelry.