Selling Gold? Expect Less

jewelry cash scaleThe scenario: Late July. Gold prices are above $1,600 an ounce. I have a brilliant idea: sell my broken gold bracelet for some easy money!

The reality: At a local San Francisco jewelry store, my bracelet is weighed and tested. A calculator is produced, and I get … drrrrum roll…. a whopping $66.

The explanation: Gold jewelry that can’t be resold “as is” is priced based on its so-called scrap value or melt value, which factors in the percentage of gold in the item, its weight and the current price of gold.

My 14 karat bracelet was 58.3% gold, and weighed 4.43 grams. That made it worth about $134 on the day I sold it. (If the bracelet had been 18k, or 75% gold, it would have been worth roughly $173.) My total haul was only $66 because you get anywhere from about 10% to 85% of the melt value.

Lesson learned: Your jewelry box is probably not a treasure chest. Still, to get the best price (which I didn’t), shop around, haggle, or pool your jewelry with friends for more bargaining leverage. Or, as you would with a used car, negotiate a trade-in for another piece of jewelry.

Golden opportunity? What’s the best way you’ve unloaded unwanted goods for cash?