Gold party: Thar's gold in that there cheap necklace

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Remember the 80s? Gold was about $300 an ounce and every little girl had some pretty little flimsy gold jewelry. The way I remember it, my aunts and uncles' default all-occasion gift was a little locket or pendant. I was not a fussy little girl, and I often ended up with tangles of fragile gold chains in a pretty box.

If I'm to believe the people behind My Gold Party, I should run, not walk, to my parents' house and unearth that pretty box and its handfuls of tangled Christmas and birthday gifts. The idea: you buy a kit from the web site, only $699.50 (!!!) will get you a digital scale, a gold tester (the "GXL-24 Pro evaluates the gold karatage in the common 6 to 24 karat range used in the jewelry industry. This will assist you in determining the gold purity"), the My Gold Party book. Oh, and a magnification loupe, so you can feel like a real pawn shop owner.

With gold at $1,000 per ounce, it seems like such an obvious concept: melt the once-cheap and broken stuff down, get cash. But it turns out you don't have to throw a party or use vastly expensive equipment to weigh your scrap jewelry down; a competing gold recycling service, Gold Kit, will send you an envelope for free -- according to the web site, they'll send you a check immediately.

There's no telling which of these services provides you the better value for your junky jewelry ounce. But I'm leery of any money-making concept with that much sparkle and upfront cost. Books should not cost $59.50, unless they're text books, and we all know why those are so expensive. If you think the concept of having a party where everyone makes money is great, by all means, gather your friends together and have 'em bring their gold, grab a kitchen scale and have someone take the result to a refinery. But this just makes way more sense as a simple act of recycling than a shindig. [Update: Tom Barlow has a great set of considerations before you sell your gold.]

Or you could get a pickup truck and go around the neighborhood picking up scrap metal, like my husband's friend, Jose. It's not nearly so glamorous, but I bet you'd make just as much money.

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Make cash from metal: How to turn junk into dollars
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Gold party: Thar's gold in that there cheap necklace
While businesses are promoting the concept of "gold parties", we prefer the concept of just putting some gold in an envelope and sending it to a broker. The good ones will email you immediately to tell you how much they're willing to give you for your gold. < a href="http://goldprice.org/buying-gold/2005/12/selling-scrap-gold.html">Gold price.org has a good primer on how to sell your gold, or you could just try your local pawn shop. It's a good idea to remove any non-gold valuables first, if possible (for instance, pry out gems from their settings). And Tom Barlow has an excellent warning for you to read BEFORE you sell your gold!
Depending on the size of your steel, you can get between $6 and $7 per 100 pounds; it may not seem a lot, but steel is heavy and a few lengths of left-behind construction fencing could end up netting you $20 or $30 at your local recycling center.
Copper has gotten so valuable that thieves have been stealing public and private art made from the malleable metal to sell for scrap. I wouldn't suggest going THAT route to make cash, but certainly don't throw away left over copper roof materials, old copper pipes, or small sculptures; it's worth your while to sell them at your local recycling center.
At $0.93 per pound as of March 2007, this soda can is worth about 3 cents -- or, almost as much as most states with can and bottle return laws charge per each. I think it's time I loaded up the bike trailer!
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