Sell-your-gold parties all the rage as economy tanks

This wasn't your mother's Tupperware party.

A few weeks ago I got invited to a party at a local mom's house. It was a "Jeans/sell your old gold" party. A woman with a truckload of out-of-season high-end denim jeans was coming to sell us $200 pairs of 7 For All Mankind and True Religion jeans for $50. Also: A man who would buy your old gold.

"Old gold?" I asked. Yes. Like old jewelry you've never worn old gold. "Dig through your drawers and you'll find something to sell," my friend told me. "Last time we had this party everyone bought jeans with the money they made selling their old gold." Apparently, as the economy tanks and the price of gold elevates, women all around the country are hosting these kinds of soirees.
With the promise of food and cocktails, I showed up, bearing a handful of old chains and rings of yore, including one heavy gold bracelet given me 17 years ago by a boyfriend long forgotten.

When it was my turn to bat, I placed my bling on a velvet placard in front of a large man, who inspected each piece closely. He separated them into piles: 12-karat gold, 14-karat, and 18-karat. Most of my chains were cheap 12-karat gold. When he got to the bracelet though, he stopped. "This is a nice piece," he told me. Are you sure you want to part with it? He bent over to inspect it more closely with an eye loop.

I hesitated. It was a lovely chained bracelet, heavy, shiny. But in truth It was too dowdy for me, something a lady who lunches might wear. indeed, I'd worn it all of once and it was taking up space in my drawer. In the spirit of downsizing, I said sure. Buy it. I thought maybe I'd get $100 or so.

Instead, I walked away with $480 in cash. My women friends whooped and poured me another margarita. "Tilsner made bank!" they hollered. It was the biggest haul of the night, although the record was still held by the hostess's mother, who sold something the previous party that netted her $1,200. The rest of the night was festive, to say the least, even as talk turned to the economy.

I couldn't help but wonder how shortchanged I was getting on my one worthwhile gold item. For the folks who put on these gold parties, it must be quite a lucrative racket.

And what did I use my windfall on? Spectacularly unsexy items: Groceries. Music class equipment for the girl. Partial rent. Sigh. Such a proletarian end to such a romantic gift.

And no, I did not buy any jeans.
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