Can't pay the rent? Throw a Gold Party!

With the price of gold jumping to an all-time high, gold is hot again. The only question is, how do you get rid of your old trinkets? Scam cash-for-gold sites and pawn shops will give you about half of what your jewels are worth, but why bother? "Gold parties" are where it's at, and they're filled with girls, gab, Gewürztraminer--and of course, lots of green.

Gold parties have been around for quite some time, but they gained momentum after the recent crash. Denise Dorman, business owner and gold-party newbie, says that the parties are so popular in her Geneva, Ill. suburb--located just west of Chicago--that billboards advertising sell-your-gold events have been popping up on the Kennedy Expressway, a major highway in Chicago. Dorman decided to host a gold party after seeing that a friend banked $400 in commissions after hosting an event at her home. The friend used Gold Party Chicago for her fête because the company offered her 30 percent more for her gold pieces than a private gold buyer. Now, Dorman plans to do the same.

"Think of it as 'found money,'" says marketing and networking guru, Michele Alessi, who's hosted gold parties at NFL players' homes and local SPAs in Baltimore over the past year promoting plastic surgery services of her employer, Dr. Jeff Horowitz, a Baltimore area plastic surgeon. "People don't even realize they have money lying around in their homes," she adds. And if you don't need the money to pay off your rent for the month, then this is the best way to get cash and use it on yourself without feeling guilty about it, suggests Alessi.

Alessi's parties have been successful--both for her business and for her expanding network. She got the idea to host gold parties while thinking of affordable ways to market Dr. Horowitz's services without having to shell out for advertising. Since her close friend is a gold buyer, the two teamed up and hosted some gold parties, one of which helped gal pals of an unnamed Baltimore Ravens player's wife pay for Botox services. This gold party--similar to most of Alessi's events--was more of a gleeful gal-gathering than a quick cash-making mission, with women gabbing over drinks and hors d'oeuvres while collecting money for their old jewelery to spend on brow-threading, massages and Botox injections, all of which were, of course, available for purchase right at the party.

How was she able to score a big turnout? E-mail blasts, lot of word of mouth, and discount offers on procedures done on the day of the party all helped. Although Alessi doesn't ask for commission at her parties, typically, hostesses walk away with 10 to 12 percent of what the buyer purchased that day, according to

If you're scoffing at the thought of making commission off your friends' sales, then think of gold parties as ways to get back at those annoying Avon and Mary Kay parties you were guilt-tripped into attending, something which Dorman kept in mind. "[I decided] to get even with all those folks out there who invite me to every darned jewelry, candle, Tupperware, Tastefully Simple and Pampered Chef party. I refuse to host any of those, so this is great payback," she says.

Interested in hosting a gold party? Here's what to do:

Calculate the value of your gold

Higher karat gold is more valuable and since you're getting paid per ounce, it is essential that you weigh your jewelry. Gold is usually weighed in penny-weights or troy ounces. But if you use a good kitchen scale and input the karats and weight into a Dendritics online calculator, you will get your gold's value based on its current market value, as this calculator translates the weights. Also, be sure to check out sites like Marketwatch or Kitco for the most up-to-date information on gold prices.

Do your homework

Research gold companies in your area. The companies will send a gold buyer to your home to appraise the value of your trinkets and offer a sum. In order to get top dollar for your jewelry, read up on each company on the Internet. Has it been featured in a news outlet? Does it have good reviews? Also--and this is most important--check the company's reputation on the Better Business Bureau Web site to prevent yourself and your guests from doing business with crooked dealers. It never hurts to get a second opinion, too, so if you have the time, take your gold to a pawn shop and see what they offer there. Most of the time, pawn shops only give 30-75 percent of the market value.

Spread the word

Post flyers in your neighborhood and your community's clubhouse, call friends, send evites or e-mail blasts, and get everyone excited about your gold party. Remember, the more people you get to come and sell their unwanted jewelry, the higher your commission will be.

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