Want to sell some gold? What you need to know as prices rise

Want to sell some gold? What you need to know as prices riseShop around for the best price when selling that single gold earring or broken chain to get some extra cash -- the difference could mean hundreds of dollars more in your pocket.

With gold selling at around $1,197 an ounce today according to GoldPrice.org, an Australian site that tracks global gold prices, those unused pieces of jewelry could add up to some nice change.

Massachusetts' Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation yesterday released the results of a survey of 10 downtown Boston jewelers and found a wide range of offers for a bag of gold jewelry: $485 to $1,000. The bag included a rope chain, a rope bracelet, two rings and a pair of earrings.

A little prep work helps. The state's consumer affairs office gave these tips:
  • Ask your local weights and measures department -- the same local regulators who check gas station pumps, taxi meters, and shop scales for accuracy -- to weigh your gold jewelry for you. That way, you know what you have as well as the karat value of each piece.
  • Research the potential buyer and know who you are dealing with before doing business. The local Better Business Bureau can help and tell you if there are any complaints.
  • Take time to shop around. Try to get five estimates for a good idea of what you should expect to get.
  • Get an appraisal. A local jeweler can tell you how much the piece is worth. Keep in mind you probably won't get that amount because the buyer has to make a profit too.
"Our survey shows significant differences in the prices various jewelers will pay average consumers for their gold. It takes a little legwork and a little time for consumers to make sure they are getting best price for their gold. A few hours of work can mean hundreds of extra dollars," said Barbara Anthony, the state's consumer affairs undersecretary.

When choosing an appraiser, there are some things to keep in mind as well.

The International Society of Appraisers says a full appraisal includes details of the item so it can be identified without photos; the methodology used; a cover letter describing what the appraisal would be used for; and a statement from the appraiser on qualifications to make the appraisal and any financial interest in the item.

The society says to reject an appraisal if it is handwritten or unsigned, the fee is based on contingency or the item's value, and if the appraiser is not willing to defend the report in court.
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