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Selling gold: Be skeptical and smart

By Kayla Sedbrook

More people are considering selling lone earrings, old class rings, and other unused jewelry as gold prices increase, according to the Ohio Commerce Department.

Economic fears have pushed the price of gold to $1,616 an ounce, up 18% since the beginning of the year (USAToday.com).

From local jewelers and pawn shops to mall kiosks, mail order companies, and gold parties, if you want to sell some gold, you'll find no shortage of buyers.

But while you may think selling gold is a sure-fire way to make some easy money, use caution. The Ohio Commerce Department urges sellers to:

Work with licensed precious metals dealers

Businesses should be licensed by your state to buy gold. Also look for buyers who've been around for at least a few years. And, use your head: If the buyer operates out of the town barbershop, you're probably not getting the best deal. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The BBB of the United States offers consumer and businesses information in order to alert them of fraud and provide information on ethical business practices. The BBB has received 408 complaints against gold, silver, and platinum dealers already this year. For all of 2010 it received only 581 complaints, according to USAToday.com.

Contact a neutral appraiser

Have unique jewelry or items that are family heirlooms appraised before selling to a buyer who pays by weight. Collectible jewelry could be worth more in its original form than the gold it's made of.

Shop around

Gold prices vary significantly depending on whom you sell it to and the price of gold at the time of sale. Ask multiple buyers what they'd pay for your gold. Look for familiar local businesses-those you can trust such as the jeweler who sold you your engagement ring. Shop for a trusted resource for selling gold just as you'd shop for a trusted resource when purchasing jewelry. The type of transaction also will affect the price. For example, if you sell at a gold "party," the host or hostess and the company throwing the party will get a cut. Likewise, gold dealers who work out of mall kiosks may pay less for gold because they have to pay salaries and rent.

Stay on top of prices

Check websites such as Kitco.com to find current prices. Kitco is a website that provides updated quotes and charts for metal prices and buys and sells precious metals. It's important to check daily if you are planning on selling your gold because their prices fluctuate day to day.

Be wary about selling gold through the mail

There most likely will be several venues to sell gold within your community. But, if you decide to sell it through the mail, have jewelry appraised before sending so you have proof of value in case of loss. Check the buyer's reimbursement policy. To check if an Internet buyer is legitimate, look for an actual location and mailing address. Be leery of any company that doesn't have contact information or that has typographical errors and misspellings on its website. Find out about company policies; for example, can you refuse the sale amount if you aren't happy with it? Find out if the company is insured, and take photos of the pieces you're mailing just in case there are problems. Antonio from Des Moines, IA found what he thought was a legitimate website to sell his gold on. This online company expected him to send his gold through the mail before sending him any money.  However, after some consideration, he decided to research to make sure the company was trustworthy. "To my surprise, I found many online blogs accusing this website of fraud and failure to pay what customer's gold was worth. Thankfully I did the research; otherwise, I would have been a victim of this company's fraud. It is very important to research before selling gold through the mail to an online company."

Published 1-9-2012





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