With gold hovering around $1,000 per ounce, perhaps you have been eyeing some of your old jewelry and seeing dollar signs. You pick up the bracelet, estimate the weight, do a little dance and hightail it over to the local jeweler.
You are not alone. This scene is playing out many times a day in upscale areas such as Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks and Moorpark. But don’t plan that big Hawaiian vacation just yet. Or even dinner at the new seafood place. You need to know the facts about selling your old jewelry and, when you do, you will realize that the sentimental value may outweigh the cash value.
Yes, gold has scraped the stratosphere as a trading commodity or a trading fund. But those prices do not translate to what you will get for your old gold. Local jewelers say they have seen a definite increase in people selling their old jewelry but they usually walk away with only some pocket change.
David Pardo has owned Anderson Jewelers in Moorpark since 1985 and said he has seen a change in the number of people selling their own jewelry.
“It started when gold hit $500, there was a rush of people coming in,” Pardo said. “When you have things like the war weakening the dollar, gold started a run up. As we got closer and closer to the $1,000 mark, we had more people selling their gold to us.”
But what you receive may not be what you expect.
“Everybody works on a hedge,” Pardo said. “So what happens if the price drops? No one wants to be burned. Everybody wants to make a little bit of a profit.”
Jewelers said the way it works is they first remove any stones and then have the 24k gold distilled from the jewelry. And you may not even know precisely how much gold is in the item you want to sell.
Aside from the usual pins and bracelets and necklaces, brooches and lockets, some people bring in very personal items. Items to which they are no longer attached.
“Dental gold is very popular,” Pardo said. “It is kind of gross. I get them with the teeth and everything. Yuck! You have to take a hammer and break it.”
Pat Curts, owner of Hampshire Jewelry in Thousand Oaks, agreed with Pardo. “As for dental gold, I buy it as long as you put a towel over it and chop the teeth out,” she said
Down the street, The Gold Store in Thousand Oaks has been in business for nearly 40 years. Al Okhovat has owned it for the past five years. He said his store will only pay for the gold and not the alloys.
“Sometimes it is marked wrong so we have to test for the amount of pure gold,” Okhovat said. “First we have to send it to a refinery to change it to pure gold, then we use it to remake jewelry.”
Okhavat said people seem to be aware that the higher value of gold is temporary.
“People are knowing that it is going to be like a bubble,” he said. “Someday that bubble will break.”
The jewelers said the type of person who is selling their gold cuts across all ages and economic situations. Bob Winkler, senior salesman at The Gold Store, said the gold rush began at the beginning of March.
“They were bringing bags in,” Winkler said. “It was older people, younger people, people who got gold for their wedding, and they were giving it up because it was cheap when they bought it.”
Winkler said some of his older customers explained that they have worn the jewelry for many years and don’t have anyone to leave it to.
“They come in and say they don’t want it anymore,” he said. “They want the money to spend it.”
Pat Curts said she has seen a different type of patron who now wants to sell their jewelry instead of purchasing a new piece.
“Since gold has gone up so high, it has changed business,” she said. “Right now, times are tough and gold is high. This is a pretty lucrative area.”
None of the customers selling jewelry wanted to discuss it publicly.
According to Pardo, nearly 90 percent of the sellers are women. Pardo said he has seen a broad spectrum of people selling their gold, although they usually do not appear to be desperate.
However, there were a couple of exceptions where the need was quite pressing.
“We’ve only had one person sell their jewelry because they couldn’t pay rent or were going into foreclosure,” Pardo said. “And we had another lady who needed the money to help pay a vet bill. She had jewelry laying around the house, and her dog needed to have a leg amputated and she needed to pay the bill.”
Then there are the customers who believe that they will get a real bargain if they scour the antiques stores looking to buy older gold pieces. According to Sandra Cota, owner of Antiques and More in Agoura Hills, it has been mostly middle-aged men who are looking for a great deal on gold jewelry. She said they appear to be fairly well-heeled and go straight for the stamped gold.
“They think they are getting a deal with the price of gold up,” Cota said. “They are looking for serious bargains and some make unrealistic offers. They say the reason for the low offer is that the economy is very bad and they can get really good things for really low prices.”
Buyers and sellers, young and old, affluent and those just scraping by, women and men, the astronomical price of gold seems to have grabbed the attention of the public.