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A Golden Opportunity

A Golden Opportunity

With gold prices at an all-time high, many Americans are trading in their bling for bucks at pawn shops, jewelers, gold shows, and the like. Others hesitate. Is it worth the effort?  Do they have enough gold to sell? They worry about being cheated or regretting their decision down the line. These are all valid concerns and ones that I mulled over seriously before taking the plunge. This week’s post is about my experience and some tips I picked up along the way.

After researching online and talking to a local jeweler, I decided to use Goldfellow, an online buyer. Goldfellow has a good reputation and I personally have had a positive experience with them. (I’ve sold gold there four times now.)  How you decide to dispose of your unwanted gold is up to you. If you have a jeweler or pawn dealer you trust, that may be the way to go, but those who don’t may want to consider an online buyer, just be careful. All gold buyers are not created equal.

One of the benefits of dealing with Goldfellow is the excellent job they do of educating sellers about the process. Their website is a good place to go to educate yourself even if you decide to sell your gold elsewhere.

What Have You Got?          

When you sell gold this way, it is important to understand that it is going for scrap. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for it, how fine the workmanship is, or how dear it is to you. It will be analyzed for content, melted down, and processed to remove base metals. Despite grandma’s insistence that her bracelet is “solid gold,” jewelry never is. Pure gold is too soft and always has a little something added for strength. Higher karat weight means greater gold content. If you have an antique necklace, by a known designer, you may do better selling it as jewelry on eBay.  Gold coins are also tricky. Some are currently not worth as much as they once were for their rarity as they are for their gold content, but this is not always the case. Consult a coin dealer before selling old coins for scrap. Sure bets are broken or damaged items, earrings that are missing their mates, gold fillings (hopefully ones that have already fallen out), or pieces that are so ugly that you don’t want them and neither would anyone else. There is also great satisfaction in getting cash for an item that has negative associations—wedding ring from a disastrous marriage for instance—and buying something that makes you smile instead.

If you have a number of items with which you are willing to part, a jeweler’s loupe can help you get a heads up on their content. Some things look gold but are actually sterling silver with a barely-there gold overlay. These are often stamped with “925” whereas gold is indicated in karat weight such as 14K or 18K.  I bought a loupe on eBay for about $3.00 that is adequate for my purposes. This is not necessary, the buyer will test the item and let you know the content before you agree to sell, but it’s kind of fun anyway.

How It Works

NOTE: This description is based on my experience with Goldfellow. Others may charge for shipping, etc. Make sure you understand the terms of the transaction before agreeing to sell to anyone. Enthusiastic though I am about this company, I am not a paid shill for Goldfellow, much as I might like to be!

  1. Go to the Goldfellow website to register.They will provide you with a pre-paid FedEx packing slip, a packing list to fill out and enclose with your items, and a list of shippers near you who will accept the package. This process costs you nothing but the paper and printer ink you use to print out the documents.
  2.  Sort items by type. Write in the number of  rings, bracelets, coins, etc.
  3.  Provide your driver’s license number and sign the packing form.
  4.  Put the form along with the items in a Zip-loc bag or an envelope.
  5.  Pick up a Fed-Ex envelope that accommodates the packing slip and put the items inside. The package is pre-insured by Goldfellow for up to $1,000.
  6.  Drop the envelope off at any Fed-Ex shipping location. You do not have to pay anything.
  7.  In a couple of days, Goldfellow will either call or email you that they have received your package.
  8.  Shortly thereafter, in my case it’s usually in 3 to 5 hours, Goldfellow will contact you again to tell you your settlement is ready.
  9.  Sign in on their website and see what they have determined you have in terms of gold content and weight and how much they are willing to give you for it.
  10.  If you’re satisfied with the offer, click on the appropriate box and they will mail you a check. If not, indicate that you don’t want to sell and they will return your items to you unharmed. The return shipment does not cost you anything either.

I live in California and Goldfellow is in Florida, yet for me, the entire process takes less than a week. Goldfellow is especially sensitive to the fact that many of their customers need money yesterday and do an outstanding job of turnaround. In fact, in one case, I had trouble with a damaged check and they reissued it immediately and even offered to wire me the funds if I didn’t want to wait.

Is It Worth It?

In my case, absolutely! I’m not typical in the sense that I have inherited the result of my mother-in-law’s home shopping sprees and so have a fair amount to liquidate, but one example is the 18K gold chain, medium width, choker length, that netted me over $500. The price of gold was much lower when my MIL originally purchased it, so I’m sure I ended up getting more than she paid for it. (A similar chain bought today might be better sold as jewelry.) A friend of mine sold a gold filling for $50. Creepy? Sure, but hey, 50 bucks! Goldfellow buys sterling silver, too, but the pay day is a lot less. Personally, I’m waiting for the price of silver to rise before selling any of that. In any case, it costs you basically nothing to find out if you’re sitting on a gold mine or at least a golden egg, and if you get cold feet, you can always decline the offer.

The Last Word

You will no doubt check Yelp! and other reviews to see if Goldfellow has had any complaints. It’s important to realize that this is a competitive business and fictitious online complaints are often posted by other gold buyers hoping to lure you away. Other complaints stem from ignorance about the process: “Gold is selling at $1,700 an ounce. My item weighed a half an ounce but they didn’t offer me anywhere near $850. What a rip-off!” No, your item was not 100% gold and they have to charge something for the service or what would be the point of being in business? Smelting ain’t cheap. For my money, the service and convenience that Goldfellow provides is well worth it. The bottom line:  if you don’t like it, use it, or need it, and if it doesn’t make you smile, get rid of it. I guarantee that check will cheer you up.

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About Denise Shelton

I'm a housewife and mother who previously worked as a writer and editor in media and corporate communications. I have no training in finance, and so offer these thoughts not as advice, but as commentary on what so many Americans are experiencing today.

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