Since the stock market started going on a bender again, gold has suddenly become everyone’s favorite metal.
With the precious metal trading up to a record-setting $1,800 per ounce, gold-buying stores are also setting records as people bring in their old jewelry, coins and even their gold teeth to cash in on the latest gold rush.
“Our company is going crazy,” said Jerry Lang, store operations director for Midwest Gold Buyers. “We’re setting new records every day.”
With gold-buying stores multiplying like bunnies, it’s hard to know which shop will give you the best price for the single gold earring or broken gold watch.
As a public service, Orland Park Patch editor Ben Feldheim and Oak Lawn Patch editor Lorraine Swanson gathered some gold trinkets and went out in search of the best gold-selling consumer experience.
Gathering Up the Gold
Patch doesn’t have the same budget as, say, a Fox TV news affiliate where we could go out and buy identical gold necklaces for our gold-selling experiment. So Lorraine went shopping in her jewelry box and came up with two pair of 18-kt gold earrings and some other jewelry that turned out not to be gold at all.
Determining the gold closing price for last Thursday—about $1,700 per Troy ounce—we divided the closing price by 31.1 to get the cost per gram, about $52. Armed with this new knowledge, thanks to Wikipedia (and you know if it’s on Wikipedia, it’s accurate), we headed out to sell some gold.
GBC Jewelers Cash for Gold, 6340 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn
“You should have come in yesterday when gold was selling for $1,800,” said Jim, of GBC.
We went through the first of the day’s many gold tests, including the scratch test where our gold was dragged across an unglazed title. A nitric acid solution was applied to the scratches to determine the jewelry’s karat, if in fact it was real gold.
Jim also performed the magnet test, which involved waving a 10-pound magnet over the jewelry to weed out the imposter gold-plated baubles. Lorraine had attempted her own magnet test at home using a refrigerator magnet chip-clip, but somehow it was not as scientific as Jim’s 10-pound jeweler’s magnet.
Both pairs of earrings were found to be 18-kt gold, and an infant’s bracelet that, although it didn’t have a stamp on it, was deemed golden.
The offer: $188
Midwest Gold Buyers ‘Cash for Gold,’ 9540 S. Cicero Ave., Oak Lawn
Next we headed over to Midwest Gold Buyers, or MGB, with our plastic grocery bag full of gold and faux gold jewelry, where Judge Judy was playing on the flat-screen TV.
The gold purveyor, Liz, was busy with another customer but told us to help ourselves to bottled water and gold-wrapped chocolate coins, which confused Ben because he thought he missed Hanukkah.
Informed that the next gold truck was due any minute, Liz, the gold purveyor, tested our gold trifles and said the infant’s bracelet that was determined to be gold at the first store wasn’t gold.
The first offer we got was $130 for our 8.314-kt's worth of gold, along with a 20 percent coupon bringing the offer up to $199.
When we still didn’t bite, Liz asked us to wait while she called her manager. The manager told her to offer us the “friends and family” rate of $249 for our handful of miniscule gold.
The offer was good only until 4 p.m., when the gold truck was due to arrive to take the afternoon’s haul to the refinery.
We told her we’d think about it. She seemed a little perturbed when we wouldn’t sell.
The offer: $249 (FYI: MGB is not a pawn shop.)
Our next stop was MariLou’s Fine Jewelry. Lorraine went in alone while Ben worked in the car on a breaking story about an Orland Park resident busted for possession of child pornography.
Lorraine told the very nice sales associate at the store that she had been shopping her fine gold jewelry around at other gold-buying establishments.
“You’re taking a gamble waiting,” the sales associate said when Lorraine said she’d wait to see if gold climbed back up to $1,800.
The offer: $191
Gold and More, 7220 W. Benton Drive, Frankfort
The laid-back owners looked at the earrings, did the gold tests and made us an offer. And that infant’s bracelet—they said that was gold too.
The offer: $261
We didn’t sell our gold, but Lorraine did buy four DVDs for $10. We’re going back.
Some Final Golden Rules
- Some gold experts are advising consumers to wait to sell their gold because gold is going to be over $2,000 soon.
- Go to several different cash-for-gold stores like we did to get the best price for your gold.
- Make sure it’s a business that weighs your gold in grams, rather than pennyweights. You’ll get more cash.
- Antique gold pieces, designer gold jewelry, or gold jewelry with gems such as diamonds or rubies, is probably worth more than if it were melted down. Take the jewelry to an independent jewelry appraiser.
- People with gold coins are also advised to take them to a coin collector or appraiser.
Actually, selling gold, or pretending to sell it, wasn’t the sleazy experience that we thought it would be.
Orland Park Patch editor Ben Feldheim contributed to this report. He also drove.