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Searching for Best Gold Prices in the Southland

Patch editors shopped several items around gold-buying stores in Oak Lawn, Orland Park and Frankfort to see how the gold-selling process works and to weigh the different offers.

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

Gold and More was a veritable treasure chest of musical instruments, amps, leaf blowers and gold.

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.

Source: American Society of Appraisers

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.

Carin August 17, 2011 at 03:28 PM
This is an interesting article to me as I went on my own search through Orland Park with a quest for the highest price of gold. I only made one stop due to it being Sunday and the other locations in my area were closed. I went into Midwest Gold Buyers and actually had Liz from the Oak Lawn store working in there. She gave me the same garbage of low balling my price. When I said it came no where near what I thought it was worth she 'called her boss' they gave me a slightly higher number good through the end of day and also an even higher number 'dealer to dealer' she called it if I did not walk out the door with it. She also told me that the price of gold had actually dropped $40 and they were using old forms so I am getting an even better deal. Sometimes I wonder how these people sleep at night.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) August 17, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Thanks for the feedback, Carin.
Laurey Olson August 17, 2011 at 07:16 PM
That was a great article. Very practical especially for these times.
Mary Kay Barton August 17, 2011 at 08:39 PM
I loved that article and it answered some questions I had about selling gold.
Christopher August 18, 2011 at 01:56 AM
Most of these places are not giving you a very good deal. If you can find a "postal scale" that can weight in ounces or grams, you should be able to take the daily gold rate for per troy ounce of pure gold (say $1800) or like the article said, divide by 31.1 for per gram ($58/gram). (Letter scale might be in oz, not troy oz so if you weight 1 oz, it will actually be more than 1 troy oz.) Then, almost all gold jewerly will be marked with the carat (in K) on the piece. Pure gold is 24K. If you have 14K that is14/24 or 0.58 pure gold. 18K is 18/24 or 0.75 pure gold. If it is gold plated, it will not have just a "K". So if you have a 14K gold ring weighting 20 grams, if they gave you full price for the gold in it you would have $58/gram * 20 grams * 0.58 pure = $672. If that was weighted in troy oz (20 gram ring = 0.65 troy oz), the calculation would be $1800/troy oz * 0.65 troy oz * 0.58 pure = $678 (slightly different due to rounding). The problem is most of the places I have seen, on this $678 ring, they are only giving you anywhere between 40% - 65% that price ($250 - $400). You should really be able to get around 90% of the current gold price ($610). If you go to these places, ask them what carat you have and how much per gram for that carat. COMPARE! I use Richard Allen Jewelry Buyers, 2500 West Higgins Road #465, Hoffman Estates, IL (847) 882-1908‎ · richardallenjewelers.com They will give you a GREAT price (90%, NOT 40%) of the actual value!
Christopher August 18, 2011 at 02:01 AM
So if today's gold price is $1800/troy oz, that means for 14K gold, they would be get about $33.56/gram. So if you get 90% of that price, you should be getting $30/gram. If they are giving you much less than that per gram, call someone else. I have seen places giving less than $12/gram for 14K gold! IT PAYS TO CALL AROUND!
WA Mama August 18, 2011 at 04:17 AM
Wow, all good stuff to know, both the article and the comments. Thanks everyone! Plus, I loved the way the article was written. Nice job, Lorraine and Ben!

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