Saturday, November 18, 2017
Business

What you need to know to sell your gold

RECOMMENDED READING


The woman behind a counter at Gold Pros in Westfield Countryside mall found "14K" stamped on a clasp of a chain my sister gave me when I graduated from high school. She poured acid on a few links and polished a spot until it turned brown — proving it was real gold. She weighed it and made me an offer: $80.

Not bad, I thought. I had been prepared for less. But aloud, I demurred. "Hmmm. I was just curious."

Hold on, she said, she would call her manager. Her next offer: $100.

I marveled inwardly at the jump, but I didn't plan to sell the chain, which I intended to use in my quest to find the highest selling price of gold.

She was eager to buy and had my necklace behind the counter, out of my reach, as she called her manager again. Final offer: $120.

• • •

The gold rush has corner shops popping up with human signs advertising: "We Pay More."

Clearly, money is being made. Gold prices started rising about five years ago, following fears of a faltering U.S. economy that sent investors toward tangible currencies. Gold traded for a little more than $400 per ounce in 2005. It has more than tripled in the years since, despite a significant drop in recent weeks.

Traveling buyers set up shop in hotel ballrooms and in homes where friends gathered for gold-buying parties. People scoured jewelry boxes and even pried gold fillings loose from teeth.

It wasn't hard to see why. When I picked this gold chain from a basket under my sink several weeks ago, gold was selling for $1,650 per ounce.

• • •

My second stop was Almas Jewelry & Watch Repair on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa, where a man told me his acid test showed my gold was less than 14 karat. Maybe it was 8 or 10, he said, and offered me $20.

At Goldmax on Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, a buyer wearing a suit offered me water, soda or juice and a chair.

His job was to educate me, he said, and save me the gas and time of driving around town. Goldmax, with 259 stores nationally and 28 in Florida, is the country's largest gold buyer in the United States, he said. They could guarantee the best price because they dealt in bulk.

This time, my chain passed the acid test as 14 karat. That means it's a mixture of metals with 58.3 percent gold, he told me. At that moment, an ounce of pure gold was trading at $1,664, he said, referring to his computer screen where the price changed every five minutes.

His offer: $82.89. If I accepted, he would write me a check and my chain would head to a Salt Lake City refinery where it would be melted into bullion.

I do the math later. An ounce of gold equals 20 pennyweights. At the price of $1,664 per ounce, each pennyweight would cost $83.20. My chain, which includes other metals, consists of 1.92 pennyweights of gold. ($83.20 x 1.92 ounce = $159.74).

Of course, there is the cost of doing business.

When I said I wanted to check some other shops, he called his manager and got me the employee pricing, guaranteeing me the highest he could go: $95.61.

The only way that offer could be beat, he said, was by a jeweler who offered partial store credit. He mentioned an amount I might be offered by such a jeweler: $150.

• • •

A pawn and jewelry store on U.S. 19 in Port Richey called the Golden Nugget has a little of everything. Smartphones and gems and Masonic rings and tools and an AK-47. A shark fossil sits above a stack of silver bars. A man behind a counter had a 9mm pistol on his hip. Next to him sat the shop's pit bull, Ivy, who wears a pink collar with a tiara on her tag.

He weighed my chain and offered me $112 — "if it tests out," he said.

I told him I had an offer of $120. He said he could match it. I told him politely that I would think about it.

Did I really want to haggle with a guy with a pit bull and a AK?

One more stop: a former neighbor who owns a jewelry shop in South Tampa.

For me, he says, $125.

He had beat my best offer by a wimpy $5. Still, I felt confident I'd found the top of the market.

I took the money.

He took my gold to a local refinery.

Later, I call the refinery and asked if it will buy gold from me. No. It buys only from companies, jewelers and pawnshops and won't tell me how much it pays.

I checked back with the buyers who offered the lowest bids.

Goldmax did not return several calls. At Alma's, the man who said my gold was less than 14 karat stood by his acid test. He couldn't risk paying for 10 karat gold only to find it was less than that. He offered to test again, and said he has a good reputation and had not been interested in buying my gold, based on the test.

I believed him. But I had learned that finding a reasonable offer requires effort and bargaining is part of the process.

Don't trust your gold to one set of scales or one acid test, and don't take the first offer.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3431.

Comments

Stolen car crashes in St. Pete, leaving passenger, 15, with life threatening injuries

Two boys in a stolen car struck a dip in the roadway and crashed into a tree, leaving the 15-year-old passenger with life-threatening injuries, St. Petersburg police said.The crash happened about 11:25 a.m. Sunday as the car sped west on 11th Avenue ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Search suspended for missing Cortez boater who left from Egmont Key

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for a missing 63-year-old boater on Sunday evening, two days after he and his dog were reported missing five miles northwest of Mead Point, just inland from Anna Maria Island.On Friday, Fraser Horne of Cortez...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Parents, children welcome downsized MOSI in Tampa

Parents, children welcome downsized MOSI in Tampa

TAMPA — Avery, 6, slid his sneakers up the side of 200-pound rubber tire from the space shuttle Columbia and sat on top.His father, Ilder Jeannot, called for him to get off of it — usually climbing on museum displays is frowned upon. But in the new M...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sunday Conversation: Tona Bell invites customers to enjoy a ‘digital detox’

Sunday Conversation: Tona Bell invites customers to enjoy a ‘digital detox’

Like so many small businesses, Saturday will represent a special day for Paper Seahorse owner Tona Bell. Bell’s cozy bungalow business at 211 S Howard features paper and stationery, specialty pens, vintage typewriters and crafts classes. It will offe...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

As economists predicted, the tough hit that Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long-lived. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 jobs it lost in September. According to state figures released Friday...
Published: 11/17/17
Apple will postpone release of  HomePod

Apple will postpone release of HomePod

The Washington PostApple said Friday that it’s pushing back its plans for a Siri-powered smart speaker until sometime early next year.The HomePod speaker was announced in June, with an initial launch date set for December. Apple said that its smart s...
Published: 11/17/17
HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

ST. PETERSBURG — Good Housekeeping and St. Petersburg-based HSN have chosen five finalists for their entrepreneur competition. The partners are searching for a novel item to promote as endorsed by the Good Housekeeping Seal, denoting reliability and ...
Published: 11/17/17
Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

How are we doing?That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining...
Published: 11/17/17
Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

The main course was expected: a pair of sleek silver Tesla semi-trucks that get 500 miles per charge, go from zero to 60 mph in five seconds and — if the hype is to be believed — promise to single-handedly transform the commercial trucking industry.B...
Published: 11/17/17
We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? D...
Published: 11/17/17