Get to know what your gold jewelry is truly worth before selling: Internet Scambusters #782
Selling your valuable gold jewelry can be a risky business if it falls into the hands of crooked dealers.
But if you need to sell, taking a few precautions can save you a lot of heartache -- and money -- as we explain in this week's issue.
We also have news of a new scam that tricks you into believing your online photo albums have been updated.
Let's get started...
Don't Get Ripped Off When You Sell Jewelry
You see ads everywhere from dealers and individuals who want to buy your old rings and other expensive jewelry.
What do they know that you don't? Mainly, they know the true value and, if they're unscrupulous, will try to trick you into accepting a low-ball offer.
They're the experts and you're not, right?
In fact, there's a lot you can do to balance the odds and avoid getting scammed.
For instance, Jewelers of America (JoA), a sort of trade association representing about 8,000 jewelers in the United States, says one of the most important things you can do is to avoid acting on impulse.
You may be in dire need of that cash when you see a promising ad in your local newspaper. But you should always weigh up the emotional value of items you're thinking of selling before deciding whether to go ahead -- and then take steps to find out what they're worth.
Once you know what you want to sell, it's crucial to get an independent valuation, ideally from someone who isn't planning to buy it. This is especially important if the buyer you're planning to work with is one of those who pay by the value of the weight of gold content.
In some cases, that's the wrong way to sell your gold.
"Designer or antique jewelry could be worth more to sell as a finished piece than for its gold metal," the organization says.
Even if it's just a contemporary gold piece, you need to know the purity of the metal, which is one of the most significant factors affecting its value. Is it 10, 14 or 18 karat gold, or maybe even higher?
Look for a quality mark on the piece - showing the karat number followed by a "k." If it's a European piece, it should be stamped with one of the following numbers: 417 (for 10k gold), 585 (14k), 750 (18k) and 999 (24k). If the piece is stamped "GP" it means it's only gold-plated.
The Value of an Appraisal
An appraisal itself can be quite a complex affair and you still have to beware of ill-informed or crooked dealers. Watch out too for unscrupulous appraisers who offer to over-value items in a written appraisal -- that's illegal in the United States.
You likely will have to pay for a valuation fee -- a charge based on an hourly rate of $200 is normal -- but this could still earn you a lot more money in the long run when you come to sell.
In a recent Washington Post report, an appraiser recalled a customer bringing in a sapphire ring previously valued at $18,000 -- valuable enough you might think -- that he subsequently appraised at almost half a million dollars because of certain rare characteristics.
In another test, the Post received wildly different offers for the same ring, some of them pure rip-offs.
An appraisal, of course, won't tell you how much you'll get but it will give you a benchmark to test the integrity of anyone you're thinking of selling to.
Once you're satisfied you know what you're selling and, if it's a high value piece, you have a written appraisal, you need to find a reputable buyer, such as one that's a JoA member.
Check the name online of anyone you're considering selling to. You'll soon discover if they are less than reputable.
It's best to shop around and get two or three offers too. You may be surprised to find that even among legitimate buyers, prices can vary according to their own valuations and priorities.
JoA also warns that before you leave an item with a potential buyer, be sure you've checked them out and that you have photos and documentation relating to the pieces you're disposing of.
And find out what the company's or individual's reimbursement policy is in the event that a piece is lost.
That raises another issue -- the danger of sending your gold jewelry to an online buyer. If they're not established and reputable, they may not only pitch a low offer but, in a worst-case scenario, you may never see it again.
Once more, it's important to check the reputation of an online dealer. Also, be sure to check their terms and conditions. For instance, the small print might say that if you don't respond to their offer within, say, 10 business days, it's considered a done deal and they'll send you a check instead.
By the way, if you're a buyer rather than a seller, watch out for scammers trying to offload imitation gold and other poor value jewelry items.
Check out our earlier issue of jewelry scams: How To Avoid Gemstone and Jewelry Scams.
Alert of the Week
Have you received an email seemingly from Google's photo management service Picasa, with a subject line like "We add new photos to your album"?
Notice the poor English usage. So, if you click on the "View Albums" link, don't be surprised if you end up somewhere you don't want to be, like an overseas pharmacy peddling drugs of uncertain origin.
Give it a miss.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!