Jewelry: Not so shiny

Your old jewelry isn’t worth as much as you think.



From the October 2009 issue of the magazine.


During tough times, people have always raided their jewelry box to come up with ready cash. This recession is no different. Spurred on by the high price of gold and non-stop TV ads promising big bucks for old gold, people have been flocking to trade in their bling.

But how much can you really get for your rings and necklaces? Unfortunately, very little. A jeweller or pawnshop will pay only 25% to 50% of what you bought a diamond ring for in a store. And you’ll get 10% or less of the retail price for jewelry that’s going to be melted down for its gold. “Most people assume jewelry is an investment that rises in value. But that’s an urban myth,” says Debra Sawatzky, a gemologist and estate jewelry appraiser in Toronto.

Even if you have a certificate from a professional attesting to the value of your ring or brooch, don’t expect to receive the amount on the certificate. An appraisal merely represents the retail value of your gems for insurance purposes. The price you paid includes the store’s retail markup and the labor that went into crafting the ring. Jewellers and pawnshops deduct those costs when they buy old diamond rings, says Renée Newman, a Los Angeles gemologist and author of the Gemstone Buying Guide.

If you’re still intent on selling your jewelry, follow these tips for the best deal:

Don’t accept the first offer

Diamond rings especially need to be shopped around to more than one store. A former co-worker of mine had a diamond ring appraised at $8,500. He visited several jewellers and found offers all over the map. The lowest was $900. The highest—$2,900.

Avoid the melting pot

Old necklaces, rings and earrings are usually worth more as jewelry than melted down for their gold content. Avoid shops that only offer to pay for the value of the gold. If your jewelry is not that expensive, go to a jeweller or pawn shop that specializes in reselling jewelry rather than one that sends it to a refinery. If your jewels cost you more than four figures or come from high-end jewellers such as Tiffany or Cartier, consider putting them up for auction. There are two main auction houses in Canada: Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctioneers ( and Waddington’s ( Dupuis’s commission is only 10% to 25% ofthe sale price at auction. The rest of the money goes to you.

Understand the value of your gold

If you do end up selling your gold for scrap, it’s important to know how much gold your jewelry has in it and what it’s worth. It’s an easy calculation. First, go to and find the current price of gold per troy ounce. As I write this, the price is $935 (U.S.). Convert that amount into Canadian currency: $1,030. Then multiply by 0.0311. That’ll give you the price of gold per gram, in this case $33.11. You need to know that number because when a jeweller weighs your jewelry he’ll tell you how many grams of gold it has.

An 18K wedding band might only have five grams of gold, which means the ring has $166 worth of gold. Most jewellers will offer you less than half that amount: $50 to $75 would be typical. But if you know what the gold is worth, you can haggle for more money.

46 comments on “Jewelry: Not so shiny

  1. Avoid shops that only offer to pay for the value of the gold.This line is 100 % correct.


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  3. I need extra cash and have been getting quotes from gold buyers in Atlanta, GA. And the prices have been far from what I paid at the stores. Even the gold buyers gave vastly different prices for the pieces. In the future, if Im ever in a position to shop once again, I will NOT pay retail for any jewelery. I didnt buy the rings with intentions of selling them, however I feel stupid and gullible for buy at high end places. Lesson learned in my late 20's.


  4. jewlery can be an investment,not a urban legend what would a gemologist know? gems. if they are real and
    aprox current retail/wholesale price. if you had purchased gold low then u would see a profit. yiu have to do your homework before you sell. know the weight of the piece,know the gold content then shop.
    broken gold is easy to have repaired. haggle with the buyer. Do not mail your gold as u will be ripped off for sure.
    a apprasal is only a piece of paper that is good for insurance. how do i know i have been buying and selling gold and silver for 40 years so I think i have some knowledge on this subject.


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  39. These seem best tips to be understand before purchasing jewellery. Second tip is the main one to be keep in mind. People rush in to the store when first discount or offer published. They don't even think much about the money they are going to loose or the profit the store owner going to get from it. Think twice before purchasing through first offer. I recommend all to check first offer's schemes and other shop's trends before purchase.


  40. You can always do something about your old jewelry. I had mine made into a whole new jewelry just like what I did with my old silver coins I bought.


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