Before approaching gold traders online, it’s worth shopping around to see what local jewellery stores and pawnbrokers will offer you.
I took three rings, a pair of earrings, and a 19th-century pocket watch with chain (see below) and sovereign to three jewellery stores and two pawnbrokers, across Dorset and London, and asked their sales staff how much they would give me for my pieces of gold.
Gold alloys used for making jewellery contain set percentages of fine gold. 9 carat gold contains 37.5% fine gold, 14 carat 58.5%, 18 carat 75%, 22 carat 91.6%. 24 carat (ie pure gold) is not normally used for jewellery. Look for the hallmarks on your jewellery which will normally show 375, 585, 750 or 916.
I discovered that one of the rings in my collection was not 9 carat gold, as it did not have the usual hallmark number of 375 but was marked as 335. This caused a great deal of confusion: one jeweller suggested it was German gold, while others thought it was just less pure. A hallmark shows the purity of the alloy in parts per 1,000. For example, 750 parts per 1,000 by is equivalent to 18 carat gold.
After looking at what I had to offer, the first jeweller, a long-established, family-run business, gave me a quote but was unable to confirm if the sovereign was a full or half size. So there was no way to be sure if I was being given the right price – a meagre £1.60 for all four items.
The second jeweller pointed out straight away that one ring and the earrings were silver. But despite this, he still offered me £27 for the two gold rings.
The third shop also identified that two items were made of silver, but offered the best price of £95 for the two gold rings. Now you would think that these ‘experts’ would know what they were doing, but as my research continued it seemed in some cases they knew even less than I did.
In the first pawnbroker, the staff appeared to be more knowledgeable but only offered me £27.84 for the two rings and tried to tell me it was a good price.
However, at a pawnbroker in London’s Covent Garden, I was offered even less at just £10ish for the two gold rings.
That’s a difference of £85 between the best and worst offer for these two rings. So the golden rule is never take the first offer and always ask for more.
Laura O’Meara, from Dorset (above), did just that. When she was getting married, she pawned some old jewellery to help pay for her wedding ring. She didn’t have much to sell and was only offered £40, but she did ask for more and was offered an extra fiver.
However, sometimes trying to ask for a little extra can go against you, as Matthew Moore from Slough discovered. Matthew had a large 9 carat bracelet he took to a ‘cash for gold’ outlet in west London. It was while waiting for the owner to verify the item and make him an offer that he noticed the exact same piece in the shop window.
At first, he thought the owner had made a mistake when he gave Matthew his offer, so asked him to reconsider, but the shopkeeper said: “Take it or leave it.” His offer was £600, but the price in the window was £1,200.
Watch the news
So how can you make a better return on your unwanted gold? Well, the first thing is to watch the news. When there is imminent talk of war in certain parts of the world, then the price of gold rises. Auctioneer Richard Petty, who has been trading since 1979, saw a spike in the sale of gold at the start of each Gulf War in 1990 and in 2003. When President Trump introduced his travel ban at the end of January this year, the price rose slightly again.
It can be useful to get an overview of trends in gold sales over a historical period to help you decide when to sell your gold. Visit Gold Price OZ, a free service that shows the current gold price and a gold price history chart.
This website also has a calculator that will allow you to enter the number of troy ounces and the number of carats to get an estimate of the price of your gold.
Weighing your gold
To make sure that you’re being offered the right price for your gold, it is important to be aware of how gold and other precious metals are weighed. While a few dealers may offer you the price in regular ounces, precious metals are typically weighed in Troy ounces.
One Troy ounce is 31.1 grams, while one regular ounce is 28.35 grams. It may seem a small difference in weight, but the comparison in cost is huge.
To give an example, my 22 carat sovereign weighs 0.2oz, which equates to 5.669 grams. When I entered this weight into a price comparison calculator, such as the Presman MasterMelt, for 22 carat gold in ounces I was given a value of £162.47. But when I made the same calculation for Troy ounces, the figure jumped to an incredible £5,053.49.
When it comes to selling gold jewellery online, remember that the final quote you get can be much less than the online quote. Cash for gold companies can put this down to what the price of gold on the day they receive your package and can find fault with the item – perhaps the clasp isn’t gold, for example.
Check whether the online buyer will pay for postage and insurance, which can soon add up. Also double-check if they provide a phone number to contact them, and see how easy it is to get through before parting with your gold.
If you refuse the offer to buy your gold, the online trader should return your gold, but in some cases it can be difficult to get your items back and can involve chasing the trader multiple times.
As well as doing your own online research, you can search for customer reviews on Trustpilot.com. You can also compare firms at Goldpricechecker.com, which features companies such as Postgoldforcash.com and Howcashforgold.co.uk.
Selling gold coins
Gold coins, commonly known as sovereigns and krugerrands are made of solid 22 carat gold and are valued by their weight on the open gold market.
Gold coins, typically called sovereigns and krugerrands, are made of solid 22 carat gold, and can still be one of the better forms of gold trading today. For example, if you are lucky enough to have a 2015 Britannia 1oz coin, then you could be looking at selling it for between £850 and £920.
Going back to my pocket watch, all five dealers offered me between £151 and £260 just for the sovereign.
The Royal Mint offers a buy back scheme if you have purchased gold coins or bars from it, but only if it has been stored in its vault.
Online traders who deal in gold jewellery will also buy your gold coins. However, it is still a good idea to see someone face to face in the first instance and talk to a jeweller, auctioneer or high street coin specialist, which cannot hide behind a website. By doing this, you will gain a much better understanding as to how best to sell your commodity.
All prices quoted March 2017.
Seven tips for selling your gold
- All that glisters may not be gold, so have the hallmarks checked by a professional, such as a jeweller or an Assay Office, to validate your item is pure gold and not mixed with another alloy.
There are currently four Assay Offices in the UK in Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield, plus an Irish office in Dublin. These can be contacted through the Assay’s website.
- Always shop around for the best quote.
- Research the price online beforehand in Troy ounces, rather than just ounces.
- Check the returns policy of online cash for gold firms and whether there are any customer reviews online.
- Never take the first offer; always ask for more.
- Remember that the value of gold can go down as well as up.
- Choose a reputable seller and beware of dodgy dealers both on and offline.