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personal finance

To-do list for next weekend:

Get groceries.

Cut grass.

Jump on record high gold prices by taking in old and broken gold jewellery to sell for cash.

Yes, it's that simple to sell your old gold. Not too long ago, we got a flyer at our house inviting us to stop by a local community centre over the weekend for a free evaluation and on-the-spot payment.

If that's too much hassle, there are companies that will mail you a special envelope to ship them your jewellery, then send a cheque back to you by return mail. This, by the way, is not a business model that the Better Business Bureau approves of.

Need cash, like, right now? Then selling your gold jewellery is a way to get it. Have some unwanted jewellery lying around you might as well sell? Then a period of record high gold prices is as good as any time to do it.

But let's be clear about this: Bringing your gold to the nice fellow at the community centre or the helpful website people is good business for buyers, not sellers.

You can tell this by the number of cash-for-gold businesses that have sprung up since gold's record-breaking price surge began in the craziness of the financial crisis. A quick Google Canada search turned up the likes of,,,,, and

Get the picture? It's a gold rush out there and all these businesses are staking claims in a small patch of ground.

"Everyone is doing cash for gold - it's all over the place," said Bosko Kacarevic, a gold bullion dealer who runs Gold Coins Canada in Windsor, Ont.

The problem with selling your gold jewellery for cash is that the buyer's profit margin depends on paying you as little as possible. Mr. Kacarevic has a few suggestions to help you get the best possible deal, starting with checking the price of gold before you head off to sell your jewellery.

This is easy to do - just head to and scroll down the homepage to where the continuously updated financial market numbers appear (remember that, as with oil, the price is in U.S. dollars). By the way, gold prices are all that matter when you're selling jewellery for its melt-down value. Craftsmanship and aesthetic value are irrelevant.

Be Careful

Next, see whether you can find out how much gold is actually in your jewellery. Mr. Kacarevic said a stamp on your jewellery saying 24 karats means pure gold, while 12 karats would be a 50-50 mix of gold and the likes of silver and copper.

"If gold is $1,000 an ounce and you have a 24-karat piece of jewellery, you can generally price that around $1,000," Mr. Kacarevic said. "If it's 12 karat, then it's probably around $500."

Notice the use of the word "around." Gold prices are a lot like the Canadian dollar in that the prices and quotes you see published are wholesale rates for mega-size financial companies. Individuals pay more when they buy, and get less when they sell.

The question is, how much less? Mr. Kacarevic said within 10 to 15 per cent of the spot price would be reasonable when selling. Can't get that much? Then check out a few different buyers and go with your best price. Ideally, you'd have someone qualified as a gemologist take a look at your jewellery.

...Or Just Don't Do It

Comparing prices is difficult when you use online buyers of gold jewellery because they require that you mail them your jewellery for assessment. These websites often feature testimonials from happy customers, and yet the Better Business Bureau won't accept them as members in good standing.

"There are a lot of inherent problems with this industry," said Diane Iadeluca, president of BBB's Ottawa branch. "There's no regulation - people can just set up a website and scam people left, right and centre."

Mr. Kacarevic, who doesn't deal in jewellery, said he's seen a steady pickup in business as gold prices have soared. His advice for people who want to sell gold jewellery to profit from gold's rise: Don't.

"I tell people that if you don't really have to sell your jewellery, keep it. Gold is in a bull market - it's increasing in value."

Then again, the renowned hedge fund manager George Soros has been using the b-word (bubble) to describe gold prices since early this year.

Six tips for selling gold jewellery

Check the current price of gold.

Check the gold content in your jewellery if possible.

Get quotes from two or three buyers.

Seek quotes from qualified experts.

Understand that buyers pay less than published prices for gold.

Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints on any gold buyer you're considering, whether a storefront operation or an online business.

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