Special Reports

Getting a good price for gold

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

For our test we enlisted the help of David Rotenberg. He owns David Craig Jewelers in Newtown, Bucks County. On top of his 30+ years of experience as a jeweler, he also consults for the government on court cases involving jewelry appraisals.

Rotenberg generously lent us some 14-karat gold pieces for our test.

"It weighs 43.2 penny weight," Rotenberg explained. "So we'd be at $1,247.00."

That price is what Rotenberg said he would offer a customer for that weight in gold. He said there are many factors that can affect a particular store's offer, but he said anything under $860.00 is unfair.

So with hidden cameras rolling, we sent two of our producers "shopping" for offers in Philadelphia and South Jersey.

The offers varied considerably. We got everything from as low as $346.00 to up to $1,300.00.

Here are two examples. One happened at Five Star Jewelry in Center City Philadelphia. Remember that Rotenberg said a reasonable price for our gold is no less than $860.00.

The first offer at this location was $346.00! The second offer was slightly higher at $400.00. The final offer, of $500.00, was still well below what Rotenberg considered a reasonable price.

We questioned the store's owner.

"If something happened like that it's definitely not me," he said.

It turns out the man who made the offer to our producers' works for the electronics business in the same building and is not authorized to work on behalf of Five Star Jewelry.

On the other side of the coin was New York Gold Exchange II in Cherry Hill. That store's offer starts at $700.00, again it's below what Rotenberg said was reasonable. His second offer was for $800.00. But it didn't stop there; he then offered $1,000.00 then $1,100.00 then $1,200.00 and finally $1,300.00! That is a $600.00 difference from the store's original offer!

When we returned to ask the store about the strategy of getting to the final number, the owner declined to comment.

But what we learned was that when selling gold, you have a large amount of haggling room and it's important to shop around.

Market Street Gold in Center City Philadelphia gave our producers one of the best prices and most information. Anthony Wuvalyona said his method for success is keeping a high volume of happy clients.

"I'd rather have more volume than one nice profit on one customer so I keep everybody happy and keep coming back."

Other selling tips include going to an established, reputable jeweler instead of a possible fly-by-night operation.

And before you even go to sell, know what kind of gold you have, and make sure the store you're selling to correctly identifies it. That may be done through several tests the stores conduct which reveal the gold's purity. The higher the karat of gold you have then the more it's worth.

In a couple of instances during our hidden-camera selling spree dealers claimed the jewelry was silver-gold-plated instead of pure gold or that our pieces were 10-karat instead of the actual 14-karat.

Also, the price of gold is determined by its weight so ask how the gold is being measured and ask to witness it. You should also know what unit of measurement the store uses and that measurement should be used consistently whether it's penny weight or grams.

If any of your pieces has a stone in it, the jeweler should remove it and return it to you.

Finally, check the store's buying license issued by the county. If a store doesn't have one, it is not supposed to buy gold from the public. Prices should also be clearly posted.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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