Selling Your Metal Detecting Finds
Selling your precious metal jewelry can be quite perplexing. If you were only selling one or two rings to a buyer some people will just take what seems to be close to fair market value by a simple percentage and move on without too much thought about it. In-all that can be totally fine, the seller and buyer each made some money and everyone is happy!
However, what if you are finding a decent amount of gold and silver each season with all kinds of variables like diamonds, karat weight, clarity, cut style, platinum, palladium, sets, hallmarks, no hallmarks, serial numbers, etc. Like most people you probably won’t have any desire to become an expert in the markets and would prefer to just get as much as possible for your time and efforts as a detectorist. This is when things can get a little more time-consuming or perplexing as mentioned earlier, and probably the reason you’ve read thus far into this article. Understandably, most people will say there is little difference in value for a 14k ring that weighs 5.8 grams versus one that weighs 6.1 grams when attempting to resell, but what if you have 25 or even 100 rings, well that can add up to much more very quickly.
There are a few things that we recommend knowing before selling or seeking more information from buyers in the market. When dealing with precious metals without gemstones its simply just a numbers game based on the type, weight, and purity. Understand that you’ll never be getting a retail value. That is normally at the end of the rainbow where retailers make profits above the spot or current market price. Keep in mind, no one would ever buy a used ring at an equivalent new ring retail cost.
You will be looking for an offered value somewhere near the spot or market value price based on purity and weight. Don’t forget, your buyer will want a profit margin on over-the-counter trading, so it’s not likely you’ll be offered a full market value on scrap gold or silver due to further manufacturing, melting, and other involved costs to move it back into a retail market. Take the time to properly learn how to weigh your precious metals using the correct conversions. Always run these numbers to todays market price, and remember they change daily. For example, if you were to have a ring appraised (normally done for insurance purposes or selling) the appraised amount would represent a replacement value to the current market. This means the value might go up or down over a period of time.
Perplexing? Not really, up until this point everything seems pretty straight forward one would think... Understanding the correct weight conversions are very important but confusing. Most buyers are completely up front with you on how much they are willing to pay for precious metals, but what if the buyer says I only buy in troy ounces or pennyweight (dwt) and you have no idea what he/she is talking about. This is the standard, and you might find yourself totally dependent on them calculating the weight and purity of several different items that you already thought was correct using your own scale that doesn’t weigh in troy values.
Troy ounce confusion can sometimes be a buyers tool and you have just met an area where mistakes are often made. Read on through the next few paragraphs of confusion and we’ll then get back into an approach on how to effectively deal with it.
A troy ounce
is not the same as an imperial or avoirdupois ounce. What's a troy ounce of gold? One troy ounce is 31.1034768 grams, or 0.0311034768 kilograms. The troy ounce is used in the weighing and pricing of the precious metals : gold, platinum, palladium and silver. A troy ounce is equivalent to 480 grains. A grain is 0.06479891 grams. A troy pound is similarly non-standard. It comprises 12 troy ounces - not the traditional 16. For extra confusion 1 kg is 32.1507466 troy ounces, co-incidentally close to the g/ozt conversion factor of 31.1034768. A source of regular confusion and error is people dividing a kg price by 31.1034768 and hoping to get the price per troy ounce. The result, though attractively close to the right answer, is always wrong. In fact they should multiply the per kilogram price by the kg per troy ounce figure (0.0311034768) to effect the correct conversion from a per kilogram price to a per troy ounce price. By the same reasoning a per troy ounce price of gold should be divided by kg per troy ounce figure (0.0311034768) to effect the correct conversion to a per kilogram price.
Troy ounce origin
Originally coming from the French town of Troyes the troy system was the basis for the medieval British system of coinage introduced by Henry II of England. At this time much of English administration was based on French systems. The penny was literally one pennyweight of silver. One pound sterling was equal to twenty shillings, with each shilling equal to twelve pennies. Thus, one pound sterling equals 240 pennyweights, or one troy pound of sterling silver. The Troy system was adopted by the U.S. Mint for the regulation of coinage in 1828.
Yes, the troy system is still the standard method currently used today in the weighing and pricing of precious metals. To have a clear understanding of your troy weight we recommend using a digital troy ounce scale (dwt) or your normal digital scale that might not weigh in troy, along with a gold calculator for those conversions. When you are ready to sell, you simply must know the correct weight and *purity to accurately get paid.
If you’re totally or partially thinking this is much more involved than I thought, hang in there. Once you are set up, you’ll be able to manage the process with ease while receiving the best possible returns. As stated earlier, most all buyers will give you the best deal possible based on their business overhead costs and profit margins. We still recommend a cautious approach by asking a buyer to simply weigh your product and see if they have the same number as your previously calculated amount, or one calculated by another buyer. Shopping for a buyer can help make sure you’re getting reasonable comparison prices and pay off if one has made a calculation error or simply pays closer to spot market value.
*Purity is the other component used with weight to determine a value. This is another area where buyers might get a hand-up if you do not completely understand the results. Always make sure to separate the 10, 14, 18, 24 karat gold and silver into different lots. This also applies to types like platinum or palladium. The market values are different for each and should be treated as so. Knowing the difference is very important, and testing can be necessary on some items with or without purity marks and/or even hallmarks that could be fake. The buyer will sometimes perform acid tests to determine the purity on questionable items. You can perform these tests at home as well with acid testing kits available at retail stores or online. They are not expensive and anyone selling precious metals on a regular basis should have one, and know how to properly use it.
Once you’ve done your homework and have a good understanding of the process, you’ll be ready to sell your precious metals and not feel like you may have been taken advantage of, due to not knowing what to expect. So where are these buyers and what ones could possibly be the best for you? Whether you choose a private buyer, pawn shop, or sell directly to metal refineries can sometimes be determined by how fast you want your money, how much jewelry you have, or the percentage they will pay of spot price.
Pawn shops will normally offer the lowest percentage and will sometimes negotiate while private buyers can have a slightly higher percentage because of less overhead involved. Most privately owned jewelry stores (normally not the big chain stores) are also very motivated buyers. They will also be interested in buying exceptional quality jewelry (jewelry with gemstones) higher than spot price and retail it as estate jewelry, or even possibly sell it on consignment to keep their overhead down. You would obviously need to agree on what percentage the store would take before sales tax when the item was sold. This could be a great opportunity for you to really cash in on sharing the retail profit with the jewelry store, without them needing to invest money into owning it before reselling it. However, you should be very careful making such an agreement without first having the item appraised by a third party.
You wouldn’t want to learn later that the store had purposely given it a low value just to buy it from their own display case. I’d hate to think someone would do such a thing, but you just never know these days. Be sure to read this entire article before jumping into something like that headfirst.
If you have been saving your awesome jewelry finds over time and have been fortunate enough to hoard a nice collection, metal refineries might be your best option. They will almost always pay the highest spot prices. It is important to note that walk-ins are not permitted at refineries and all items must be mailed in, so you’ll most likely want to insure your packages. It is very likely that your other buyer options are using these refineries and you’ll be cutting out the middleman entirely.
ARA Gold is a popular choice that can sometimes pay up to 99% on the spot price of gold, 95% on silver, and 90% on platinum. Some additional refinery processing fees may be applied, so be sure to read about those fees.
Midwest Refinery is another popular choice and states 95% on the spot price of gold, 90% on silver, and 90% on platinum without additional refinery fees. Both also offer other services for metals such as palladium, rhodium, etc.
Additionally, you can request to have your metal melted down into .999 bars or rounds (provided you have enough) and they will ship them back to you.
Now what about those gemstones?
Well, we do recommend a good tester with thermal conductivity and reflectivity for the most accurate results. You’ll also want included assistance with thermal calibration from the manufacturer. They can often be affected during shipping and need some calibrating attention when you receive it. This can normally be done over the phone to get things calibrated correctly. Gemstone testers are not guaranteed to tell you exactly what you have, however many users find them to be a valuable addition to their gemological toolbox. A good tester is not cheap, they run around $350 and up. We recommend purchasing one with your first return of selling other gold and silver. They can save you money by knowing when to have rings professionally looked at by a Gemologist.
Note that a Jeweler is not necessarily a Gemologist. Jewelers generally perform repairs on jewelry like resetting loose gemstones, resizing, and cleaning. As you would expect there is a cost for these services, and having a certified Gemologist appraise gemstones can be expensive when you are having fake gemstones constantly looked at. You’ll be asking for a certified appraisal with detailed paperwork signed by the Gemologist.
Costs may vary depending on things like how many rings you have done at one time. Normally waiting until you have at least five or so can get you a little price break. The advantage of having this done on high-end rings almost always offsets the appraisal cost when selling it. The buyer knows exactly what they are getting without risk. You may also have gemstones professionally removed from items by jewelers to later have them design your very own ring. Metal manufactures will not buy gemstones. However, when requested they also can professionally remove them (normally at no cost) shipping them back to you.
Selling on social media apps and sites
There are many reseller platforms available these days to choose from. Some are targeted for your local area, which has benefits of not dealing with shipping or online payment protection programs to help secure funds during a transaction. You also have the option of selling out of your local area with all the available tools needed to complete a safe transaction if things don’t work out locally.
Selling to friends or family
Close friends will generally know about your collections and sometimes be interested in buying items from you to save a little bit on something that might have peaked their attention. Friends of friends can sometimes see an opportunity to make money with hopes you’ll take a lowball offer with no intensions of keeping what they have possibly bought, simply reselling it to make a profit themselves. I recommend keeping these types of offers in check with your bottom line. Sometimes other detectorists will try to buy from you stating they’ll give you more than the local pawn shop with the same thing in mind. You may have already figured out that your family will most likely be eyeballing and trying on jewelry checking for a proper fit. This just might be your highest payoff yet, with that warm fuzzy feeling of making your wife or kids happy with freebees! Caution here fellas, you’ll never want to tell your wife no you can’t have that babe!!!
Know and understand tax implications
You don’t want to find yourself in some kind of trouble for not reporting tax if collected or mistakenly not collecting it if you have decided to retail items. This does require a retail license in most cases depending on how much you are selling. Do your due diligence to avoid any unnecessary penalties or possible fines.
Absolutely, this can totally be a good idea! Keeping your collections can actually be a good investment, especially when the price of gold and other precious metals continues to rise in value. No secret that historically valuable relics or rare items will be worth more as they become less available over time.
With many different options it can be rather difficult to figure out the best choice sometimes. Give each one a try and see what works best for you. The good news is that you have found some great things with your metal detector and are continuing to learn more and more about the fantastic hobby of metal detecting.
Oh yeah… one other important benefit to selling some of your treasure is upgrading to a brand-new metal detector with all the accessories at LMS Metal Detecting - Find Your Treasure!! Now you’ve got it! Happy Hunting.
As always, feel free to comment, ask questions, or share if you DIG IT!