A lesson in selling silver and gold

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Last night I biked out to Ville St Laurent for their heavy garbage pickup. I don’t do late-night runs very often these days but heavy rain was forecasted for the morning and I felt motivated to see what I could find.

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The giant pile above looked to be the result of an eviction. Most was pure junk but I noticed a few pieces of gold and silver jewellery at the bottom of two clear garbage bags. The top three pieces – two sterling silver earrings and a 10 karat gold ring – went into my pile of gold and silver scrap. The necklace, also 10k gold is actually very nice. It should go for around 80-100$ depending on the weight.

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This is all the scrap that I saved since I last sold my collection in January. It’s composed mostly of single earrings, broken chains and jewellery too worn or ugly to bother trying to sell otherwise. I had been planning on selling it off regardless (I need the cash!) so finding a few extra pieces last night was a bit of a bonus.

I decided around noon to get on my bike and pay a visit to the coin and antique dealer I sold to last time around. However, the rain came pouring down as soon as I left and I ended up getting soaking wet. I went home to change and think things over. I had seen a posting by a generic pawn shop on Kijiji (basically Canadian Craigslist) offering “best prices” for silver and gold. While I knew I’d get a good deal at my usual place this other option was a lot closer, just a five minute walk as compared to a fifteen minute bike ride in the pouring rain. I chose to check out the new place and see if I could get myself a deal.

I walked in and asked what they were paying for gold. I usually ask for 85% of the melt value, a percentage I think is fair for both buyer and seller. The attendant mostly dismissed the question and instead offered to take closer look and weigh things out. I agreed and he spent the next 15 minutes acid testing my metals.

Here’s the thing: when you’re selling gold and silver you really have to shop around. Some places will pay more than others and some will outright rip you off. There’s no law that prohibits offering someone a bad deal – it’s up to the seller to know what their product is worth and ensure they receive a fair price.

I knew I wasn’t going to get a good deal when the attendant placed all the gold he tested into a single pile. My usual guy tests every piece and makes different piles for 9k, 10k, 14k, and 18k. 18k is worth a lot more than 10k, 34$ per gram vs 19$ per gram respectively, so you definitely want your 18k to be recognized as such. He was just mixing them all together.

The offer came in after a few phone calls to the boss in a language I couldn’t understand: 150$ for the gold, about 17 grams worth. I knew this was a pretty bad deal – about 50% of melt value assuming everything was only 10k. He also offered 30c a gram for my silver, a little less than 50% of its 62c melt value and about 70$ in total. I told him I was going to shop around and pretended I might return later in the day. It’s not worth negotiating when the starting point is so bad.

The rain had died down. I got on my bike and headed off to meet my regular gold guy. He recognized me and gave me the 85% that I asked for.

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All in all I came away with 553$, more than twice as much as I would have made if I had sold it at the other place. It’s an awesome payday, basically next month’s rent and a little extra. It just goes the importance of shopping around and knowing the value of your product.

Last weeks sales (June 30 – July 6)
-Backgammon set: to a friend for 5$.
-Audio mixer: to a friend for 20$.
Total: 25$, 1315$ since May 18. If not for a couple of friends I would have totally struck out. I had no Ebay sales but apparently those tend to lag a bit in the summer months. Regardless, this week should be better: my scrap sale will be included and I should (knock on wood) finally be able to have a yard sale, this time with my sister in Verdun.

Another note: I did an interview with Jay and Ryanne at Scavenger Life, a really cool blog and community focused around making a living off Ebay. I haven’t listened to it yet but it was a lot of fun to do – check it out here.

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10 thoughts on “A lesson in selling silver and gold

  1. I see you’re all healed from the bike mishap you mentioned in your last post. At least the temperature was quite warm, so you didn’t get a chill from your soaking.

    Great haul. You is one smart cookie. You’ve learned your craft well, and aren’t about to get screwed over by anyone. Kudos!

  2. Just listening to the interview at Scavenger Life. Sweet!

  3. Jay Dedman says:

    Do you do acid tests on all your gold at home? or do you just take anything gold to the dealer to figure it out?

    • martng says:

      I do acid testing yes, though last time I just brought everything I thought could be gold and let my guy figure it out. They test everything regardless so it’s not a big deal. The acid test is a good tool regardless, I’ve discovered a few pieces that turned out to be sterling that I wouldn’t have known about (or would have been guessing about) otherwise.

      • Jay Dedman says:

        We see the old metal heads at the Flea Markets who walk around picking up anything metal. They smell, scratch, sniff it all looking for the precious metal. Obviously it’s worth it for them. Good score.

  4. Elise Xavier says:

    Always impressed by your hauls, and now I’m impressed by your expertise in selling jewelry as well ;).

    It actually also makes me feel really good to see someone getting use out of these perfectly good items that have been chucked.

    Anyhow, congratulations on making your rent!

  5. KerryCan says:

    What a good lesson you’ve passed along to the rest of us!

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