Appraisers’ advice to consumers: You better shop around
By Karl Henkel
Less than a week after gold prices surpassed $1,800 a troy ounce — the highest all-time value for gold — Mahoning Valley residents are taking notes.
They’re selling old jewelry to pawnshops and gold stores. This week the International Gold, Silver and Diamond Buyers, a traveling division of Treasure Hunters Roadshow company, set up shop in Austintown.
But are the sellers getting the best deal?
The Vindicator comparison shopped Tuesday with a handful of commonly found jewelry types — a collection that included two 10-karat diamond rings, and five bracelets and necklaces ranging from 14-karat to 18-karat — and found some intriguing results.
Both IGSDB and Boardman Gold and Coin in Niles offered similar compensation for the jewelry when they based the prices on retail rates.
The net: about $450, give or take a few dollars to account for the fluctuation of gold value throughout the day, which acts in an up-and-down manner similar to the stock market. Tuesday’s gold prices fluctuated between $1,763 and $1,789 an ounce.
But there are a couple of tricks that consumers should watch for, including how offers are calculated.
A different Vindicator reporter visited IGSDB with the same collection of jewelry and was offered $75, not for retail, but for the meltdown price. The meltdown price is applied when the piece of jewelry isn’t in high demand.
After a bit of haggling IGSDB offered $100, but still $350 less than was offered just three hours earlier.
Brian Aymer, acting manager of IGSDB, in town through Saturday at the Best Western Meander Inn, 870 N. Canfield-Niles Road in Austintown, chalked the price difference up to market fluctuations; IGSBD works closely with traders to determine the value of specific collectible items.
But the example of price inconsistency is one reason Aymer and Eddie Maughan, numismatist and appraiser at Boardman Coin, urge customers to shop around for the best price.
“I guarantee you within an hour they’ll be back,” said Maughan, who added that he’s able to build relationships with customers by letting them comparison shop.
“They’ll feel reassured that I wasn’t lying to them,” he said. “And then we’ve built a rapport.”
It could be described as friendly competition to see what business is willing to pay the extra dollar, something Melissa Ames of the Youngstown Better Business Bureau said is the extra step a consumer should take when dealing with a potentially large sell-off.
“You have to do your homework and not make snap decisions,” she said. “Especially if it’s a traveling company, find out where their home office is and find out if they have any written policies and procedures.”
Some of those procedures include a valid drivers’ license and a signed waiver stating that items sold haven’t been stolen. A company such as Illinois-based IDSDB also has to have proper site licensing for each travel city (something the Ohio Department of Commerce on Tuesday confirmed was true) and must keep gold for up to five days after purchase before they resell it.
Ames also cautioned customers that although gold remains at record highs, their expectations should be kept in check.
“The quote is for pure gold only, and even 14-karat gold is not 100 percent,” she said. “The items you have to offer may not be worth as much as you want.”