All that glitters not always rolled gold

Selling the crown jewels? Beware the rip-off merchants

The price of gold has more than quadrupled in the past ten years resulting in a mini boom in the number of gold-buying shops, but a CHOICE investigation has found very few will give you a good price for that unwanted ring or necklace.

CHOICE recently visited 10 jewellers and gold-buying shops around Sydney and received a huge variation in quotes – from just over $150 to $300 -- for the same three items of jewellery with a gold value of $400.

"Our shadow shop found jewellers in the CBD offered the best price especially when we haggled whereas two of the cash-for-gold kiosks in shopping centres were a ripoff," says CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn.

"None offered anywhere near the retail value which was about $1900 so you may be better off selling certain items on eBay or going to a specialist store such as an antique dealer.

"You need to be careful if selling jewellery with any gemstones or diamonds as we found few gold shops will pay extra for these – they're only interested in the gold content."

NSW Fair Trading recently inspected a number of Sydney gold-buying outlets and identified 25 breaches of regulations, mostly related to record keeping.

As with all second-hand dealers, gold shops must ask sellers for ID, log the items they buy and keep them for a specified period (14 days in NSW) before resale. Police are given a list of all items bought to check against records of stolen goods.

"The prices we were offered in our shadow shop ranged between 35% and 89% of the gold value of the three jewellery items so it certainly pays to do your homework and shop around," says Zinn.

"Weigh your gold items on a kitchen scale, check the gold price and calculate what they are worth. Get some quotes over the phone, try at least three different outlets and be prepared to negotiate because there's plenty of competition for your pot of gold."

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