How Much Money Will I Get When Selling Gold Jewelry?

Knowing how much money you can get when selling gold jewelry is a good question, and one that comes up quite often. In this article, we’ll look at this question in-depth, providing you with the knowledge needed to find the right answer for you.

The first thing to note when talking about “gold melt value”, there are many factors to consider but at the end of the day, the amount of money you receive for selling gold jewelry will most likely be a percentage based off of the Gold Melt Value (or scrap value).

Gold Melt Value
Also called “scrap value”, the gold melt value is the value of 100% of the gold content in an item.  The gold value of your jewelry is based off this number but when you want cash in hand, the amount of cash you get can vary greatly depending on how much gold you have and where you sell it.

How Much Gold are You Selling?
Most gold buyers conveniently forget to mention this fact, mainly because mentioning it means more cash out of their pocket and more cash in yours.

The fact is that if you have a lot of gold jewelry to sell (more than a troy ounce of mixed karat gold), you can usually get a better price for several reasons.  First, it’s more cost effective to refine larger batches of scrap gold so most refiners will pay a higher percentage of the melt value for larger amounts of scrap gold.  Second, the gold buyers can’t “cash in” until they’ve accumulated enough scrap gold to meet the minimum requirements of refiners.  As such, they’re motivated to acquire more gold (even if they have to pay slightly more) since more scrap gold means they can cash in sooner and possibly get paid more money as well.

If you don’t have a large amount of gold jewelry to sell, no worries, there are still ways you can make sure to get the most money for your gold.

The following list is a generalization of the types of places that will buy your gold jewelry and approximate cash values they’ll pay.

Pawn Shops
Pawn shops, in general, are consistently at the bottom of the pay scale, in terms of how much cash they pay for gold jewelry and scrap gold.  Keep in mind, these places have lots of bills to pay just to keep the doors open and the lights on.  As such, they require larger margins to operate.  Larger margins for them means less cash for you.
Average Cash Payment for Scrap Gold:  20-50% of melt value

High End / Chain / Mall Jewelry Stores
Most jewelry stores will buy scrap gold, although some have disturbingly misleading methods about how they do it (like pushing you to do complex “trade it in” schemes or convoluting the payment terms so it sounds like you’re getting a good deal when you’re not).
But again, payouts and experiences can vary greatly depending on where you live and which stores you choose to visit.
Average Cash Payment for Scrap Gold:  30-60% of melt value

Local Jewelers & Jewelry Stores
Many local and/or smaller jewelry stores fit into the category above, as do quite a few independent, local jewelers, but not all of this applies in every situation, so it’s tough to generalize this category.
The truth is, some of the highest paying scrap gold buyers can be found amongst the local jewelers… They have multiple markets and uses for scrap gold and are often willing to pay more.
Average Cash Payment for Scrap Gold (stores):  30-60% of melt value
Average Cash Payment for Scrap Gold (Individuals):  30-75% of melt value

Coin Shops
Coin shops usually fall somewhere between pawn shops and in-line-with jewelry stores.  It depends on the shop and who’s running it and again… they have quite a bit of overhead to pay for.
Average Cash Payment for Scrap Gold:  30-65% of melt value

“We Buy Gold” Brick-and-Mortar Stores
Similar to individual, local jewelers, the “we buy gold” places can vary greatly in the amount they pay.  Again, look at their overhead and who runs it.  Is it a national chain, or local?  Are they in a high rent location like the mall?  Or is it an individual running it from a small office?
Average Cash Payment for Scrap Gold:  30-65% of melt value

“We Buy Gold” – Advertises on TV, Send Your Gold in by Mail
Sounds easy right?  Oh, they make it real easy to send in your gold jewelry.  What’s not easy?  Getting a fair price for your gold jewelry and/or getting your jewelry back.
First, advertising on TV is by far the most expensive form of advertising, it can cost ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF MONEY.  They’re trying to make a profit so tons of cash for advertising means almost no cash for you.
If you do send gold jewelry to one of these places, they’ll send you a check, normally around 12-18% of the gold melt value.  If you refuse that offer (again, they’re making it easy to just “cash the check”), then they’ll come back with a second offer, normally around double the first offer.  Seem tempting?  Maybe, until you realize it’s still only 1/3 of the gold value.
Average Cash Payment for Scrap Gold:  12-18% of melt value
Average Cash Payment for Scrap Gold (If you refuse the first offer):  20-36% of melt value

“We Buy Gold” (Fly by night) Hotel Conventions
We’ve all seen this one… One or two days only, “mega-buyers” are gathered at such-and-such hotel to value your gold jewelry (and/or coin collection)… and pay cash on the spot… And be GONE the next morning.
Let me repeat that so it sinks in… Meet out-of-town strangers at a hotel so they can cherry-pick your valuables and by the time you realize you’ve been had, they’re long pulling the same scam in a distant town.Average Cash Payment for Scrap Gold:  10-25% of melt value

Keep in mind that all “brick and mortar” shops have a good deal of overhead, as do individual jewelers.  So despite all other factors, the amount of money you receive for selling gold jewelry will always have an inverse relationship with the amount of overhead of whoever’s doing the paying.

The other main factor boils down to honesty.  Can you trust the person who’s valuing your gold to be fair and honest?  Will they answer the tough questions or are their answers confusing and mis-leading?

Lastly, if you’re still unsure, shop around.  None of the gold buyers can force you to sell to them, and you won’t have to go to many places before having a general idea of how much your gold is worth and how much cash you can get for it.