Ah, sweet revenge. Most of us women-of-a-certain age have remnants of our past lives and past relationships hibernating comfortably in our jewelry boxes. That ugly gold bracelet your pothead boyfriend gave you two weeks before you broke up with him. That heavy herringbone necklace that makes you feel like a member of the Sopranos, but that you keep because it was a gift from your great-aunt Viv. Now there’s an easy way to put your past behind you AND make some extra cash–without ever having to worry about getting shot if you walk into that scary pawn shop downtown.
With stock prices still low, unemployment still high, and the real estate bubble still burst, one commodity has gone sky-high: gold. Unlike paper investments that can and have become practically worthless overnight, precious metals have true intrinsic value.
Now, instead of spending money on makeup or gourmet dip mixes at home parties, people are scrapping unwanted gold and silver for cash and walking out with hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, at wine-and-cheese home gold parties. “This party thing has just exploded,” says Debra McDonald, a teacher who moonlights as an appraiser with Central Jewelry Buyers in Dallas. “People are amazed at what they can get for unwanted and broken jewelry, old coins, and other things they have laying around the house.”
From Trash to Treasure
Central Jewelry Buyers is owned by McDonald’s son Chris Land. While all three of his Dallas locations do a brisk walkup and appointment basis, he says it’s the home party component of the business that has really taken off. “We’ve found that a lot of women prefer the safety, security and privacy they feel attending a home party over walking into a pawn shop,” he says. In addition to broken gold jewelry, the company buys gold and silver bullion, watches, sterling silver flatware, platters, bowls—even old teeth with gold fillings.
The party premise is simple. A hostess invites her friends to her home for a private gathering, typically offering light refreshments. When guests arrive,they fill out a ticket, receive a number, and socialize while they wait for their items to be reviewed. Items are weighed and appraised,and a cash offer is made on the spot, which the owner is free to accept or reject.
The payout depends on the karat and weight of the gold and the closing price of the commodity that day. Hostesses receive a percentage of the total amount paid out. And if you can’t make the party, you can still make money by dropping your jewelry off with the hostess to be evaluated and getting an offer by phone. Payouts at one recent party ranged from $150 for an old class ring to a high of $1,300 for several gold necklaces.
The atmosphere is fun, friendly, and social. “This is my favorite part: when I get to tell someone how much money they can make on this stuff they thought was junk,” says McDonald, chuckling, as she weights and creates little piles of gold jewelry based on karat. “I never get tired of seeing how excited people get at finding free money!”
Customers can also feel good that they’re doing good while getting green. Ninety-five percent of Central Jewelry Buyers’ inventory, according to Land, ends up getting melted down into gold bars, further refined, then sold to another vendor who resells them to the retail market.
Hate all home parties? Don’t worry, you can even money sitting home in your jammies, too. Several online entrepreneurs are also cashing in on the trend with websites such as Cash4Gold.com and ExBoyfriendJewelry.com.