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Old jewelry worth its weight in gold?

Most buyers of gold won't pay anything for stones, with the exception of diamonds. So if you want them, remove them yourself or have them removed before you turn a piece of gold jewelry over to a buyer.

Gold coins

If you've inherited somebody's coin collection and it includes some gold coins, these can be sold for meltdown as well. But it will probably pay to get an informal appraisal first. Coin dealers who are members of the American Numismatic Association subscribe to a code of ethics and should be able to examine gold coins and tell you whether they have more value as coins or bullion.

"When valuing gold coins, there are a lot of components. When the price of (gold) is very strong, based on authenticity, condition and rarity, some coins are worth more for their bullion than they are as a coin. A good dealer should be able to help you with this," says Jay Beeton, the association's marketing director.

Beeton also suggests getting a second opinion -- "because there are people who will take advantage of you."

Dental and other gold

Dental fillings, gold teeth, bridges and crowns are usually 16 karat gold and can be resold as well. Some dental gold contains platinum as a hardening agent, and that has a separate and often greater value. It pays to shop around if you have this kind of gold to sell. It can be harder to value than gold jewelry.

Gold knickknacks, medallions and religious items also are salable, but again, first find somebody who will help you determine their value as a collectible before you sell them to be melted down.

Valuing your gold

It's easy to get burned in the gold-selling game. So it helps to have a clear idea of what you're selling before you approach a buyer.

The following presumes that we are talking about 24 karat gold. But most people's jewelry isn't that pure. So you have to figure out how much gold is in the jewelry or item you want to sell and multiply that percentage by the value in pennyweights. Use the chart below to do the calculations.

Percentage of purity
KaratPercent
24100
2291.7
1875
1458.3
1250
833.3
625
14.167
Source: The World Gold Council

Most gold transactions are conducted in pennyweights, with 20 pennyweights, or DWT, equal to 1 troy ounce of gold.

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Go to the World Gold Council, an international organization of mining companies, for the current price of gold. It fluctuates constantly, so what you see there is unlikely to be what you'll be paid for your gold, but it will give you a ballpark figure. The Gold Spot Price is in troy ounces. If gold is selling for $1,000 a troy ounce, divide the $1,000 an ounce by 20 pennyweights, and you end up with a value of $50 a pennyweight.

The next step is to figure out how much your gold weighs. If you have a jeweler's scale, that makes it easy. But if you are using an ordinary kitchen scale, you'll have to convert to pennyweights: 1.5 kitchen grams = 1 pennyweight, and 1 kitchen ounce = 18.23 pennyweights.

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