We've all seen the advertisements before - send in your old gold for cash. As individuals nationwide are dusting off old or broken jewelry to capitalize on the rising price of gold, customers have become wary. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure a fair price and safe transaction.

Begin with the Basics

Before getting started, learn the industry terminology. Gold is usually purchased in grams, though some buyers may use "pennyweight" instead. A reputable company will price items separately so that price per gram can be easily checked. Customers will also notice a difference in price on pieces. The higher percentage of gold in a piece means a higher price. For example, 10k gold is 41.7 percent gold, 14k gold is 58.5 percent gold and 18k gold is 75 percent gold.

Itemize Your Objects

Catalog each item by including the weight and description. Gold and silver can be weighed on a gram or food scale. Ensure that the items are truly gold and silver with a magnet. If a piece reacts to the magnet, it contains an iron alloy, which means it is plated, not solid. In some cases, the clasp of necklace or bracelet may react to the magnet, which could indicate a spring in the mechanism. These pieces may still be purchased.

Find the Mark

The next step is to take each non-magnetic piece, and look for a mark. Most gold is marked 10k, 14k, 18k, 417, 585 or 750, and sterling silver pieces are marked .925 or Sterling. Marks can be very tiny, and on earrings they are often located on the post, so use a magnifying glass or jeweler's loupe. If it's difficult to locate the mark, the gold buyer will be able to test it.

Be Aware of the Buyer

One common scam is mis-grading the gold. A dishonest buyer could quote gold as 14k when it's actually 18k if the customer is not savvy about their items. Other times, a buyer may provide the total price for an item, rather than the weight or price per gram. Furthermore, a dishonest buyer could say that items are not gold and offer to dispose of them. According to the Better Business Bureau, consumers should only sell gold or silver in the presence of the buyer, where they can see the scale to make sure the weight is accurate.

Sell with Companies in Good Standing

Business is always done best in person. Look for companies that weigh and test customers' gold and silver in a customers' presence, such as Goldmans. Because they conduct business face-to-face during expositions and home parties across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, you can receive payment immediately. Experts at Goldmans also recommend you work only with companies that:

• educate the customer on what is being sold.

• hire law enforcement to work during expositions.

• always provide an itemized receipt.

To learn more about how to safely sell gold, silver, jewelry and other precious metals items, visit www.goldmansofamerica.com.

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