So, what’s your money worth? Well, after 40 years of participating in coin & collectibles conventions, I’ve learned that the answer lies with whom you ask.

Recently, buyers have offered a few hundred dollars for exceptional items worth $10,000. What happens when buyers are unaware of the rarity and value of an item? And, what if sellers are willing to take any offer they can get? In either event, I believe that it’s prudent to price and compare, seller beware.

If you are a seller, below are a few tips of the trade:

  • If the buying-selling environment intimidates you, bring someone with you who’s quick with writing and calculating.
  • Bring your calculator, pen, paper and device with Internet access.
  • Do not give the air or attitude of complete trust or that you don’t care!
  • Before you walk in, make a list of what you intend to sell. If you’re selling precious metals or gemstones, note the karat or fineness of each piece and make it obvious to the buyer.
  • If you don’t know the karat of your piece, then write down what karat the buyer says it is.
  • When your item is placed on the scale, have your pen ready and actually look at what the scale says (don’t be shy) and write it down. (On the scale, ask to see the gram weight).
  • Before the buyer does an acid test, ask how they can tell what karat your piece is before they start. Write down what color the cap is on each acid tube they use for your piece. Keep it for future reference.
  • For the current price of gold, visit the Web site called, KITCO and click onto “Live Market Quotes.” If you don’t have Internet access, ask the buyer to find out what the price of gold or silver is at that moment and write it down. If the buyer is unwilling to get that information for you, be very suspicious because the price of gold will determine how much he/she will offer you.

If you have done all these, then you will be ready to figure out if what you are offered is fair.

How to Calculate What’s Fair

Step 1: Take the weight in grams and divide it by 31.1. That will give you the actual Troy ounce (the weight of precious metals) of the piece.

Step 2: Figure out the amount of pure gold or silver. Times the Troy ounce amount by the karat or fineness. To find the karat value, divide the actual karat by 24 (for example, 18 karat divided by 24=0.75).

Step 3: Multiply the amount of pure gold by the current price of gold. That ending figure is the actual and true pure value of your piece of jewelry.

Example: If your piece is 33 grams, 14 karats (14 divided by 24=0.583) and gold is at $1,800 per ounce, the calculation would be: 33 divided by 31.1=1.061 X .583 X $1,800= $1,113.41 in pure value.