With items across the board bringing less and less each year, finding value in an estate can be challenging. One area that people often overlook, however, is the jewelry box. What many people dismiss as out-of-fashion and costume jewelry can still have significant value just on the metal content alone.
As I write this post, sterling silver is at a very low price point and thus it will take a fair amount in terms of weight to generate significant income. That being the case, the silverware chest will be a better bet than the jewelry box.
Gold, however, is a different story and it doesn't take much to start adding up to some real money. Weighing gold can be confusing since it is often measured in troy ounces, which are heavier than standard ounces. But, a troy pound has fewer ounces than a standard pound so the troy pound is lighter. My advice is to make life easier and just weigh everything in grams, like I do. Problem solved since the internet has free sites galore that will give you daily prices of metals in grams.
Gold content is very important. Your finest gold will be 24 karat, followed by 22K, 18K, 14K and on down to 8K. By law, gold must be marked but often times the mark is very hard to find. And, sometimes instead of a karat mark you will instead see a number, such as "585". This is a percentage number based on 24K as 100 percent. 585 means 14K gold since 14 divided by 24 is essentially .585. Likewise, .750 means 18K gold since 18 is 75% of 24. Obviously, the higher the gold content the better when it comes to value.
One mark to watch for is "GF". When present, it will almost always be immediately to the right of the gold mark. GF means "gold filled" and might as well stand for, "not gold". A "gold filled" item, also sometimes called "rolled gold", means that the item is made of base metal with a thin gold coating. There is no precious metal value in a gold filled item, so be sure to look for it before taking an item in to sell.
A final word of warning: on occasion, a gold chain will have a gold clasp but the chain itself will be "gold tone", i.e. base metal with a gold finish. The photo above is a good example of this. The clasp is marked "585", meaning 14K gold, but the chain turned out not to be gold. As Ronald Reagan famously said, "trust... but verify". A reputable gold/silver dealer will usually perform this test for you while you wait.
Bryan H. Roberts is a professional appraiser in Sarasota, FL. He is a member of the Florida State Guardianship Association and currently serves on the board of the local FSGA chapter. He is a past president of the Sarasota County Aging Network, a non-profit that provides grants to other non-profits benefiting seniors in need and is also a board member of PEL, an area non-profit whose resale store profits support programs and scholarships for at-risk and disadvantaged youth. He is certified in the latest Uniform Standards of Appraisal Practice (USPAP) Equivalent