Thar’s Gold in Them Thar Drawers: Selling the Family Jewelry
The price of gold is once again selling at near all-time high prices. That, combined with tough economic times, has many people anxious to take advantage of high prices by selling their gold for scrap—with gold parties springing up in people’s homes and in hotel ballrooms across the country, and mail-in gold businesses multiplying.
How can consumers become educated about the gold market before selling their gold? The American Society of Appraisers offers these tips to consumers to make sure they are being offered a real deal.
- Start by looking for a stamp on the back of the jewelry which lists the karats: 24-karat gold is .999 pure, 18-karat gold is .750 pure, 14-karat gold is .583 pure, and 10-karat gold is .417 pure. It is important to note that not all gold jewelry contains the exact purity that is on the stamp. Gold from other countries may be less pure than stamped, and older 14-karat jewelry—like that produced in the 1970s and earlier—may have a purity of 13.5 karats.
- Next, find out the current prices of gold by looking at Web sites like Kitco.com. The price is quoted per troy ounce. A troy ounce is 31.1 grams. To get the price per gram, divide the daily price of gold by 31.1 grams and you will get the price for a gram of 24-karat gold. Most items are not pure gold so if you have 18-, 14-, or 10-karat gold, it will be worth less.
- Ask the jeweler what percentage they take from the sale and what percentage the metal refinery takes and then you will have an idea of what you should be paid.
- Also, take time to assess whether selling gold jewelry for scrap is the best option. Broken and mismatched jewelry are the best candidates to be melted down. However, many pieces have more value when sold whole to an estate jeweler or buyer. Pieces from well-known designers, well-crafted antique pieces or pieces with gem stones should be valued whole because melting them down may not be be the best option.
For consumers who want to have a piece of jewelry appraised, they should choose an appraiser who is an accredited member of a nationally recognized appraisal organization, such as the American Society of Appraisers, as well as a Graduate Gemologist of the Gemological Institute of America or the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. For gold coins and bars, ask an accredited gold appraiser or numismatist. Also, ask about an appraiser’s credentials and make sure they are still active.
To find an appraiser or to learn more about appraisals, consumers can log on to www.appraisers.org.
Source: The American Society of Appraisers.
Retirees’ Biggest Financial Burden: Uncle Sam
Taxes, not health care, are retirees’ biggest expense when they’re in their 70s, according to research commissioned by Securian Financial Group.
Securian surveyed 225 retirees between the ages of 70½ and 75 in August 2008 about their income and expenses. Respondents had a net worth of at least $1 million.
The study found that, for this group, personal income tax is the highest average annual expense by a large margin. Respondents paid an average of $25,226 in personal income tax per year: Add in real estate, capital gains, and personal property tax and the total average annual tax expense was $40,578 or about 4% of their net worth. While that is a small percentage of net worth, it could be a much larger chunk of annual income.
While health issues rank very high on the respondents’ list of concerns, actual health-related costs—an average of $6,681 per year—account for a small fraction of their overall expenses. The study found that they spent more on travel, cars, charity, real estate taxes, food, gifts, and mortgages.
Securian notes that the findings run counter to conventional wisdom. Survey participants thought their health-care-related costs would be higher. Prior to retirement, nearly one third of respondents anticipated their biggest expense would be health care; in retirement, health care was actually 12% of their expenses.
Other findings include:
- The bulk of current retirees’ income comes from Social Security (96%) and pension plan distributions (60%).
- “Not knowing how to manage money to make it last until I die” slightly outweighed the concern of “not having enough money.”
Source: Securian Financial Group.