Jeff Clark, Senior Analyst, GoldSilver
If you’re selling gold or silver bullion, you want to get the best price available. Perhaps you’ve been investing in precious metals for many years and now you think it’s time to offload some of your collection. Or maybe you’ve inherited some precious metals from a family member or are cleaning out your jewelry drawer. Whatever your case may be, we’ve put together this guide to help make sure your transaction is as smooth as possible.
We look at all the most important things you should consider before you sell your precious metals, including:
Whenever you decide the time is right for selling gold and silver, the three primary factors to consider are price, convenience and safety. Let’s look at the topics above while considering how these factors come into play, beginning with the biggest question of all:
The question everyone asks when selling precious metals is what price they’ll get. So, how do you know how much your bullion is worth? Here are some of the factors that determine how much you could potentially receive when you sell your gold or silver.
Some precious metals products are more valuable or in greater demand at a given time in the market. Factors like whether it’s gold or silver, a coin or bar, a government or private mint product and the condition of the bullion itself will all play into its resale value. Generally speaking, bullion that demanded a higher premium upfront will fetch higher prices upon resale, though it does depend on demand at the time. One way to assure that you have a strong resale ability is to buy the most popular product where demand will always be strongest.
Gold and silver coins generally hold their value well through resale. Because sovereign (government) coins are universally recognized legal tender, they can usually be resold without delay. Because of this high liquidity, you’ll usually get a higher resale value from coins than you will from rounds. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, as we outline in this article. Additionally, the retail market for coins is generally more active than bars or jewelry, which means there is almost always a buyer.
Gold and silver bullion bars generally have high resale value, especially those bars that have been kept in professional vault storage. Bullion bars produced by the most reputable mints and refineries have the strongest resale value. These bars are typically marked with a seal of the mint of origin and sometimes include a serial number for easy identification and certification. Because of this, there is low risk involved in buying or selling bullion bars.
It’s difficult to get the same resale value when selling your gold and silver jewelry than other bullion products. This is because most jewelry today includes an alloy along with other decorative pieces. Since it is not pure gold or silver, its value is more subjective. A refiner has to melt it down and refine it before making a bar, coin, round or even more jewelry. This additional labor means most jewelry today will fetch a lower resale price than what was paid upfront.
Browse our selection of gold jewelry
You’ll typically receive a lower resale price for scrap metal than you would for bullion bars, coins or rounds. This is because scrap metal has to be melted down and then fabricated into a form that investors or industrial manufacturers desire. Most bullion dealers don’t accept scrap metal as a sell-back, preferring instead only fabricated products. If you’re looking to sell scrap metal, try a local pawn shop or a refinery.
An easy way to calculate the value of your gold and silver bullion is to simply multiply the number of ounces by the current spot price. This will give you an idea of the upper limit on how much you can expect to receive in a resale. Most bullion dealers will offer about 95 percent of the spot price, though this will vary depending on market conditions. If you have a large lot to sell or products the dealer is in short supply of at the time, you might fetch a higher resale premium. Keep in mind that, for a piece of jewelry, the dealer would multiply the gold content by the current spot price. So for jewelry that contains 10 ounces of gold but is 91.6 percent pure, the dealer would pay you for 9.16 ounces. Pawn shops will offer the lowest return — sometimes less than half of the bullion content.
The size of your transaction will also play a role in how you’ll want to sell. Walking into a pawn shop with a significant amount of precious metals makes you vulnerable to burglary or assault. It’s less of a concern when you’re selling $1,500 worth of gold, but this is a serious consideration for investors who have $100,000 or more in precious metals investments. It simply doesn’t make sense to carry a sack worth half a million dollars into a local pawn shop. In these cases, privacy and security must be more serious considerations.
Once you have some gold and silver to sell, you need to decide where to bring it. Generally speaking, most people go to a pawn shop or bullion dealer. Reputable precious metals dealers are often few and far between in person, but many are moving their business online, opening up new possibilities (and risks). We’ve looked at these two common sale locations to help you understand what you’re getting yourself into.
While selling to a pawn shop means you don’t have to ship your gold and silver, keep in mind that pawn shops will offer the lowest return on your investment, as mentioned earlier. They may not even recognize what a particular coin or bar is actually worth in the market. There’s typically room for negotiation, but you’ll almost always receive far below what a reputable bullion dealer will offer.
Therefore, we don’t recommend selling to a pawn shop. But if you need to go this route, knowing how to sell gold and silver in a pawn shop will help you get the best price. Make sure to note the current spot price of gold and silver beforehand, and compare the buyback prices of some other dealers first (and then subtract your shipping costs). Clean up your metals some beforehand and bring any documentation you have from the original purchase. Shops are more likely to offer a better price for something that comes ready to resell and can be authenticated.
Selling precious metals to an online dealer can be a more efficient way to offload some of your bullion. Online bullion dealers typically offer better prices than local pawn shops or coin shops because their operating expenses are generally less significant than a physical storefront. Some of the options for selling your gold and silver bullion online are:
As we've discussed, you want your transaction to be safe, convenient and fair. The easiest way to ensure that is to buy online from the safety of your home and ship your precious metals to a trustworthy storage facility. This way, you never expose yourself to the possibility of assault, and you dramatically decrease the possibility of burglary or theft. You never even have to reveal to anyone that you’ve invested — it’s completely anonymous. And then when you’re ready to sell, you can simply notify your storage company to sell your metals at an agreed upon price. At GoldSilver, we offer world-class secure vault storage that works seamlessly with our sell-back program. It’s the easiest way for investors to make sure their entire investment process is seamless.