How to sell gold

Learn the best place to sell  your gold for cash

If you are looking to understand how to sell gold and how to get the best price for your gold, this article is for you.

We’re living in a time of uncertainty at the moment, which means that the type of enquiries that Ringspo receives has changed over the last few weeks.

While the majority of enquiries we receive are usually about how to get the best value when buying jewelry, we’ve seen a change where we are now receiving a lot of enquiries about selling jewelry and other precious metals.

To this end, we have recently published guides about selling a diamond ring and in this article we’re going to show you how you can get the best price for your gold.

Ringspo is reader-supported, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link to a retailer & subsequently make a purchase.

We feature links to several retailers to help readers find the one that is the best fit for them. Find out more about how Ringspo works here.

What to know about selling gold

The first thing to understand about selling gold is that the majority of the gold that is sold on the second-hand market is melted down, refined and then recast as gold bullion – gold bars, gold coins etc.

Start with your gold

The gold is taken to a refinery

The gold is melted and repoured

Gold bullion is produced

Gold bullion is basically a range of standard-sized items that can then be resold. They are usually gold bars of different sizes:

cast gold bars

These standard sized items can then be sold on to someone who may view the gold as an investment or may want to use the gold for another purpose.

This means gold buyers view the gold they buy as a commodity, rather than a valued heirloom or sentimental piece of jewelry.

For these commercial gold buyers, the key thing that determines the amount paid is the amount of raw gold that an item contains.

The flipside of this is that gold is a very valuable material, and it can be surprising how much even a small amount of gold can be worth.

If you have several gold items that you are looking to sell, the raw gold can be surprisingly valuable, as we’ll see.

What type of gold can be sold?

The first thing to know is that there are several types of gold that can be sold, and some of them are treated in different ways:

  1. Gold jewelry
  2. Gold ingots
  3. Gold coins
  4. Scrap gold

1. Selling gold jewelry

If you have high quality jewelry which could be resold as a piece of jewelry, then it may not make sense to sell it to a gold refinery where it will be melted down and recycled.

Instead, an antique store may be a more suitable destination for it. However, it surprises many people that very few pieces of jewelry are worth more as jewelry than they are for their raw gold value. Very few people want to buy used engagement rings due to what they signify: the start of the next chapter in their lives.

The other type of gold jewelry that can be more valuable as jewelry rather than just the value of the raw materials is ‘signed’ jewelry. This is jewelry from a ‘name brand’ like Cartier, Tiffany & Co. or Van Cleef & Arpels:

designer rings resale

If you have gold jewelry from one of these premium brands, it’s best to sell them to someone within the jewelry trade who can sell them as jewelry, rather than melting them down.

But if you have a gold wedding ring that doesn’t have a luxury brand name attached, a class ring or other gold jewelry that does not have intricate details then it is more likely that you will get more for them as raw gold, rather than trying to resell them as a piece of jewelry.

2. Selling gold bullion

Gold bullion is the easiest type of gold to sell as it is already in the form that can be then be sold on – it doesn’t need to be melted down.

Because it is in an easy-to-use format, it also means that you will get the highest value possible for the gold.

3. Selling gold coins

Gold coins are basically smaller-sized gold bullion, usually weighing 1oz or 1/2 and oz.

The difference between gold coins and gold ingots is that they have been minted by a sovereign government, are legal tender, and have a minimum ‘face value’ in addition to a ‘melt value’ of the raw gold.

Common gold coins are American Eagles, Maple Leafs, Chinese panda, philharmonics and Krugerrands:

4. Selling ‘scrap’ gold

The last type of gold that can be sold and recycled is ‘scrap’ gold. This could be the gold that is harvested from computer or cellphone components, or even from old teeth fillings.

We won’t look at this in detail in this blog, but scrap gold of this type can also be sold to gold buyers who will melt it down and reform it into bullion.

How much is your gold worth?

engagement ring budget setting

There are two prices that are important when determining how much your gold is worth

– The current market value for gold

– The value that a gold buyer will pay you for this gold

We’ll look at both and why there’s a difference between the two.

Current gold market value

Worldwide, there is an agreed market value for gold, just like there is for oil and other ‘commodities’ that can be bought and sold. This price is known as the ‘spot price’.

Incredibly, this market price is determined twice a day by a conference call in London amongst 15 of the largest gold traders. This price, known as the ‘London fix’ then determines that price across the rest of the globe.

Gold prices are traditionally given in a unit of measurement called ‘troy’ weight. It’s an archaic system with measurements that aren’t used in any other

  • Grain
  • Pennyweight (24 grains) – symbol ‘dwt’
  • Troy ounce (20 pennyweights) – symbol ‘oz t’
  • Troy pound (12 troy ounces)

Because this is an old-fashioned system, you may not see it on websites when you search for ‘gold price’, but it is still featured on gold coins and gold bars.

The price you see online is usually on a per ounce basis.

Gold prices are currently rising

The good news if you are looking to sell gold is that gold prices are significantly higher than they were a year ago.

Gold has traditionally been seen as a ‘safe haven’ for investors, so when there is uncertainty in the stock market and stock prices go down, the price of gold usually goes up.

We’re seeing this at the moment, and if you look at the live price of gold in the graph below, you can see that it’s around 30% higher than this time last year. If you have gold to sell, this is obviously great news!

It’s important to know that the gold market price is for 24 karat, or 99.99% pure gold, which is presented in a standard form – either gold bars of gold coins.

What’s the price someone will buy gold from you for?

Apart from the ‘market price’ of gold, the other price that is relevant to you as a gold seller is the price that someone will actually pay you for your gold.

When a gold buyer buys gold, they are planning on melting it down, recasting it and then reselling it and they will be aiming to sell it for as close to the current gold market price as possible.

To do this, they will have costs that they need

  • Equipment to smelt gold and recast it in a form which can be sold (gold bars or coins)
  • Employee costs
  • Overheads like rent, electricity, insurance
  • Licenses to professional bodies

As they are a business, they also want to make a profit to allow the business to continue to operate. For all of these reasons, the price that a gold buyer pays for second-hand gold can’t be the ‘market price’.

How gold purity affects the price you’ll get for your jewelry

Most people have heard of gold karats, but not everyone really knows what this means.

Karat is a measure of the purity of gold and is measured on a scale using 24 karats.

24 karat gold is 100% pure gold, while 12 karat is 50% pure gold. Each of the different karats basically indicates how much gold is contained and the further down you go on the “karat” scale the less pure your gold is

KaratParts goldPurity
24 karat gold24/24100% pure gold
22 karat gold22/2491.6% pure gold
18 karat gold18/2475% pure gold
14 karat gold14/2458.5% pure gold
12 karat gold12/2450% pure gold
10 karat gold10/2441.7% pure gold
9 karat gold9/2437.5% pure gold

This may sound obvious, but the amount of raw gold in your item will affect the price that you will be able to sell it for.

18 is a 50% larger number than 12, so an 18 karat wedding ring has 50% more gold in it than a 12 karat gold ring.  An 18 karat wedding ring will therefore be worth 50% more to the gold buyer as it is the raw gold it contains that they are concerned about.

How to find out what type of gold you have

Most gold items will have the type of gold they are stamped on them. If this is a ring, it’s likely to be stamped on the inside of the band.

While some gold items will use the karat system and have, for example, ‘18k’ stamped on them, some items may use the European Hallmark system which uses a number to relate to the percentage purity:

999100% pure gold24 karat gold
91691.6% pure gold22 karat gold
75075% pure gold18 karat gold
58558.5% pure gold14 karat gold
50050% pure gold12 karat gold
41741.7% pure gold10 karat gold
37537.5% pure gold9 karat gold

‘750’ hallmark, indicating 18 karat gold:


22k hallmark:

Selling yellow gold vs. rose gold vs. white gold

Much modern jewelry is white gold, and in the last 10 years ‘rose gold’ has also become increasingly popular:

White gold and rose gold both also use the karat system to show how much pure gold they contain.

The difference between each of the three colors of gold is the other metals used to make up the rest of the alloy. The different blends of metals give each type of golds its distinctive color.

Typical compositions of 14 karat yellow gold, white gold and rose gold are:

14 karat yellow gold composition:

  • 58.5% gold
  • 25% silver
  • 17% copper

14 karat  white gold composition:

  • 58.5% gold
  • 20% copper
  • 14.5% nickel
  • 7.5% zinc

14 karat rose gold composition:

  • 58.5% gold
  • 30% copper
  • 21.5% silver

The important thing to look at is that each of the three types of gold have the exact same amount of pure gold in them – 58.5%.

If you are looking to sell white gold or rose gold jewelry – it can still be melted down and refined, and is just as valuable as yellow gold

How much is your gold jewelry worth?

So we know that the value of your gold jewelry depends on the amount of gold it contains and current market price.

You would think that there would be an easy way to find out exactly what your gold is worth, right?

Gold price calculators

There are several online gold calculators which will allow you to see how much your gold is worth based on the spot market price:

To use them you need to know two things:

  1. The weight of the item
  2. The gold purity of the item

One thing to know when using these type of calculators is that they will give you the market price of the gold. The value show doesn’t necessarily reflect the payout you would receive from a gold buyer.

Any gold buyer will need to ensure that their costs are covered and that they can keep their business running with a profit, so the price they offer will be lower than this.

Examples of gold jewelry values

The best way to understand how much you are likely to receive for your gold is to look at what has been paid out in the past. We’re going to use prices from Express Gold Cash as they are the most transparent about their pricing and offer very fair prices.

14k gold jewelry examples:

14k gold ring
Weight: 5dwt
Price paid: $139.08

14k gold bracelet
Weight: 17.7dwt
Price paid: $492.33

14k gold watch
Weight: 23.1 dwt
Price paid: $642.53

18k gold jewelry examples:

18k gold pin
Weight: 1.9dwt
Price paid: $67.76

18k gold charm
Weight: 4.2dwt
Price paid: $149.77

18k gold bracelet
Weight: 18.8dwt
Price paid: $670.42

There are more examples over at the Express Gold Cash website, but these should give you an idea of the type of value that can be attained from gold jewelry.

Best place to sell your gold

There are many places you can sell your gold, and which you chose can depend on what type of gold you are and how much of a rush you are in to sell:

– Pawnbroker
– Selling directly yourself
– Selling to a jeweler
– Selling to a dedicated gold buyer

A key thing to know is that the more keen you are to sell quickly, the lower the price you are likely to get for your gold.


Selling your gold at a pawnbrokers

Pawn shops are a fast and convenient way to trade valuables for cash. It’s a reasonably well-regulated industry and it’s a safe way to trade your gold in.

The flip side of this of paying for convenience and speed is that you are likely to be offered significantly less than your gold’s actual value.

PawnNerd is a website owned by a pawn store owner which aims to explain how pawn shops work to consumers. In their article about how pawn shops buy gold, they say:

“you can expect a pawn shop to pay somewhere between 40-70% of the current scrap market value of your gold.”

If you don’t need the cash today, then there are other places to sell t ensure you get significantly more for your gold.

Selling your gold to jeweler

Selling your gold to a jeweler who can re-use the gold may be a logical place to start.

However, most jewelers don’t have the equipment or skills to melt gold down, refine it and re-use it. Instead, most jewelers would need to sell the gold on to someone who can do this.

Selling to a jeweler is essentially adding in an extra middleman in the process, and every additional layer you add into a process means that the amount they can give you for your jewelry will be reduced.

It makes sense therefore to skip jewelers completely to make sure that you get the most possible for your gold.

Selling your gold through is an online marketplace where anyone can list an item of jewelry and jewelry buyers can bid on it.

In theory this sounds great, and for the right pieces of jewelry, it can be. If you have jewelry from a luxury brand like Tiffany & Co, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier or Bvlgari then they are a great fit for you.

designer rings resale

Worthy can put you in touch with a large number of jewelry buyers who are specifically looking for these high-end items. They are interested in them as jewelry, rather than just the gold value.

If your jewelry doesn’t have one of these brand names attached to it then probably isn’t the right fit for you.

Selling your gold to a dedicated gold buyer

Dedicated gold buyers have the infrastructure needed to make the gold buying, smelting and selling process as efficient as possible. As a result they can offer you the best price for your gold.

While they may not be quite as fast as pawn shops, their streamlined process means that you can receive your payment very quickly.  Most dedicated gold buyers ask you to send them your gold items so that they can appraise it and determine its value. Once that’s done, if you decide to accept the offer, it’s likely that you’ll receive the cash the next day.

Dedicated gold buyers aren’t the best place to sell gold that is likely to continue to be used as jewelry, but if you have gold that is going to be melted down then they should deliver the smoothest transaction and the highest price.

One thing to know is that not all dedicated gold buyers are the same – some will pay considerably more for your gold.

Recommended place to sell your gold

Our recommended gold buyer is Express Gold Cash.

When you’re selling gold, one of the key things you want is to make sure that you are getting a fair price and ExpressGoldCash offers 90% of the value of gold bullion & up to 85% of the refined value of gold jewelry.

Their commitment to delivering the best price possible includes a guarantee that they will match any offer from any national online competitor plus an additional 10% on top.

The other thing that you want to be sure of with a company that you are selling gold to is that they are trustworthy. Most large ‘we buy gold’ services ask you to mail in your gold to be valued. If you are mailing something potentially worth hundreds of dollars then you want to ensure that they are honest.

At the time of writing, Express Cash Gold has a rating of 4.9 from 506 Google reviews:

Even more impressively, it has 5 stars from 1,666 reviews on Trustpilot, 93% of which are the top grade:

A business that is offering people money for their gold could very easily receive a lot of negative reviews if people were unhappy with the amounts offered. Luckily, with Express Gold Cash this is definitely not the case.

Finally, you want it to be an easy process. Express Cash Gold’s is super simple:

1. Request a free appraisal kit

Fill out the form on the Express Gold Cash site and send you a free appraisal kit with a prepaid Fedex envelope to send your item to them Express Gold Cash kit with a prepaid FedEx envelope

2. Send your gold (for free..)

Send in your gold using the pre-paid FedEx envelope – it’s insured for $5,000 as standard, but this can be upped to $100,000 if needed.

Once they receive your item, you’ll receive a confirmation email and then your gold is assessed by a qualified appraiser. You’ll then receive an offer based type of material, weight, and the daily price of gold.

3) Receive your cash

If you accept the offer, you’ll receive your payment within 24 hours. If you decide that you don’t want to proceed, Express Gold Cash will send your items back to you free of charge, no questions asked.

It’s a super simple process. While it may not be quite as fast as a pawn shop, if you aren’t in a rush to receive cash today, you’re guaranteed to get the best possible price for your gold.

Selling gold FAQs

Do you have to pay taxes on cash from selling gold?

The IRS views gold is as a capital asset, with any gains taxed as income.

What this means for selling gold jewelry is that if you sell the jewelry for more than was paid for it, you should count the difference between the two as taxable income. Capital gains on collectibles, including gold jewelry, are taxed at 28%.

For example, if a bracelet was bought for $100 and sold for $200, you have made a gain of $100. Tax wold therefore be $28.

In reality, it’s unlikely that the amount you receive will be more than you paid for it, so you shouldn’t have to worry about this.

What is the gold ‘spot price’?

The spot price of gold is the price it can be traded now. While the spot price is mainly used by gold investors, it’s still relevant to people selling gold jewelry as it will be one of the factors used to decide how much you will be offered for your gold.

Can you sell broken gold jewelry?

Yes, you can sell broken gold jewelry. The condition of an item doesn’t matter to a gold buyer as as they will melt the metal down.. Only the weight, purity and gold price on the day are factored into the calculation.

How do I know if gold is real gold?

In an ideal world we would be able to rely on hallmarks to verify whether something is real gold or not. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. Acid is commonly used to test gold and you can do this at home using white vinegar:

1: Pour white vinegar into a glass

2: Place your item into the glass of vinegar.

3: Let the item sit in the glass of vinegar for approximately 15 minutes.

4: Remove the item and rinse with water

If it’s real gold, your item will shine brightly. If it’s fake gold then there will be a reaction with the ascetic acid in the vinegar and it will become discolored.

Note: It’s important to know that this test can permanently discolor the item you are testing if it is not real gold.

What does dwt mean when it comes to gold?

DWT is the abbreviation for ‘pennyweight’. The ‘d’ comes from ‘denarius’, an ancient Roman coin, while the ‘wt’ represents ‘weight’.

1dwt = 1.555 grams