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SPOKANE -- All you have to do is turn on the TV and you'll quickly realize gold is a hot topic.
Steve Baldwin at Spokane Coin Exchange has been buying scrap gold for more than 30 years.
"Everybody's jumping on the band wagon," says Baldwin. "I've had people come in here shocked. They'll walk in here with a gold crown, just an insignificant looking amount of gold about the size of your little fingernail, and walk out with $75 bucks and they're just flabbergasted."
But with so many buyers out there, how do you decide where to sell?
"I think probably the best way is to do price comparison," says Baldwin.
So, that's what Two on Your Side did. We gathered some gold -- I had a few broken pieces, mismatched earrings, and some things I just never wear. My co-worker, Esther McCord, had earrings someone had given her.
We brought our gold back to Baldwin's shop so he could evaluate what we have to work with.
Baldwin evaluated the gold and determined all of it was 14-karat, with the exception of Esther's earrings. Those are suspect, and required a chemical test.
"If it's gold, it's a very low grade," estimates Baldwin. He believed it to 10-karat gold, and weighed it separately, because it can command a lower price.
The 14-karat gold comes out to weigh 27.2 grams, and the 10-karat gold weighed 3.45 grams.
Two on Your Side chose six different places to compare prices. We sent KREM 2 staff members in without cameras so gold buyers didn't know we're comparison shopping.
First we checked in at a Gold Buyers of America event being held at a local hotel. The buyer said he'll give us $264 for our gold.
Next, we head to a second Gold Buyers of America event at another Spokane hotel. The gold buyer there offered $300.
The next day we travel to Dottie's Discount Jewelry inside Pawn 1, and they also offered $300.
At Jewelry Design Center, they don't want to buy Esther's earrings because they say they aren't gold, but offered $261 for all the rest, plus an extra 25% of the value in a store gift card.
Next stop, Eastern Washington Coin Company -- There, they offer $250 for everything.
The last business requires we part with our gold and mail it to cash4gold.com, a national company you often see advertised.
Ten days after sending the gold pieces on their way, a check arrived for $139.52 If I cashed the check, it would mean I accepted their deal. But that amount was less than half of what most of the other retailers were willing to pay for the same gold. So cash4gold.com has a satisfaction guarantee offer, allowing you to return the check within 12 days of the date written on it, and they will return your gold.
That's what we did. After returning the check, a few weeks later, as promised, they returned my gold.
Here's another look at the prices we were quoted in our comparison shopping trip:
Gold Buyers of America #1 - $264
Gold Buyers of America # 2 - $300
Dottie's Pawn 1 - $300
Jewelry Design Center - $261 + 25% gift card
Eastern Washington Coin Company - $250
Cash 4 Gold - $139.52
In the end, Baldwin said he's not shocked that the lowest price would come from someone you've never even seen.
"It's a whole different story entirely when you're looking right across the counter at somebody," says Baldwin. "I think you're going to get a lot better shake than if you send it 3,000 miles away through the mail."
Cash 4 Gold can be a convenience for some people -- you don't have to leave your house to sell your gold. So the price they offer might be worth it to some people.
If you have gold you want to sell, you probably want to shop around. You'll want to sort your gold by karat weight, which is usually stamped on the back.
Weigh your gold -- postal scales will give you a good idea of the weight. And check the daily price of gold because it fluctuates daily.