Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

THEY BUY GOLD! 1 Owner Says More Than 300 Area Businesses Are Now in the Market

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

THEY BUY GOLD! 1 Owner Says More Than 300 Area Businesses Are Now in the Market

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull

The price of gold has been bouncing around record highs in recent weeks. And the advertisements are everywhere: Sell your gold!!! We buy gold!!! Highest prices paid here!!!

Armed with a few rings, necklaces and earrings, I went out, without identifying myself as a reporter, to see what a few gold buyers would offer for that small handful.

The prices ranged from $412 to $500.

But these were only four shops out of many. Bill Hatchett, owner of A-Coin & Stamp Gallery on St. Augustine Road, estimates that, spurred by high gold prices, there are 300-400 businesses buying gold in Jacksonville right now. And that doesn't include those who come in from out of town and set up shop in a motel for a day or two.

There seems to be plenty of business. Not only are people cleaning out dresser drawers and bringing in old jewelry, they're selling the gold coins and bars they've bought for investment over the past few years, Hatchett said.

Five years ago, gold was selling for $568 an ounce. Thursday, it was at a record high of $1,684.90. But don't expect gold buyers to pay that.

They measure gold in pennyweights, or 1/20th a troy ounce, which is a little less than the traditional ounce we use for most measurements.

Gold buyers are paying $25-$32 per pennyweight for 14 karat gold, which is 58.3 percent gold and common in jewelry.

Although the price has been bouncing up and down by $30-$40 a day, Raymond Essa of Gold Star Pawn and Jewelry said that doesn't have a major impact on prices he pays.

"If you have $200 worth," Essa said, "it might mean $7 or $8 either way that day."

And $200-$300 is his average purchase, he said.

At three of the four shops, it took less than 10 minutes as the employee used a magnifying loop to check the karat stamped on each piece.

At Fast Payday Loans on 103rd Street, where they've been buying gold for only four months, the process took 30 minutes as each piece was rubbed on a test stone.

Acid was dripped onto the stone to determine if the piece was correctly marked.

All four business came to the same conclusion on each piece. Most were 14 karat. One ring was 10 karat and one necklace was silver with a gold plating.

At the two businesses where we were informed of the weights, Gold Buyers and Gold Star, the weights were the same.

Fast Payday and Gold Buyers said they could give only preliminary prices. Once we agreed to sell it, they would have to file into each piece and use acid again to determine if the stamped designations were correct.

Essa and Hatchett said they'd been doing it long enough to know.

"If you're in the business, you know," said Hatchett, who's been in the business for 32 years. "Every now and then, if there's a piece we're not sure about, we'll test it.

"But we know what to look for."

The basic procedure was the same at each: Check the karat and weigh it. …

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