Smart Consumer: Go for gold and make a packet with your unwanted jewellery
A couple of gold rings, a necklace, bracelets and a pair of earrings; this was the unworn gold jewellery owned by Veronica McLoughlin from Dublin. But not any more.
After seeing their adverts on TV, Veronica sold her jewellery to gold-buying company forgottengold.com.
"I chose the company because they are Irish," says Veronica, "and I was impressed with their efficiency. I was expecting about €200 but I got almost €500 because the gold content was high; one piece was 24 carat and others mainly 18 carat and some nine carat too.
"The cheque arrived the next day and I was thrilled."
Catherine Howe from Galway sold a necklace, which had been an unwanted gift, to the same company.
She was thrilled to get €300 for the gold, money that she can now put towards her summer holiday.
But she had also sent in a gold ring, with high sentimental value and was offered just €30 for that. She was disappointed that the gold content wasn't higher, especially as it had cost around €200, so she requested that it be returned, which it was the following day.
Rachel Power from Co Cork sold her gold to thegoldretriever.com.
She says the service was fast and efficient and she was delighted with the €300 she got for her three gold chains, a gold ring and a few silver pieces that were gifts she never wore.
Selling your unwanted gold for cash is a new phenomenon, and not just in Ireland.
According to Mark O'Byrne of wealth management company Gold Core, an unprecedented 1,200 tonnes of gold were sold last year.
It's a record high and one that is fuelled, "by housewives all around the world selling their jewellery", as he puts it.
Worldwide recession and record prices for gold have led this charge. "In 2000, gold was selling at around $250 an ounce", explains O'Byrne.
Last Friday, gold reached a record high of $1,116 an ounce, or €820. "And experts say this will continue to increase in 2010", advises O'Byrne.
That €820 per ounce equates to approximately €26 per gram for 24-carat gold, or reduce that to €13 per gram for 12-carat gold and €9.75 for nine carat. But don't make the mistake of thinking that's the price you'll get when you sell your unloved jewellery.
You're likely to get between 50pc and 65pc of the gold price listed on the day the company receives your gold.
But given that you won't be able to melt down your own earrings or sell it to a gold refiner, if you don't want the jewellery but do want the cash, the choice is there.
You should also forget about the retail cost for your jewellery as this will bear no relation to the intrinsic value of the gold, as Catherine discovered with her gold ring.
In the shop there will be a mark-up of 200pc -- 300pc on the gold value of the piece, as the price takes into account the craftsmanship, brand name, marketing and more.
So a necklace that cost you €200 could only net you €15 or so, depending on the weight and carat, if you sell it for its gold. If it's not broken, you can always consider selling it on eBay instead.
If you decide to sell your gold, make sure you are selling to a reputable company. The company should be able to quote you their current price per gram if you call them.
Make sure you have full contact details for them and that they will phone you with a quote once they have received your gold, which you can accept or reject.
This is to avoid having to return a cheque that has already been posted to you and ask for your gold back, as these can come with onerous terms. For example, you may have to return the cheque to arrive at the company's office within a specified number of days of the cheque's date, and that may prove tricky.
If you are posting your gold, make sure the package is registered and that your write the value of the gold on the envelope. Some companies will send you a pre-registered envelope but others don't. Remember, if you don't write the value on the pack, your insurance with An Post will reduce from €320 to just €25.39. Avoid companies that use envelopes emblazed with 'gold' logos for you to send your jewellery in as this could invite trouble.
Be aware that you must accept terms and conditions that say you have a right to sell the jewellery, and that every item received should be photographed by the company for their records.
There are gold-buying shops that have sprung up on high streets that pay in cash but many offer a lower rate than other companies so bear that in mind when researching your options.
Anyone with no knowledge of gold can buy a machine that measures gold content, so make sure if you are selling your gold for cash, that you go for the reputable and secure route.