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Want to sell your gold, silver jewelry? Research first.

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More and more jewelers, motivated by record-high gold prices, are buying gold from jewelry owners who need cash, according to Amanda Gizzi, spokeswoman for Jewelers of America, a trade organization based in New York. Henry Cowit Inc., the nation's largest fur dealer, has seen inventory jump about 10 percent this year as more sellers from wealthy neighborhoods seek to raise quick cash, according to co-owner Larry Cowit, in New York. Traveling brokers from Ohio Valley Gold & Silver Refinery have extended their purchasing events again and again – to 18 weeks in a row in Laurel, Miss., and 26 weeks in Sarasota, Fla. – as locals wait as long as seven hours to market their attic treasures.

This might be a fine time to sell certain types of items. With gold topping $1,400 per ounce in November and silver flirting with record highs, too, one might get more than ever before for an old ring or broken necklace. But to get fair deals, sellers need to come prepared.

With gold jewelry, would-be sellers should check markings to see how pure it is: 24-karat is 100-percent pure gold. They should know its precise weight, too, and then calculate – based on the day's market price for gold – how much their gold would command if melted down at a refinery. A jeweler is likely to offer a bit less in order to make a profit, but sellers can improve their bargaining positions by comparing a few offers.

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