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Protect yourself when selling

If you have gold to sell, whether quality heirlooms or pieces of “scrap” (broken chains, a single earring, dental crowns), you need to protect against rip-offs, say area gold buyers.

Here are the basic steps to follow before selling:

• Check with the Better Business Bureau. Some area gold buyers, including one in Coeur d’Alene, have been red-flagged after a series of customer complaints. Or simply do a Web search on the name of company along with the word “scam.”

• Get more than one opinion, including that of a reputable jeweler. Dan Austin, owner of Austin’s Fine Jewelry, said, “Independent jewelers tend to be, as a rule, more knowledgeable than other retailers.”

• Try to find a recommendation through a friend or relative.

• Don’t trust the weekend gold-buying companies that set up in hotels, Austin said. He also advised not to trust online companies that require you to mail gold to them for evaluation and possible sale.

• Don’t expect a big payout. You might get $230 for an old class ring, but don’t expect all the gold you bring in to have high value. Very few casual pieces of jewelry are made of 18-karat gold or higher.

Tom Sowa