In this tough economy, gold is a hot commodity.
Thousands of people are selling their gold jewelry to pay mortgages, rents, and bills. How much can you get for your gold?
KTLA found that amount will depend on where you take it, and how hard you negotiate.
In January, we noticed ads for on line companies that allowed you to send in your gold and receive a quick check. We wanted to investigate how these worked, and how much you could get, compared to the stores you might walk into to exchange your gold.
But our story took a different turn when during our research, we first visited a few local gold dealers to learn how much our gold should be worth. What we got was an eye-opening lesson.
Wilshire Coin Exchange in Santa Monica has been around for more than fifty years. There, Brian gave us the basics about gold. He explained that most gold jewelry gets melted down. How much you get for your gold depends mostly on its purity and weight.
"14 karat is roughly fifty percent gold, 18 karat is roughly 75 percent gold, and then 24 karat is pure gold," Brian told us.
Brian tested our jewelry, using a special stone and some acid. The acid would eat away at anything that was not gold. The testing showed all of our gold was 14 karat.
Then Brian explained how Wilshire Coin decides the amount it will pay a customer.
"We pay 90 cents on the dollar," Brian said. "You know, we work on 10 percent (commission) instead of some of these companies that work on 70 percent."
The day we visited Wilshire Coin, gold was trading at 940 dollars an ounce. Our jewelry weighed 65.5 grams. Brian told us: "your grand total is 1,050 dollars."
As we continued our research, we wondered if Brian's quote might be a little high. So we went back five days later with the same jewelry, but this time with a hidden camera.
"I'm going to say by the look and the feel of it, it's 14 karat," said Greg, another employee at Wilshire Coin Exchange.
When Greg helped us, the price of gold was even higher than it was a few days earlier. But Greg's quote was much lower.
"Six hundred dollars," said Greg. The producer asked: "For everything?" Greg answered: "Yes. You want cash or check?"
Six hundred nine dollars for the same jewelry that had fetched us 1,050 dollars five days before.
And gold had only gone up in value. We returned to the store to ask why.
"So what gives?" asked our news anchor, Leila Feinstein. Brian answered with a question. "What gives?" he laughed. "Are you serious?"
"Totally serious," answered Leila. "We brought in the exact same gold. Exact same gold."