Cutting down on cash-for-gold

A handful of gold jewelry

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Kai Ryssdal: Gold gave it up a little bit today; couldn't keep the highs it hit earlier this week. But it's been on quite a run the past couple of months -- almost $1,400 an ounce.

Economic unease tends to do that. The high prices have people scrounging through their jewelry boxes to find gold they aren't interested in anymore. They don't have to look far for a place to cash in. Gold brokers are only too pleased to buy your jewelry and then melt it down.

But politicians in Chicago aren't keen on more Cash for Gold stores popping up. Chicago Public Radio's Tony Arnold reports.


Tony Arnold: If you have trouble sleeping, you may be familiar with ads like this:

Woman: I got $583. All I did was look through my drawer full of jewelry I never wear.

Man: Turn your unwanted or broken jewelry, gold, silver, platinum, rings, chains and bracelets into cold hard cash.

Or take it down to the local cash for gold store. So many of them cropping up in Chicago that the City Council is considering adding new regulations that would to slow them down.

Alderman Ed Burke says the stores give criminals a quick way to dump their loot for cash.

Ed Burke: We can't legislate them into honesty, but we can make it more transparent and let community groups see who is operating the business.

Bruce Lowis: Believe it or not, with the gold here and I'll just take these watches for parts, you've got like $140 worth of stuff here.

That's Bruce Lowis giving the good news to a customer. Lowis runs Gold Star Jewelry & Coin Company on Chicago's North Side. He's got giant rings on every finger and a gold chain around his neck. He says cash for gold stores deserve a closer look.

Lowis: Because they've cropped up so heavily in the last couple years, they need scrutiny.

Lowis's family has been in the business four generations. His store wouldn't be subject to the new city regulations. The permits would only be for new gold stores. The City Council is expected to vote on the measure next month.

In Chicago, I'm Tony Arnold for Marketplace.

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