Golden opportunity at gold parties

Marketplace Staff Feb 20, 2009

Golden opportunity at gold parties

Marketplace Staff Feb 20, 2009


Tess Vigeland: The price of an ounce of gold closed at $1,001.80 today. Investors fled to the shiny metal as they watched bank stocks plummet. Gold is seen as a so-called safe haven, a place to park your money where you know it will always be worth something. If the thousand-dollar-per-ounce news finds you fingering your gold ring or serpentine necklace right now, join the party. No, really, join the gold party. Ronni Radbill has our story.

Ronni Radbill: There are more than two dozen guests at this Virginia home, just outside Washington, D.C. They’re here for a gold party. It’s somewhat like a Tupperware party. But instead of buying plastic, guests are selling gold — tangled clumps of unwanted, outdated or broken necklaces, bracelets and earrings — anything they can dig up for cash.

Illeana Perotti: You actually go to this party and make money. That’s a big deal.

Illeana Perotti made $500 at another gold party and came to this one to sell a little more. It works like this: The host invites friends and a buyer. In this case, local jeweler JJ Singh, who buys gold for Atlanta-based company Golden Girls. She sits down with each guest and, with high-tech equipment, determines if the pieces are in fact gold.

JJ Singh: So that’s lighting up at 14 karat and now just popped to 18. Is this an Italian piece?

The gold is weighed, and the guest is handed a check based on the day’s market rate.

Terry Taylor: Two hundred fifty bucks! I can take my husband out for a great dinner or something. Or, I can go buy a new piece of jewelry. That’s even better.

This was Terry Taylor’s first gold party. She came with an old tie clip and a serpentine chain, a gift from her ex. In some cases, guests run home and pick up more loot, like Katherine Drahozal who needs a new roof for her home and wanted the cash more than the memories.

Katherine Drahozal:

My first boyfriend. I got rid of one of the chains he gave me. And I’ve kept that all these years, and it’s gone.

Most of what the guests bring is jewelry, but JJ Singh says there are surprises.

Singh: When the first few gold teeth came in it was a little disconcerting. One gold tooth did come in with the actual tooth enamel part still attached.

Once the gold is collected, whatever it might be, Singh mails the metal to a refinery where it’s melted and recycled. If all goes well, the refinery pays her a higher price than she paid out to the guests. The party host gets a cut, and Golden Girls donates two and a half percent to a charity of the host’s choice.

With gold prices so high, Singh says it’s tough to keep up with seller demand. And that might be the case for a while. Frank Holmes, CEO of U.S. Global Investors, says gold will become increasingly valuable as the Fed prints more money to pump into the economy.

Frank Holmes: Money supply is growing more rapidly than the amount of gold that’s coming out. Gold has a high correlation to money supply. Historically, that money supply turns around and starts buying gold and gold prices start to rise.

And if that happens, gold parties could continue to gain popularity.

Singh: So your total is $174.44.

Gold Party Participant:

Oh my God!

Singh: You going to say goodbye?

Gold Party Participant:

I’m going to say goodbye, see you later, give me the check.

In Washington, I’m Ronni Radbill for Marketplace.

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