Stefan Klein photo
With the value of gold up these days — currently hovering around $900 an ounce — and the economy's downturn, more Richmonders are selling their old gold. These days they can do it without setting foot in a pawnshop.
Private "gold parties," at which consultants pay cash on the spot, are gaining momentum in Richmond. "It's a more comfortable way for people to get money for their gold," says Mia Watts, who hosted her own party in early March.
Watts invited the same friends she'd normally invite to her Pampered Chef and Southern Living parties, but this time, instead of paying for and ordering products, guests left with a little cash. "People mostly brought chains, necklaces and bracelets that were kinked up," says Watts, who used a consultant from The Gold Refinery (thegoldrefinery.com) who measured the weight and value of party-goers' gold. She told invitees to bring things they never wear or that didn't have sentimental value.
One guest, Lori Bonjo, brought two pairs of tiny little hoop earrings that were sitting at the bottom of her jewelry box and an old chain of her husband's. She was stunned when she walked out with $178.
Bonjo was so pleased, she plans to host a party of her own. Watts says she's heard of four other parties in the works through friends, one of which will use a consultant who's flying in from Chicago and works through My Gold Party (mygoldparty.com).
Hosts and consultants of the larger companies get a cut of the cash, which pays roughly 75 percent of the value of the gold and is then sent to the companies to be liquidated. Other party-throwers are buying equipment, doing the measuring themselves and pawning the gold locally.
Siblings Melissa and Haig Kambourian, who opened K Studio by Kambourian in March and have a large "We buy gold" sign in their window, say that a lot of the gold they buy is coming from such parties, and they worry that attendees are getting ripped off. "I think they're paying $6 per penny weight, while we pay between $13 to $40," says Haig. They melt gold down and make new jewelry they sell wholesale to jewelers.
"We get about 20 to 30 people coming in to sell their gold every week," says Melissa, who discourages gold parties but understands that it's a social gathering and that those attending might not be motivated to go to it alone. "If you go to one, don't expect to get the best price," she warns, "but I'm sure you'll have fun with friends."