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The MGS Precious Metals Blog

Manhattan Gold & Silver is an industry leader in precious metal pricing and refining with more than 30 years of experience. During our time in the business, we’ve found the topic of precious metals to be a vast and interesting one. Here on our precious metals blog, we write in-depth posts about the science of precious metal refining, historical and modern uses for precious metals, market news, and much more. Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay current, and discuss the latest posts on our Facebook page.

Top 3 Things to Pawn at a Pawn Shop

January 7, 2020 07:00
Top 3 Things to Pawn at a Pawn Shop

In How Do Pawnbrokers Work, we looked at the ins-and-outs of the pawnbroker industry, including how transactions work, how items are evaluated and the pros and cons of pawnshop loans.

But when it comes to pawning, not all things are created equal. What exactly do pawn shops buy, for example, and more importantly, what items are most in demand?

Precious Metals

Jewelry is always in demand at pawnshops, especially if your items are made of precious metals like gold and silver. That’s because precious metals are easy to price and sell. This is especially true of gold and silver bullion, which tend to be 99.999 percent pure.

Another reason pawnbrokers prefer precious metals is they generally appreciate over time. If you’re pawning bullion, it’s likely to fetch 50 percent of its value, while selling it outright will land you between 60-88 percent, depending on the metal and how much of it you have.

When pawning any type of precious metal, however, your stash may be tested to authenticate its melt value. There are several ways to spot fake gold, including a simple scratch test.

If you have precious metal you want to sell, you can also get a quote from us. Just tell us what type of precious metals you have, how pure they are, and we will give you your payout estimate. We are headquartered in New York but we serve customers from all over the country. All you have to do is ship us your lot.

Gems

While precious metals are tops when it comes to pawning, gemstones come in a close second. The rarer the gem, the better the cash value. Most pawnshops don’t have a gemologist on staff, so always bring receipts, certificates or any paperwork that will help authenticate your jewels.

The Top 3 gemstones, according to PawnGuru, are:

Diamonds

Diamond is the world’s most popular gemstone. They are perfect for jewelry because they polish well and can only be scratched by other diamonds. Their value is based on their cut, color, carat and clarity.

Rubies
Rubies, which get their red hue from traces of the mineral chromium, are slightly softer than diamonds. The most precious rubies are deep red in color with a hint of blue.

Pearls
Saltwater cultured pearls account for only about 5 percent of the global pearl production; the other 95 percent are freshwater pearls. According to Natural Geographic, a natural pearl of value is found in less than 1 in every 10,000 wild oysters.

Keep in mind sentimental value, even it’s for a family heirloom, doesn’t translate to monetary value. A quality diamond or gem, however, can net you a four-figure amount.

Collectible Coins

You’ll likely get great value from a pawnshop for your rare coins. Like precious metals, pawnbrokers are able to immediately identify a coin’s value either through price guides or by checking the scrap metal value.

When it comes to collectible coins, however, other factors can affect their value, including:

Rarity – this includes the number of coins that were originally minted. Rarity also takes into account how many of those coins are still in circulation today.

Demand – when demand for a coin outpaces its supply, the value of a coin increases.

Grade – a coin’s wear and condition can also mean significant differences in the value of a coin.

Just like gems, a certification of authenticity or grading papers will considerably up the price you can get for your coins. Here are some tips for verifying coin authenticity.

Remember most pawnshops don’t want to buy your items; they simply use them as collateral against a loan. Manhattan Gold & Silver services industries that use gold, silver, platinum or palladium through the course of their own business, including pawnbrokers.

How to Shop for Estate Jewelry

December 31, 2019 07:00
How to Shop for Estate Jewelry

When it comes to jewelry, there’s plenty to choose from.

There’s fashion jewelry, for example, which is generally characterized by ephemeral pieces made of materials that barely outlast their trends, like brass, copper or aluminum. But the growing popularity of secondhand marketplace apps like Thredup and Poshmark are making fast-fashion—and jewelry—uncool.

Now, more and more jewelry shoppers are looking for high-quality materials and superior craftsmanship. They want pieces with a meaningful story—and all at a reasonable price.

If you’re on the hunt for an authentic cameo or a vintage Gucci Horsebit bracelet but don’t want to break the bank, estate shopping may be up your alley. There are plenty of other reasons to shop for estate jewelry, including:

Uniqueness - You may find some distinctive vintage pieces that don’t look like anything for sale in current retail stores.

History - You’ll likely uncover some pieces with interesting backgrounds. Look for personal engravings on rings or small surprises in lockets.

Quality – Craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap. But an estate piece will likely be more affordable than if you bought the same item new, like if you’re lucky enough to land a vintage Tiffany East West watch.

Interested in buying some estate jewelry? Here are some tips to get you started:

Understand Jewelry Terminology

First, it’s important to understand the difference between estate jewelry, vintage jewelry and antique jewelry.

Estate jewelry refers to any second-hand jewelry. Estate jewelry can be fashion jewelry, for example, and it can also include antiques. All it really means is the items are pre-owned.

Vintage jewelry, meanwhile, is jewelry that is at least 20 to 30 years old—basically anything after 1990. Provided they aren’t replicas, chunky Lucite rings and gummy bear necklaces would all be considered vintage.

To be considered an antique, however, jewelry must be at least 100 years old. An Edwardian pink topaz ring, circa 1900, is a definite antique.

Where to Buy Estate Jewelry

The most traditional way to buy estate jewelry is through estate sales (also referred to as a tag sale). There, you’ll find items listed for sale with a price tag—and a little bit of room for haggling. The downside of estate sales is that the most in-demand pieces are usually snatched up before they open to the public. It’s also hard to appraise jewelry on the spot and know if the price is fair if you’re not an expert.

Buying estate jewelry at physical auctions also has its pros and cons. While items are vetted and information about each piece is available prior to bidding, it’s easy to get swept up in a bidding war and overpay for something.

You can also shop for estate jewelry right from your couch, thanks to eBay. Just beware of scams. Carefully vet sellers and make sure their ratings are legitimate. Are the items one-of-a-kind, or do you spot multiple items with the same design? Don’t fall for replicas and beware of language like “antique-style.”

One of the easiest (and safest) ways to shop for estate jewelry is through specialized jewelers. Most are licensed buyers and often buy items directly from customers over-the-counter. They generally have a great deal of knowledge about their items, including when it was made.

Picking the Right Piece

While some jewelry appreciates in value, don’t buy items solely for investment purposes. Precious metals and stones are subject to price fluctuation. Instead, pick pieces you love, will get use out of, and are within your budget. If they do appreciate in value, consider it a bonus.

Be Aware of Gold Coin Scams Targeting Seniors

December 24, 2019 07:00
Be Aware of Gold Coin Scams Targeting Seniors

There are many reasons why people add gold to their portfolios; it’s a great way to diversify assets and reduce risk. That’s because gold’s value tends to go up when other investments go down.

There are also many ways to invest in gold: shares, certificates, exchange-traded funds and more. None of those, however, have the appeal of owning physical gold. With the help of a reputable coin dealer, you can purchase bullion coins at fair market prices.

Investing in gold coins and collecting gold coins, however, are two different things. While investors generally invest in bullion coins as a hedge against the economy, collectors tend to buy collectible coins for their rarity. It’s precisely that aesthetic and historical value that can spell trouble for collectible coins—and open the door for fraud.

"Because there's so much subjectivity in the value of coins, it's always ripe for deception," Dama Brown, regional director of the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) southwest division, told AARP The Magazine. And the people most at risk for coin scams, unfortunately, are older Americans. But what makes them so particularly susceptible?

The ACP calls it age-associated financial vulnerability, which affects older adult's ability to manage personal finances. They may also be less knowledgeable of modern-day scams and be more trusting. And the fact that seniors are more likely to have nest eggs, own their homes, have excellent credit and be looking for safe investments, make them ideal marks for con artists.

What are some of the most prevalent coin scams? According to The Street, some of the most damaging gold coin scams include:

Most Common Gold Coin Scams

The Coin Grading Scam - Coin grade is what indicates a coin’s condition. While coins that are certified 70 are deemed virtually irreplaceable, coins certified MS70 have never been handled, are considered in “mint state” and even more valuable.

The problem is the difference may be hard to tell, leading unsuspecting coin buyers to overpay by hundreds of dollars.

The Packaging Trick – The packaging may look good, but it can also act as a barrier. Shady dealers may use holders and packaging to prevent people from inspecting their coins. What looks like a pure gold coin behind layers of plastic may actually be a gold-copper alloy coin.

The Fake Coin – By fake, we don’t mean counterfeit gold, but the trafficking of coins that don’t even exist. Many people are fearful of holding a large amount of physical gold in their homes. A con artist will offer to store your coins for you (and charge a fee)—except there never were any gold coins. Seniors are especially vulnerable to these scams perpetrated over the phone.

Tips for Buying Gold Coins

Luckily, avoiding gold coin scams is easy. We recommend these tips to anyone purchasing gold coins:

  1. Don't believe everything you hear. If a dealer tells you they will buy back your coins at more than what you paid, or that grading is guaranteed, they're not being truthful.
  2. Get a second opinion. This is especially true when it comes to the grade and value of your coins. Before you even purchase a coin, make sure you understand the dealer's return and refund policy.
  3. Be wary of grading certificates and slabs. Your best bet is to check your coin's grade with an independent source.
  4. Take possession of your coins. If you don't, you may never know if they actually exist.

The best thing you can do to avoid falling prey to a gold coin scam is to buy from a reputable dealer. How long has the company been in business? Are they a member of a professional organization? Check out their credentials--don't just trust their claims.

And above all, don’t succumb to high-pressure sales tactics. If something’s too good to be true, it probably is.

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