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.

Most Pawned Items by State - Infographic

January 21, 2020 07:00
Most Pawned Items by State - Infographic

When it comes to pawning, not all things are created equal. In the Top 3 Things to Pawn at a Pawn Shop, we looked at what items are most in demand at pawnshops. The items most in demand, however, are not necessarily the tops things Americans are pawning when they need cash. And even that differs based on geography. According to PawnGuru, guns are pawned at disproportionately higher rates in southern and western states, while Michigan pawnshops see more cars and trucks.

Here’s a breakdown of the most popular items pawned by state compared to the national average:

Most Pawned items by state infographic – MGS

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.


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:


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, 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.

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.

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