Steve Duke Presents Tradio Gems: How to inspect the quality and colors of Gold
(Excerpts from Tradio)
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Okay. All righty, well, this year you’re going to see the market has changed quite a bit in the jewelry fashion world, and you’ll notice that gold is in the $1,600 price range right now, it’s come down a little bit. But that still means that gold jewelry is going to be a little expensive. So, how can you get around the fact that it cost you so much?
Well number one, gold jewelry, most of the gold jewelry, not designer pieces, it’s just sort of, standard type of chains and bracelets and things. Suppliers buy them by weight. They’re thrown on a scale and for the most part it’s sold in bulk, and a store may say, “Okay, I want to buy 300 bracelets.” Their supplier will put those on a scale, figure out the gold price, figure out the fabrication price which is what it cost them to produce that particular piece of scale of jewelry. If it comes in from any other country other than America, there’s going to be a tariff on it, an import tariff, and all these get figured into the price of it. Then the person you’re buying it from is going to put in their profit margin.
Now if you’re in a large shopping mall, then their profit margin has got to be much higher because they’re paying a lot of rent. If it’s a smaller store, then their profit margin can be a lot smaller.
So it stands to reason, rather than going to the some of the big fancy-schmancy jewelry stores, you’re going to pay a lot more money for your stuff. You have to, because they need to be able to charge more to pay their bills. It’s just simple economics.
So if you want a deal, then you probably, if you went to a smaller store, I would think you would probably get a better buy on your jewelry.
Now, is Westchester Gold and Diamonds a smaller store? We are. We’ve got the largest inventory of any store in Charlotte or DeSoto County, that I can promise you. Will we give you deals? Heck yeah. We’ve got so much merchandise, I’ve got to give you a deal. We want you in the door, we want you checking our prices, and we want you to be real surprised by how much money you can actually save.
We’ve probably got… I’m not going to say probably, I know we’ve got the largest selection of gold chains, gold charms, gold jewelry in the area. Second to none.
We’ve got at least a thousand gold chains in stock, and when I say a thousand gold chains, I don’t mean one gram, two gram, three gram chains. We have chains up to four and five hundred grams in stock.
You know, if we don’t have it, we can get it for you. Lots of stores will say, “No we don’t have it, thanks for stopping in.” We’re more than happy to pick up the phone, call some of our suppliers and get a particular style chain or bracelet in for you.
Okay, so now we’ve established the fact that you’re going to buy that piece of jewelry by weight. Like it or not, you’re buying it by weight. They may have it pre-priced, but it was bought by weight and sold by weight. When you come in, we’re sticking it right on a scale. It’s like going to the meat market, we’ll keep our thumbs off the scale and you will buy it by the gold price.
Now how do you save yourself some money? Well, number one, we have what we call “pre-loved chains.” We have one section over in our gold chain department that had been traded in, they’ve been polished up, they look brand-spanking new. But I didn’t have to pay a brand new price for it. So I’m able to pass that savings onto you immediately. Another way to save money on your gold chains is by buying a lower karat gold chain.
Now what do I mean by that? We talk about gold chains, we talk about karat. Gold chains, pure gold, is 24 karat gold, there’s no alloys, there’s nothing added to it, it’s pure. It’s been refined, and any impurities in it were taken out of it and you’ll find in some of the countries, like… oh I know I used to buy a lot of stuff out of Vietnam and Thailand, they definitely do 22 and 24 karat gold jewelry. Now why? Because a lot of the time you get to a country where their economy could change at any particular time. They put their wealth into material items, such as gold jewelry. For the simple reason, their paper money could be worthless tomorrow.
And they may have to leave their country tomorrow, so what they do is wear their wealth around their neck or around their body. They can put it in their pocket, walk out across the boundaries and still turn it into cash anywhere in the world.
For the average person, the average American, we’re used to wearing 10 and 14 karat gold jewelry. Now, what does this mean? This means that, 10 karat gold jewelry, what we’ve done is take the 24 kart gold and we’ve alloyed it. We’ve added other metals to it. We’ve added copper, we’ve added nickel, we’ve added silver, and depending on what alloy we’ve added, this will change the color of the jewelry.
If we’ve added silver to it, believe it or not, it’s going to get a green color. The more silver alloy you add, it’s going to get a bright yellowish, greenish tinge. Usually you will find a little bit of copper and more nickel alloyed with the gold, and this will change the color, by making it a little bit whiter.
What a lot of manufacturers have found is that a lot of people don’t like that 10 karat gold color, so what they’ll do is add a little bit more silver in it and make it look a little bit more like 14 karat.
Now, 10 karat gold is roughly 41% pure, and usually you’ll find a little tag on that piece of jewelry and it’ll say “417.” And this is basically 10 karat gold jewelry. Now, why would this be less money? Number one, 10 karat gold jewelry, if you add a chain in one hand, that looked pretty big, and you had a chain in the other hand that looked just as big, one is 14 karat, the other is 10 karat, the 10 karat one is going to weigh less. It’s not like it’s a pound of lead, and a pound of feathers.
In appearance, the 10 karat chain is going to look like a large size chain, but when we put it on a scale, it weighs less, number one. There’s less gold in it. You’re going to pay less per gram price.
Now, what can you expect to pay per gram, per chain? Usually a 10 karat gold chain, if it’s pre-loved or if it’s new, there’s going to be a difference in price. But, I’m going to tell you that on average, you’re going to pay $35-50 per gram for 10 karat gold chains. Now this includes the gold price and the fabricated price.
Now if you turned around and bought some pre-loved gold jewelry and stuff, you’re probably going to be down around $25-30 a gram for 10 karat gold chains.
Now 14 karat gold on the other hand is roughly 58% pure. So you can see that gold is the heavy constituent there. The alloy weighs less than the gold does. So when we’ve taken the pure gold and added roughly 42% alloy to it, you can see it’s gotten lighter. It’s gotten what we call “easier to manage” as far as making the jewelry. It’s become less valuable because it’s no longer the 24 karat gold, it’s 14 karat gold. Now this is average. What most Americans end up wearing is 14 karat gold. It’s just sort of the staple of our country, that’s the standard.
Now, am I saying that 10 karat gold is bad? No. 10 karat gold is not bad, what’s nice about 10 karat gold jewelry is the fact that everyone can own it. It’s made in different karats of gold so it costs less. Sometimes it’s got different gemstones added to it, sometimes the gemstones are more expensive, sometimes the gemstones are less expensive.
If it’s in a ring, how do you tell what karat gold it is? Look on the inside of that ring. You’ll see again, you may see a 10k, you might see 14k, you may see a 417, meaning it’s ten karat gold. You could see 585.
Now another thing that you’ll notice sometimes when you’re looking at a piece of jewelry, you may see that it says 14K with a P after it. 14KP. I’ve seen people say, “Ha ha! I’m not buying that. I’m not falling for that, Steve. That’s 14 karat gold plated!” Well, no it’s not. 14KP means this: it means that it’s fourteen karat gold and the manufacturer has turned around and had it tested to make sure that it’s five-eight-five, or fifty-eight and a half percent pure gold, which is fourteen karat gold. And that P stand for “plumb.” No it’s not made out of plum gold, it’s made out of gold that was tested, and if it was exactly what it’s supposed to be, we call that “plumb.” That’s the fineness of the gold.
So if it’s ten karat gold, it might say “10KP.” 417 fineness, 41.7% pure and plumb- the P indicates that it’s plumb gold, or exactly what it should be from the manufacturer.
So we’re going to throw that on the scale and you’re going to buy that. Now what should you pay for fourteen karat gold? If it’s new jewelry, you should be paying anywhere from fifty-five to eighty-five dollars a gram. And people will say, “Well, why is it such a difference? What’s eighty-five bucks a gram? What’s fifty-five dollars a gram? Depending on if you have to make a mortgage payment this week?” No, that doesn’t always enter into it. Sometimes it does! But it doesn’t always enter into it.
What enters into it is the fabrication price. If it’s a very intricate type of jewelry, if they’re handmade links and they’re put together by hand, then the labor charge is going to be much higher on that particular piece of jewelry. If it’s just a ring or just a standard bracelet that’s manufactured by machine, then it’s going to be a lower gram price. If it’s a handmade piece, if it’s a custom done piece, a very unusual piece, you’re going to pay a much higher price per gram.
Another factor that’s probably going to enter into it, whether you like it or not, even though you’re trying to save money – lots of times, if it’s a very, very light piece of jewelry. If it’s a two or three gram chain. Number one, the manufacturers are going to put a higher labor charge on that. Not necessarily because it costs more for labor, but if they sell a hundred of those two gram chains, it doesn’t add up to that much money in their pocket. But if they put a higher labor charge on it, those hundred chains are going to add up a little bit faster for them. So they find that the lighter the chain, generally you’re going to wind up paying a little bit higher gram price for it for the simple reason that it doesn’t have the weight to add up to a lot of money.
We’ve got all kinds of light little bracelets that you can buy for stocking stuffers. We don’t add more of a gram price for those because those are lighter. Simply because a lot of this stuff I bought at lower gold prices. I can pass this savings on to you.
And our gold inventory is large. Very, very large. So if you’re looking for something unusual – you said to yourself, “I went to the mall and they had all of fifteen chains in their showcase. And they were very proud of their chains. They were pretty. They were shiny. But I want something nice. My husband’s a big guy. We’ve got money. We’re not broke. And I want to buy him something nice for Christmas. He’s always wanted a nice heavy bracelet or a nice heavy chain.” Stop by and see us over at Westchester Gold. The heavier that chain is, the less money you will pay per gram. With the higher gold price, we’ve tried to drop our prices as best we can to pass our savings on to you.
Now a lot of the jewelry you’ll see – and we just came back from a trip to Italy. There you’ll find very little fourteen or ten karat gold. In Italy, most of their gold is going to be eighteen karat gold or twenty-two karat gold. More of the European countries again, they understand that they like to put a lot of their wealth into gold. For the simple reason, again, if they had to leave, this is a form of wealth. A lot of times different dowries are given to the women as they’re married. They pay us down jewelry that’s been handed down in the family.
So we look at eighteen-karat gold. Now what’s the big difference between eighteen-karat gold? Eighteen-karat gold is roughly seventy-five percent pure. So again, there’s less alloy. There’s more gold content. Therefore, that piece of jewelry is much denser and much heavier and there’s more gold in it. Duh. That’s going to add up to more money out of your pocket for that particular piece of jewelry. It has to! For the simple reason that the manufacturer has got seventy-five percent gold, only twenty-five percent alloy. So there’s more gold content to the piece of jewelry. It’s going to be heavier. So it’s going to cost you more money. Yes sir? For those of you that couldn’t see, Ken was raising his hand.
(Laughs) White gold/regular gold. Difference?
One is white, one is not.
Thank you for that question. In order to get white gold, we find that it’s alloyed with just about all nickel. Actually the white gold is going to be valued at just about the same price.
Because it’s still gold.
Yeah. Gold is gold. But it’s a little tougher to work with, with the nickel content. A lot of times I’ll find that I’m buying a chain that might cost me fifty dollars a gram in yellow gold and maybe fifty-one or fifty-two dollars a gram in white gold. Now it used to cost me a lot more because white gold wasn’t as popular, but now a lot of your manufacturers have a big inventory of the white gold, so they’re not really tacking on that much of a surcharge on that.
Now the other problem is that sometimes when people wear gold jewelry, they’ll get what we call “gold smudge.” What this means is, you may look down on your finger and there’s a black ring around your finger where the gold used to be, where your gold ring was. Or on your neck, or on your wrist. And what this is, it’s acid in a person’s system. It actually affects the alloys in that gold.
A lot of people are allergic to nickel. So if they’re wearing white gold, or they’re trying to wear white gold. You know, they had yellow gold, didn’t have any problem. Now they put white gold on, all of a sudden, they’ve got blisters on their neck, where their skin is reacting to the nickel. Or all of a sudden they’ll get a gold smudge on their neck where their skin is reacting to the acid and their skin is reacting to the nickel. So if you’ve changed the colors of jewelry that you’re wearing and all of a sudden you’re getting this black all over your body and you’re going, “What the heck is this all about?” That’s called gold smudge.
The only thing you can really do on something like that, a lot of times I’ll tell people, if you dip that particular piece of jewelry in clear nail polish. Like a ring or something like that, or the inside of a bracelet. Clear nail polish on it will put up kind of a protective layer for a while. But it will wear off and you’ll get your gold smudge back.
A lot of people haven’t changed the color of their gold and they’re wearing it and all of a sudden they’ve got gold smudge now. They’re going, “Man, maybe this was not real gold and the plating finally wore off and now it’s turning my neck black.” If you retrace your steps a little bit, you may find that you’re on some kind of a new medication that you weren’t taking before. You may have all of a sudden had an Italian dinner where you ingested a lot of marinara sauce – tomato sauce and stuff. That’s high in acid content. It’s going to change the acidity of your body. The medication can surely change the acidity of your body. And all of a sudden you’ve got this gold smudge. The jewelry hasn’t changed quality. What’s happened – you’ve changed the acidity of your body and this is what’s affecting the alloys in the gold. So don’t get crazy about that.
If you’re not sure, bring it in. We’re always happy to test your gold for you. You may have bought stuff that was plated and now, all of a sudden, the plating wore off of it, and you find the brass underneath it. We’re always happy to test your stuff and tell you what you have.
Now the eighteen karat gold jewelry we equate – and this is just human nature – we equate quality with weight. So you’ll find that most of your designers will make their jewelry in eighteen karat gold. The reason being, when you pick up that piece of jewelry, it’s got a nice heft to it. It feels heavy. The designers – most of it is handmade stuff. Some of it is manufactured in quantity. With a designer name on it. But even though they didn’t turn around and have to do each piece by hand, they want that designer name to feel special. So they made it out of eighteen karat gold jewelry. They charge more if the designer put his name on that piece of jewelry. Even if he didn’t sign it himself and it was just in the manufacturing of it, you’re going to pay more for a designer piece of jewelry. Fact of life. That’s just the way it is. The designers make their living doing this and they’re going to pass that on to you and if you want to own their piece of jewelry then you’re going to have to pay for it.
But most of the designers will use eighteen karat gold because it’s got a nice heft to it. It’s heavy. It feels expensive. And this is just something that we’ve put through our mind, that if it feels heavy, it’s going to be expensive and it might be a designer piece. That’s a fact of life and that’s true.
What the manufacturers have come out with now, and I’m seeing it in a lot of the ads, fourteen karat gold and sterling earrings, bracelets, necklaces. What they’re doing, they’re taking fourteen karat gold – which is basically fifty-eight percent pure – and part of the jewelry has got a panel of fourteen karat gold. The rest of it is white, which looks like white gold, but is actually sterling silver. I had somebody come in the other day and try to sell me a piece of sterling and fourteen karat gold jewelry. They took it to one of the other shops, and the other shop didn’t know what they were looking at. They turned around and offered them a ridiculous amount of money for it, for their scrap value, because they believed the stuff was fourteen karat gold. We looked at it and I said, “What were you offered for this?” They told me and I said, “Turn around. I don’t even need to do a thing. Turn around, run out the door and sell that stuff immediately, because what you’ve got is maybe twenty percent gold and eighty percent silver.”
So it’s like I said, a lot of these gold buying places, they may have been selling shoes yesterday, now they open up a gold buying store today. You know, we try not to make those mistakes after thirty-seven years.
I’m Steve Duke, the owner of Westchester Gold and Diamonds. I’m telling you a little bit about gold jewelry, the gold content, what you’re going to see out there while you’re shopping this year. And if you’re looking for something special in gold, please stop by and see us. I can guarantee you will not be disappointed with our selection – bigger than anybody else’s around. That I can guarantee you.
We’ve got all kinds of men’s bracelets, women’s bracelets, chains, charms, Omega necklaces, which are really hot again this year. We have slides that go on different kinds of pendants. I’m going to say please stop by and see us. Be careful out there. And with that, I’m going to say goodbye to everybody until next week!
Stop by and see us. We are in the Baer Plaza behind ABC Liquors. Westchester Gold and Diamonds is located at 4200F Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, FL 33952.
Call (941) 625-0666.
Westchester Gold and Diamonds provides services including custom jewelry design, repairs, appraisals and other jewelry and antiques related services. Westchester Gold and Diamonds is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday and by appointment at your home or bank.
Listen to Tradio right here at http://www.westchestergold.com and read excerpts and highlights from past Tradio programs.
Have Questions about your antiques, estate jewelry, collectibles or old treasures?
If you have questions for Steve Duke to answer about your jewelry, antiques or collectibles, just send a photo of the item and your question directly to Steve Duke at WGDiamonds@HotMail.com and Steve will research it for you and you may be contacted to participate in an upcoming Tradio episode. Be sure to include your name, email and phone number along with your question and email it to: WGDiamonds@HotMail.com