St. Petersburg, FL -- You've seen the ads on television and on billboards around town, so 10 News decided to put some of the Bay area's gold buyers to the test. Who really does pay the most for your gold and how can you make sure you're getting top dollar?
10 News visited seven stores all on the same day.
We brought in the same items (a bracelet, necklace, two pairs of earrings and four rings) to each store and asked what they would give us for our gold.
Our lowest initial offer came at Clearwater's Gold and Diamond Source. They started by offering our undercover producer $923 before upping it to $985.
Value Pawn on South Dale Mabry was next, offering us $960.
But, interestingly, a few blocks away on Gandy Blvd., another Value Pawn offered us $25 more for the same items.
Arthur Yates and Sons, located in South Tampa, said they'd pay $991 for our items and was the first store to let us keep the diamonds from our two rings that had jewels.
Next highest was SellGoldForMore.com in Clearwater. Located off Ulmerton, SellGoldForMore.com was the first to offer us more than a grand, coming in at $1,117 while also letting us keep the diamonds. That was almost $200 more than if we'd accepted the first offer made by the Gold and Diamond Source.
But, as we continued shopping, our offers kept climbing.
In Largo, our undercover producer was offered $1,153.10 at Arnold Jewelers, while across the street came our top offer. At Southern Pawn, we were told they'd pay us up to $1,430.
That's $507 more for the same items than if we'd accepted our lowest offer.
Prior to our test, we set up interviews with the Gold and Diamond Source and Arthur Yates and Sons. Neither store was aware that we would be conducting a test prior to the interviews. So when we arrived for the on camera interviews, we told them about our test and asked them to once again examine our items and give us their absolute best offer.
With our cameras rolling, Arthur Yates and Sons offered us $1,100 while the Gold and Diamond Source said they would now pay us $1,190.
What our unscientific test revealed is the importance of shopping around.
"Again, stress the importance of getting more than one offer. That's a very, very simple thing to do," David Yates of Arthur Yates and Sons told 10 News.
As we discovered, a savvy consumer will also not accept the first price while not ruling out pawn shops as an option.
The price of gold can change on a daily basis, so experts say for a true comparison it's also important to visit the stores on the same day.
If you are unsure that something you have is gold, Ray Potesta with the Gold and Diamond Source suggests taking a strong magnet and running it over the item in question. "If the jewelry is not attracted to (the magnet) and it doesn't pull it, there's a good chance it's sold gold jewelry," he said.
Knowing if you have 10-, 14-, 18- or 24-karat gold is also a good idea as that can greatly alter the price you're offered. While 14-karat is what most jewelry is made out of, 24-karat will net you the most money.
Experts suggest you should also have any potential buyer tell you the exact penny weight of your items and ask to watch the scale when your items are weighed.
Another tip - remember that precious stones usually don't make a difference so don't be afraid to ask for them back.
Finally, Yates says sentimental value and craftsmanship do not affect the price you'll be offered. "Unfortunately, there's nothing for workmanship, nothing for designing style, manufacturing, all of those things that do have a cost, but what we're doing is strictly recycling."
Follow these tips and chances are you'll get a better deal which will mean more money in your pocket.