Dreamworker was the owner of a small jewelry business for several years.
If you want to make some really good money working only a few hours per week, you can do so easily if you know what to buy at yard sales, how much to pay for it and where to sell it for profit.
There is a bit of a learning curve to it, but if you learn what you need to know, you can start earning almost immediately.
There are many items you can do this with, but the one my husband and I have found to be most productive and easiest is to become a precious metals buyer.
Gold and silver are the most costly and least understood jewelry items on the market. Most people who own them have no idea of their value because much of what they own has been given to them as gifts. The items may be broken or tarnished and dirty.
Since people don’t know how to care for these items, they assume that they have lost their value.
That one belief is the reason that you can earn big time if you know what you are doing!
Knowing the Markets Is Key
In truth, these items never lose all of their value. Much depends on the markets rather than the items. If the markets go down, then, of course, the value goes down and vice versa.
It is a clever buyer who makes sure he knows the daily values before he buys. If he does, he can never lose money.
This may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t.
The jewelry business is one of the best-kept secrets in the country, but if you become involved in it, you can use a little bit of knowledge to make some excellent side money.
How to Get Started
The best way to get started in this business is to find a jewelry dealer who has a good reputation, pays well and is willing to give you some training if you will do business with him.
If you ask around, you’ll quickly get some names. Check out their businesses and talk to their customers. It won’t take long to find a few you will want to work with but start small.
Our first buyer was a fellow we met on eBay who lived in another state. He seemed nice enough, but after we did some research, we found a better one. He was five minutes from our house instead of in another state, had an international reputation, and made it clear that he wanted to help us.
When dealing with gold and silver, it’s always a good idea to keep it in your own hands until your sale is finalized. These products have a way of “losing value” when shipped because you, the seller, loses control of them, and they lose their identity.
There is a great deal of fraud and theft in this business, so we learned early on to sell close to home.
What Our Dealer Taught Us
- Gave us charts that showed the percentages he would pay for precious metals depending on the market
- Taught us how to test and weigh the jewelry and told us the best type of scale to use and
- How to use a jeweler’s eyepiece, what type to buy and what markings to look for
Most importantly, he taught us the value of dealing with an honest buyer who would be there to answer questions and show techniques that were needed.
You can find much jewelry tool information these days on YouTube, but if you can find a vendor who will tutor you, you’ll do better.
Buying Techniques That Work
Making a buy of this type is a very delicate business because your client must feel that you are not a fly by night (and there are many of them). In short, you need to be credible.
Therefore, you must drive a clean, decent-looking car, be nicely dressed, be personable and have professional-looking equipment.
You should always calmly approach your buyer, tell them a bit about yourself while emphasizing that you live locally and then ask if they have any broken jewelry they’d like to sell. Make sure that they understand that you are licensed and that you will be paying immediate cash.
This is very important to some people. In one instance, it allowed us to make a big buy that saved a woman’s home that was about to go into foreclosure. She needed immediate and instant money, and we had it for her.
You never know when you’ll run into a situation like this, so it always pays to keep a good deal of money available. I usually carried at least $2,000 on every buying trip.
Tools of the Trade
Ours was a part-time business, so there was no storefront. Our only advertising was business cards which we made ourselves on our computer.
We carried a portable digital jeweler's scale that weighed jewelry by gram, ounce, pennyweight and pieces and was big enough to hold a good amount of product for testing. It could also be calibrated, which is important.
We used an acid testing jewelry kit and super strong magnets to determine whether items were real or not and, of course, a jeweler’s loup to help us read the markings on the jewelry. We used this inexpensive test kit for years and found it to be extremely reliable. If you purchase it, take care because the bottles do hold acid, and it can burn you if you are not careful.
Our buyer taught us about all of this, and yours will, too, if you build a good relationship with him. It benefits him to do this because you are making money for him!
We carried these items in our car and took them with us into a home when making a buy or sometimes made the buy right in the back of the car.
We always checked the Monet gold prices and our vendor charts in the morning to make sure we were paying correct amounts. Prices change rapidly, but doing this kept us within a proper financial buying range.
Once money and product exchanged hands, we would use a small tablet to jot down the client’s name, address and phone number, what we had purchased and how much we had paid. This is a legal requirement and also let the seller know that you will be paying taxes on your purchase. It makes you more credible to them, too.
Tip: People don’t always know what they have, so never take a seller’s word for it. He may think he has nothing but may have 14K gold. Conversely, he may think he has real gold but may have gold plate. Testing is the only way to know for sure.
At the end of each selling day, we took the jewelry home, cleaned and sanitized it, and decided which pieces to keep for selling or trading and which to sell to our buyer. We’d then visit the buyer’s store, where he would test and examine the items and pay us.
To do business with him, we had to have a tax ID, which he kept a record of and reported to the IRS. (Yes, we paid taxes on our profits each year!)
Eventually, we wound up with a small inventory of nice items which we could either sell outright or trade for people’s jewelry. This was a secondary business that also brought in a small profit for us. Clients loved being able to trade their junk jewelry for beautiful, clean and wearable items.
What Made This Plan Work
What few realize is that the “junk” wasn’t really junk at all. It may have been dirty or tarnished, but it was very easy to clean and sanitize so that it was usable again. If it was broken, it went to our buyer. If not, we added it to our inventory.
We quickly learned that to sell, we had to present the jewelry well. Thus we bought cotton-lined gold boxes with lids, put the pieces in them and put all of them in velvet-lined trays which we carried in special cases made just for that purpose. We bought these items from local jewelry suppliers, and they made the items look fantastic.
In truth, the only way we could lose money was to make a buying mistake and purchase something that was not real. This can happen, and it did a few times, because there are some very good fakes out there. The trick is to be very careful when buying and analyze the person who is selling to you.
You Can Make Money, Too
As stated earlier, there is a learning curve to making money this way, but if you do it right, you can do well.
We were in this business for six years, working only four hours a week, six months a year and grossed more than $100,000. Our only investment was less than $100 for equipment.
Eventually, you get an eye for telling whether something is gold or not because it has a specific color to it, so it becomes easier to find.
Even the smallest piece has value, so always take your time.
Do some research, learn the terms, find a good buyer, keep it honest and you, too, will be able to make money finding gold at yard sales.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on December 03, 2019:
Definitely authentic. Most of my writing is. I'm old and have seen and done a lot of things...I write about many of them here!!
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 03, 2019:
Informative and interesting. This is not an everyday topic, so thank you for sharing from your own experience, making your information authentic.