Why You Should Avoid Pawnshops When Selling Your Jewelry

Avoid Pawn Shops When Selling Jewelry
Worthy Staff

By Worthy Staff | Aug 5th, 2021

We know COID-19 is affecting everything, especially economics and personal finances. Selling items through pawnshops can be an easy way to make quick cash, but as we point out below, pawnshops make the most money by giving you the least for your valuable. If you are considering selling diamond jewelry in these trying times, consider all your options and which one stands to help you get the best deal.
-The Worthy Staff

The concept of the pawnshop has been around for centuries. More than 3,000 years ago, prominent Chinese, Greek, and Roman businessmen discovered that they could profit by lending money to peasants who needed short-term loans. Throughout history, famous figures such as England’s King Edward III and Spain’s Queen Isabella pawned jewelry to finance war and exploration.

During America’s Great Depression, pawnshops served as a method for transforming objects into much-needed money. Today, people continue to turn to pawnshops for quick cash.

The reason for the long-standing popularity of pawnshops is easy to understand- it’s a simple way to gain quick access to cash. For shop owners, the business model is successful because they are able to buy valuable items at deeply reduced rates and make a decent profit even when sale prices are below retail. Pawning your jewelry might feel like the only choice you have when finances are tight. However, it’s important to understand that the same business model that makes pawnshops successful means that you are likely to lose money if you choose to sell your valuables this way.

How Pawnshops Work

Pawnshops are regulated by federal, state, and local laws designed to protect shop owners and customers alike. While every business is different, most of these shops are clean, organized, and easy to deal with; in fact, they can be a treasure trove for shoppers who want to purchase items such as antiques, musical instruments, and electronics at good prices.

The pawnshop business model is based on short-term, collateral-based loans that are secured by valuable objects. In most cases, the loan is just a fraction of the item’s actual value, and the interest rate is quite a bit higher than a bank interest rate on a personal loan. The deadline for repayment varies; on average, it is between one and four months. People who cannot afford to repay their loans don’t suffer any negative consequences, other than losing their items. About 80 percent of loans are repaid, and property owners are able to recover their collateral.

Many pawnshops also offer the alternative of selling items outright. Shop owners make less money with this option, and are able to pay just pennies on the dollar. Depending on the item’s value, the shop’s overhead costs, and the state of the local resale market, people who sell their jewelry to a pawnshop are likely to receive thirty to sixty percent of the item’s estimated value. Still, in a worst-case-scenario in which immediate payment is a must, this might be enough to stave off a financial disaster.

Online pawnshops are available as well. Like their brick and mortar cousins, these shops buy and sell jewelry and other items at cut rates. Because items must be shipped to the pawnshop, it takes longer for sellers and loan recipients to receive payment.

Selling Jewelry at Pawnshops: What to Watch Out For

Keep in mind that pawnshop regulations vary from one state to the next, and not all pawnshops are alike. If you have no option other than selling your valuables at a pawnshop, choose the venue carefully.

Why do people accept such big losses, knowing that other methods of selling valuables are likely to offer far better returns? In short, it’s because pawnshops offer instant cash. While this model has helped many individuals work their way out of financial tight spots, it’s not ideal for those who can afford to wait a few days for a far better return.

Alternatives to Pawnshops

It makes sense to sell jewelry you no longer want or need. If you have an unwanted engagement ring, a diamond bracelet that’s no longer in style, or a necklace that just isn’t you, there are more profitable alternatives to pawnshops.

Consignment stores and jewelry shops are sometimes good alternatives, however, the sales process typically takes time, and the selling price is likely to be disappointing since these businesses have high overhead costs.

Selling locally is another option. Some people have good luck with venues such as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, but most discover that buyers are looking for rock-bottom prices. Some potential purchasers are no-shows, some try to get sellers to drop prices even further, and some are looking for targets to rob outright. Be very careful if you opt to sell jewelry in person. Follow best practices when meeting potential customers:

When deciding how to sell old jewelry, consider the amount of time you’ll need to invest in the process. Will you have to photograph your item and write a description to draw attention to it? Will you need to have it appraised? Will you need to spend time researching pawnshops and other venues, or take the time to drive to and from jewelry shops and other stores that might consign the item for you? Your time is very valuable. By minimizing the amount of time you invest in the process of selling your jewelry, you maximize your return.

While the pawnshop model has helped many individuals work their way out of financial tight spots, it’s not ideal for those who can afford to wait a few days for a far better return.

You might also opt to sell your jewelry online at a venue such as an online auction. This option is attractive, as it exposes your jewelry to a wide audience, and as online venues tend to provide safe, secure transactions with no need to meet strangers face-to-face. Worthy is an online auction marketplace that helps clients sell their jewelry for more, in a safe and transparent way. Worthy clients benefit from:

With Worthy, you approve the final bid rather than settling for a lower bid or even a mere percentage of the selling price. While there’s no instant cash in hand, the process takes only a few days to complete, and your money is securely transferred to your account as soon as you consent to the selling price.

Worthy Staff

Worthy Staff

The Worthy Blog is a place for inspiration, insight, and advice for all things surrounding life's greatest transitions - divorce, losing a loved one, retirement, and so much more. You can find us on our blog, Instagram, and Facebook.


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