A woman with a fistful of broken necklaces tangled with Barbie doll hair from garage sales left Ryan Borzin's shop $1,400 richer.
Borzin owns on Castro Valley Boulevard near and says now is the time if you were thinking about cashing in on gold jewelry you own but don't cherish.
"Since I became a jeweler, in 2004, the price of gold has gone from 300 bucks an ounce to more than $1,711," Borzin said.
Gold traded at an all-time high of $1,727 a troy ounce on Monday. Investment companies that make money in futures markets say the price isn't about to fall anytime soon.
Goldman Sachs last week estimated the price of gold would rise in three months to $1,730 per troy ounce and in six months to $1,860; JP Morgan estimated $2,500 by year's end.
A troy ounce is the weight standard used by precious metals dealers. If you put 1 troy ounce of gold on a grocery store scale, it would register about 1.1 non-troy ounces.
"People think the market is going to crash," said Borzin. "But that's not going to happen. This is what gold is going to be from now on."
He attributes gold's buoyancy to economic changes that have taken place since the recession began. Massive layoffs and the general accumulation of chaos, he said, will keep the economy down for another three years.
"It doesn’t matter anymore, anyway, because we're so far gone that gold will keep going up and up."
Borzin, 26, graduated from the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco in 2004, apprenticed with a jeweler in Pleasant Hill for two years and, after breaking his arm, worked at a pawn shop for a year before getting back into jewelry and opening his own store in October 2009.
If you're eyeing family heirlooms and mystery junk and wondering how much dealers like Borzin might give you for them, keep in mind that what the original buyer paid isn't what you'll get. Precious metals dealers view jewelry as scrap, no matter its beauty.
What was once a $3,000 piece of art might fetch as little as $50 as scrap metal. Click here to see a YouTube video of jewelry being melted into a gold bar.
"When you go to sell it, some people are shocked at how little it is," Borzin said. He remembers one customer saying he paid $1,700 for a gold chain and getting $50 for it as scrap metal.
"Make sure that you ask what they're paying you per gram," Borzin recommends to those who want to sell. "When you know what your stuff is worth per gram, there's no way people can cheat you."
Borzin pays $24 a gram. Two years ago, it was $10 a gram, he said.
A gram of gold would be smaller than the surface of your pinky's fingernail, Borzin estimates. An ounce would be about the size of a half-dollar but twice as thick, he said.
An inherited ring that weighs 4 or 5 grams might fetch $95, he estimated.
"If it's nice enough, I refurbish it and find a buyer, if I can. Otherwise, 95 percent of the time, it's getting melted," Borzin said.
He's required by law to ask for ID and hold the gold he buys from a customer for 30 days.
At his own shop, Borzin repairs jewelry and does repairs for jewelry stores. "But I do more in buys than in sales and repairs," he said.
Borzin graduated from Castro Valley High School in 2003 but was "terrified of college," he said, because he has dyslexia.
He looked for a hands-on trade and discovered the Revere Academy, but he really got his start at age 8 in a stone-cutting program offered by the Hayward Gem and Mineral Society, which meets monthly at Mt. Eden Presbyterian Church in Hayward. "I went there on Saturdays as a hobby and learned to stone-cut," he said.
Now running his own business, Borzin said an average work day lasts from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., but there's no recession from where he sits.
"I’m totally fine because everybody’s selling their gold," he said. "I have a lot of return business."
To see more about the fluctuation of gold prices, click here.
For more tips on selling gold, click here.