KRBC's Gina Benitez traveled to four different businesses around town to see how they determined the price of your gold and how much money they're willing to offer.
She began at Wild Bill's Pawn. Alex Hermosillo says all employees are trained to first look at the piece and determine what karat it is. But even that isn't a surefire way to tell, because much hand-crafted jewelry has no karat mark, just like of the rings she brought in.
"It's not silver because there's no type of tarnish on it at all. No type of patina," noted Hermosillo while examining a piece.
So, he turns to the scratch test which takes off some residue. He pours 10 karat acid on the block and shows Gina that the acid ate away most of the markings. That leads him to believe that the ring may not even be gold. So, he brings out a diamond tester. He says jewelers usually don't put real diamonds in plated or fake gold. He decides the ring is ten karat gold.
Gina has another ring and necklace that, by using the same techniques, he appraises to be 14 karat gold. After determining the caliber, he weighs the gold, then multiplies the weight in grams of her jewelry by the current price of gold. The offer is $499.
Gina's next stop is Big Country Gold.
Many of the same techniques were used, except here, the price of gold is up on a website called Kitco. The buyer here tells Gina it changes frequently, so it's important for the seller to know the most current price. Big Country Gold also uses a machine that presses jewelry with a direct electronic gold tester, a non-destructive and precise way to determine the karat.
In the end, Gina is offered $540 and told her ring is 14 karat gold.
Her next stop : Abilene Gold Exchange.
Just like Big Country Gold, her pendant is tested separately. Both Abilene Gold Exchange and Big Country Gold were able to determine that the pendant was, in fact, 18 karat gold. With the same weighing and multiplying techniques and giving her 90 percent of what the gold is worth -- all others also took a 10 percent profit -- Abilene Gold Exchange offers her $591, the highest offer yet.
Gina ended her journey at West Texas Coins and Bullion on Buffalo Gap Road. The owner tells Gina her ring is ten karat gold but he does determined the pendant is 18 karats. Total offer? $469 dollars.
Bottom line: the testing methods, whether they're acidic, electronic, or what meets the eye, aren't perfect and neither are the humans using them. Every offer Gina got was in the same ballpark. So, it's probably best to shop around.