Gold-Buying Girl Party finds many ready to celebrate (Video)

ALLISON MILES

July 28, 2012 at 2:28 a.m.
Updated July 29, 2012 at 2:29 a.m.

Elizabeth Pozzi files into a gold watch to make sure that the watch is real gold and not just gold plated Thursday during a Gold Buying Girl party. Pozzi does several tests to verify the authenticity of the karat amount of the gold.

Elizabeth Pozzi files into a gold watch to make sure that the watch is real gold and not just gold plated Thursday during a Gold Buying Girl party. Pozzi does several tests to verify the authenticity of the karat amount of the gold.   Angeli Wright for The Victoria Advocate

Some gold chains, a bracelet or two and other jewelry box cast-offs sat on the table in front of Jennifer Brown.

As she watched, gold buyer Elizabeth Pozzi tested each piece, weighed them and did some careful calculations before offering up a check for the haul.

A $936 check.

"Wow, my heart is beating," Brown said as others around her cheered. "This was just old stuff. I didn't think I'd get anything like that."

Brown was among a handful of guests at a Gold Buying Girl party where, rather than purchasing items, guests offered old jewelry for sale.

Such parties might not be the traditional way to sell back gold, but Brown isn't alone in her money-making endeavor. Buyers say the practice is more popular than ever.

Steven Solis manages Cash America Pawn at 5508 N. Navarro St., where he said his work with gold earned him the nickname "The Leprechaun of Victoria."

He said he's seen increased interest, something he attributed to both going rates and heightened media attention.

"The price of gold skyrocketed about two years ago but, for a while, it was pretty hush-hush," he said. "Nobody knew about it. But they began seeing TV commercials and ads about selling gold through the mail."

At that point, he said, the things exploded.

Business increased 100 percent, said Solis, who has been with his company for five years, but in Victoria about a year and-a-half. Also, he said, the practice extended to places like payday loan companies.

Kitco Metals Inc., on its website, said gold averaged $1,644.60 per ounce so far this year. That's up from 2011's $1,571.52 and a major increase going five years back, when $871.96 was the average.

Mark Pflaum owns Victoria's Numistrama Coin Shop, 805 E. Rio Grande St. He said gold prices weren't at an all-time high, but that they were strong and would likely remain that way as long as values stayed above $1,000.

Although his store does buy gold, coins and paper money are its primary business.

Sonya Williams is co-owner of Discount Jewelry & Loan, 6801 A. North Navarro St. She joined the family business 28 years ago and said, while many people do pawn it, gold makes up about 75 percent of the Victoria shop's business.

The company's Port Lavaca location deals more in tools and firearms, she explained.

Williams agreed that business was on the increase, and said she felt it had to do with prices. A person can get four times the amount for their gold today than they might have gotten years back.

Like Solis, she said she felt the media had its effects on the industry.

Shows like "Pawn Stars" and "Hardcore Pawn" educate consumers on how the process works, she said, and improved the way the public perceives such shops.

Even with gold doing so well, Williams said she encouraged customers to do whatever was best for them.

For those having trouble parting with jewelry, she said she suggested pawning it and picking it up later. Even for those selling, she said she sometimes encouraged them to wait if prices were expected to rise.

"Help your customer," she advised. "We're all here to make a living, but you have to help the people that make you a living."

Amy Robinette, who owns the Houston-based Gold Buying Girl, urged those looking to sell their gold to make sure they went with someone reputable.

Shops should be registered and inspected by the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, she said, and be licensed in the state of Texas. Those licenses should be on display but, if not, a consumer should ask to see them.

"There's companies out there that will try to take advantage of you," she said. "Do research and make sure you're dealing with companies complying with the law."

As for Brown, said she was happy with her jewelry box haul. That nearly $1,000 check could go a long way, she said, explaining it might help fund a Disney World vacation, or at least a shopping splurge.

Whatever the case, it might not hurt to play it close to the vest.

"I might have to fudge on the amount to my hubby a bit," she said with a wink.


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