3 Tips for Buying Jewelry at a Pawn Shop
Buying jewelry at a pawn shop can be a scavenger hunt. Just like shopping at any secondhand or thrift-type store, the inventory is ever-changing and you never know what you might find.
That's the double-edged sword of jewelry shopping at estate sales, pawn shops, and the like.
If you have a Pinterest board full of dream rings and a style already in mind, rummaging through secondhand stores with limited inventory isn't your best bet.
But if you enjoy the thrill of a treasure hunt, really want something unique, or love the idea of recycling a piece of vintage jewelry, buying jewelry at a pawn shop could be super fun for you.
Before you set foot in the pawn shop, read these three tips:
Research, research, research. Google the pawn shops you're considering. Read all the reviews you can find. Ask your friends and family. Give special preference to pawn shops that specialize in jewelry. Do enough research that you feel confident walking into the shop, not wondering if they're going to pull one over on you.
Also, learn as much as you can about jewelry. Start your shopping armed with jewelry knowledge so you already know what a quality diamond looks like, what the market price for gold currently is, and how heavy true 14K gold should feel in your hand. (Or bring along a knowledgeable friend!)
2. Think Outside the Box
Maybe you're looking for a ring. That doesn't mean you shouldn't consider necklaces. You could find the perfect stone set inside an old pendant, take it to your jeweler and have it re-set into your dream ring.
With jewelry, be less concerned with the aesthetic and more with the quality. Something may appear outdated and not your taste, but if it's made of high-quality materials at a steal of a price, you may be able to afford to have your jeweler re-create it.
3. Ask for Credentials
How do you know if a jewelry piece is of good quality? Ask for certifications or appraisals. Hopefully, they have documentation to prove the make-up of the jewelry and quality of any stones. If not, plan to take it to an appraiser yourself.
While you may not be able to take it to an independent appraiser prior to purchasing, if you get a description of the jewelry in writing from the pawn shop, you should (hopefully) have no issue returning it if the appraisal doesn't match up.
If you go in prepared and confident, buying jewelry at a pawn shop can be a lot of fun, and very successful. If you find something great, we'd love to hear about it in the comments. (And, remember, secondhand jewelry needs insurance, too!)
Editor's Note: This post was originally published September 30, 2011 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.