Gold and silver prices are at historic highs, which has attracted attention from consumers looking to make a buck.
And with the busiest shopping season of the year under way, many people want to turn old jewelry into extra cash.
From mail offers to gold parties to traveling shows to brick-and-mortar businesses, a seller has options when it comes to trading valuable items for money.
But as precious metal prices have soared, so have scams.
Some companies offer to pay for gold jewelry mailed to them, which provides the seller little recourse if he or she is unhappy with the price offered or if their items are "lost" in transit.
Gold parties are also becoming a popular way to bring in cash, for a business and the party host. While the parties can be legitimate, experts say sellers get less for their valuables because a percentage goes to both the company and the host.
Over the holidays, temporary kiosks are also set up in malls to cash in on the gold and silver rush.
Bill Dyer, who opened CSA Coin & Jewelry in 1997, said he has watched the number of traders proliferate over the years as precious metal prices have increased.
"Now there are people everywhere in this business," he said. "Because the price of gold and silver has gone up so quick, it's become a get-rich-quick scheme." He and other local traders are encouraging customers to steer clear of a controversial traveling show currently set up at the Ramada Inn in Queensbury.
Ohio Valley Gold & Silver Refinery is in town through Saturday to buy collectibles, antiques, gold and silver. This is the second time the company has visited the area; it came to Glens Falls in June under the name Treasure Hunters Roadshow.
In addition to online complaints alleging scams, the parent company is being sued by the creators of the popular PBS program "Antiques Roadshow," for infringing on the show's name and logo. The lawsuit, filed in February, also claims Treasure Hunters has acquired a reputation for buying valuables for pennies on the dollar.
Derik Overholser, show manager at the Queensbury event, said the name "Roadshow" isn't proprietary, and his company doesn't appraise items for insurance purposes like the PBS show.
Overholser argues Treasure Hunters and Ohio Valley can offer higher prices for scrap gold because the company operates its own refinery. He also noted the company has 60 shows across the county in any given week, which lowers its overhead.
But local traders say the traveling shows are risky and not likely to yield the best prices.
Roger Brown, co-owner of R&T Antiques in Queensbury, said customers do better when they visit bricks-and-mortar stores run by people with a stake in the community.
He said the out-of-state event has presented misleading advertisements to the public and is undervaluing items.
Asked about the negative characterizations of his company, Overholser said, "The perception is that we are a fly-by-night company in town doing this, and a lot of the local businesses are upset. Nobody is obligated to sell something. The evaluation is absolutely free."
He said customers are welcome to get second opinions, and he invited local dealers to come in and check out the operation.
On Wednesday morning, customers trickled into the hotel with coins, jewelry and collectibles.
Bob Marcotte, of Corinth, brought in a Gibson John Lennon J160E from 1969 in its original case. A longtime guitar collector and trader, he said he has encountered scam artists before and always researches the value of the item before selling. Marcotte was hoping to get about $3,000 for his guitar.
He was still waiting on a price when his wife, Ruby, was quoted about $400 for a pile of silver and gold jewelry.
"Because I haven't done this before, I'll get a second estimate," she said.
Later on Wednesday, Marcotte told The Post-Star he turned down Ohio Valley's $1,500 offer on the guitar and a $250 offer on a vintage banjo he valued at upward of $2,000.
"I've been doing this for 20 years," he said. "Obviously these people are not even close."
As for his wife's jewelry, the couple received a similar quote from a local store and were paid in cash; Ohio Valley had offered to write them a check.
Local gold traders say the best way to ensure an accurate price for valuables is to get multiple opinions. Sellers are also encouraged to have an idea of what their item is worth before they get an estimate.
Putting a price on antiques can involve research onlineusing sites like eBay. With precious metals, the market price is listed daily on sites like kitco.com.
Dealers say pure gold nets the consumer up to 95 percent of the value, whereas mixed jewelry realizes less money because refining expenses have to be factored in. The value of antiques can vary, according to Brown, because buyers might not be immediately available, while gold can always be sold.
Brown said customers should be cautious when all their jewelry is thrown on the scale together without accounting for different carats.
Dyer recommended customers deal with a bonded company and also endorsed local buyers over out-of-state businesses because dealing locally makes it easier to follow up on concerns.
He noted that Warren County has reporting requirements for the sale of coins and jewelry that local stores must follow.
Dyer warned of anyone who talks down valuables, then offers to buy them.
"If they start knocking your stuff and then offer to buy it, that's a red flag," Dyer said.