How to sell gold

Make sure you’re getting the right price for your gold

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Gold is a hot commodity right now, which might have you thinking about selling. With recession fears in the U.S., global economies grappling with inflation and gold hitting all-time-high prices, offloading some of your precious metals can help you capture some investment gains.

But while buying gold is fairly easy, selling gold can be a bit more complicated. Before you sell, it’s important to understand the value of your gold, what types of gold you can sell, how to find a reputable dealer and the tax implications of selling your gold.

Key insights

  • Selling physical gold requires research and finding a reputable dealer.
  • There are several gold-selling scams to watch out for, including cash-for-gold scams, low offers and unbalanced scales.
  • You can look up the spot price of gold online to evaluate the value of your gold.
  • You may need a professional appraisal for gold jewelry to ensure you’re getting a fair price.
  • Selling physical gold may be taxed as high as 28%.

How much is gold worth?

Gold prices fluctuate constantly. Gold prices are influenced by a few different factors, but prices are ultimately set by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). You can check the LBMA website for prices, which are set twice daily.

But this benchmark is specifically for finding the price of one ounce of pure gold. If your gold isn’t of high purity, this can affect its price. Or, if your gold isn’t a recognized type of gold bullion (i.e., coins, bars, rounds, ingots), this can also affect the price.

Yes, this is a somewhat complicated answer to a simple question, but the value of physical gold isn’t as straightforward as a standard fiat currency (such as a physical U.S. dollar).

If you’re unsure of the value of your gold, it may be worth working with an appraiser for a professional evaluation. They can evaluate unique gold pieces, including jewelry and other gold items, giving you a more accurate fair market value. Organizations that can help you find a reputable appraiser to work with include:

» MORE: Is gold a good investment?

What type of gold can you sell?

There are various types of gold that have value — and that can, therefore, be sold to a gold dealer or individual.

  • Gold coins: Gold coins are typically minted through federal government agencies, such as the U.S. Mint or the Royal Canadian Mint. They usually come in one-ounce sizes, making them easy to price and maintain a high purity rating. These can fetch close to the gold spot price through the right gold dealer.
  • Gold bullion: Gold bullion includes coins, but also rounds, bars and ingots (larger bars). Many types of gold bullion are also minted by federal agencies, with stamps on them to identify where they can come from. Most bullion is high in purity, but not all.
  • Gold jewelry: Gold jewelry can come in all shapes and sizes from necklaces, to bands to earrings. There may be other gems or stones embedded as well. These are harder to price and may be of lower purity.
  • Other gold: Other types of gold you can sell include dental crowns, or less pure gold jewelry such as white gold or rose gold. Anything made of gold can be sold, though some pieces may be hard to value accurately.

Note: Gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are gold-backed securities that can be traded through a stock broker. Selling gold ETFs is a much different process than selling physical gold, as you can sell gold ETFs through most online brokers or investing apps.

Where to sell gold

There are several ways to sell gold, but the most common way to sell is through a gold dealer. Whether online or through an in-person precious metals dealer, you can usually get instant quotes and an offer for your gold.

There are several reputable online gold dealers that give fair offers for buying gold, including:

  • Provident Metals is an online gold dealer that allows you to sell bullion directly to them. Even most of their products have a “sell-to-us” price that shows what they will pay. You can call to discuss what you’re selling and lock in your price. Then you ship the gold, and after inspection and acceptance, you are paid by an automated clearing house (ACH) transfer, paper check or wire transfer.
  • JM Bullion is a popular online gold dealer that sells many different precious metals, and also allows you to sell bullion to them directly. You can lock in a “sell-to-us” price online and ship your gold directly. Payments are made via ACH transfer, paper check or wire transfer.
  • Alloy Market is an online gold dealer that lets you sell more than just bullion. You can sell all kinds of gold jewelry — even dental crowns or flatware sets. You can sign up to get a free appraisal kit to ship your items to them, and after appraisal, they will give you an offer. The process is all online, or you can call with any questions.

Gold scams to watch out for

Not all places to sell gold are equal, and there are many scams and rip-offs out there. Here are a few gold scams to watch out for:

  • Cash for gold: Some businesses promise to offer cash for your gold, but at well below market prices. These online or mail-in gold companies allow you to mail your gold items for a direct offer. But you might get ripped off with a low offer, or the original offer might be rescinded after you mail in your gold. And some scams may report not getting your shipment at all. Make sure to opt for tracking on your shipment and insurance to cover any potential loss.
  • Pawn shops: While a pawn shop may be a quick way to get cash in hand for your gold, you might end up getting ripped off. They can have low offers and inaccurate appraisals by “in-house” appraisers.
  • Inaccurate scales: Whether at a pawn shop, jewelry shop or gold dealer, if your gold is weighed with an inaccurate scale, you might get ripped off. Always pre-weigh your gold with your own scale before going in person to sell it.

How to get the best price for your gold

Getting the most money out of your gold requires a bit of research and legwork, but can save you hundreds of dollars (or more). Here are a few things you can do to ensure you’re getting the best price for selling your gold:

  • Get an appraisal. If you have a non-standard piece of gold (e.g., jewelry), get a formal appraisal from a third-party appraiser. This will give you an accurate fair market value of your item so you know the value before trying to sell it. Don’t use in-house appraisers if possible, as they work for the company trying to buy your gold at a discount.
  • Get multiple quotes. Don’t just settle for the first offer you receive on your gold. Get multiple offers from different gold dealers to ensure you’re getting the highest price possible. And make sure to check for fees so you receive the exact amount quoted.
  • Know the market price of gold. Use the LBMA gold price quotes to know what one ounce of gold sells for on the open market. This will help you gauge what your gold is worth so you can evaluate offers accurately.

» MORE: Why is gold valuable?

Tax implications of selling gold

While selling your gold for a massive gain can be appealing, it’s important to account for the tax implications. Gold is considered a collectible, and selling your gold for a gain is taxed at a higher rate of 28% versus capital gains taxes on most other assets.

If you are selling physical gold, the only way to avoid this tax is to hold your gold within a gold individual retirement account (IRA). Selling gold within a gold IRA is not a taxable event, and withdrawing cash after selling gold within this account is treated as ordinary income and taxed at your income tax rate. This does require all gold to be held with a custodian, though, and you can’t deposit your personal gold into this account.

Another way to avoid taxes on selling gold is to not hold physical gold in the first place. If you are looking to own gold as an investment asset, purchasing a gold ETF allows you to sell the ETF and only pay capital gains taxes. While owning the ETF for less than a year results in gains being taxed at your income tax rate, holding for a year or longer and selling is taxed at the long-term capital gains rate of 20% or less.

» MORE: Gold IRA scams to avoid

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    Is it safe to sell gold online?

    Yes, it can be safe to sell gold online, but make sure you use a reputable online gold dealer. When shipping gold to an online company, insure your package and track it to its destination.

    What is the easiest type of gold to sell?

    The easiest type of physical gold to sell is gold bullion. These are coins or bars that are usually minted by a federal government agency, such as the U.S. Mint. The purity and weight of these items are widely known, and the value is easy to look up online. The only way to sell gold more easily is if you own a gold ETF. These can be sold online through most online brokerages.

    How much gold are you allowed to own?

    There are no legal limits to how much gold you can own. But if you own physical gold, you must report to the IRS when you sell it.

    Bottom line

    Selling physical gold can be cumbersome, but with some basic research, you can understand how much your gold is worth and where to sell it. Finding a reputable gold dealer is your best bet — and using a third-party appraiser is always a good idea, especially with gold jewelry.

    Watch out for online scams and rip-offs through pawn shops or other gold dealers, and always get a second offer before deciding to sell.

    Article sources

    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:

    1. LBMA, “LBMA Precious Metal Prices.” Accessed Jan. 18, 2024.
    2. IRS, “Topic no. 409, Capital gains and losses.” Accessed Jan. 18, 2024.
    3. IRS, “IRA FAQs - Distributions (Withdrawals).” Accessed Jan. 18, 2024.
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