MARQUETTE -"Back in '69, gold was $41 an ounce," recalls Neil Jandron of Jandrons Fine Jewelry in the Westwood Mall in Marquette Township. He also recalls when wedding bands were selling for $4 or $5 a piece.
"Of course, that's back when gas was only 18 cents a gallon," said Jandron.
As times are changing and he price of gold and silver is rising. While there are many factors in the rising prices, Jandron has an idea why.
"It's a safe haven," he said, "There's not a lot of confidence in the U.S. dollar right now."
With gold prices rising to more than $1,800 per ounce, people are swarming local jewelry stores to sell unused and broken jewelry for cash.
"We open at 10," said Jandron's manager, Jon Arntsen. "Sometimes there's already people waiting in the hall."
Jessica Peters of Champion brought in some old jewelry to sell recently.
"They're just things I'm not wearing anymore," said Peters.
Many people are selling their gold back locally, getting a better price than if they sent it away to Cash4Gold or similar places.
"People have to trust and know who they're selling to," said Jandron.
Arntsen sent out a gold sample a couple years ago to an online gold buyer just to see what they would pay. They offered him $25 for a piece that Jandrons would have paid out $125.
"We play fair," added Jandron.
Depending on the karat weight of the gold, a jewelry store will test and weigh the gold and give customers a buying price based on the current price of gold that day. This can include white gold as well as yellow gold, whether it be 10-karat gold, which is 41 percent pure gold, 14-karat gold which is 58 percent or 18-karat gold which is 75 percent. At Jandrons, all sellers must be 18 years of age and scrap gold purchases are reported to the Marquette County Sheriff Department to ensure that it is not stolen.
While some people prefer cash or store credit for their gold, others get it melted down to make an entirely new custom piece of jewelry, said Chris Wattsson, co-owner of Wattsson and Wattsson Jewelers in downtown Marquette.
"A lot of people get rings and pendants made," said Kristina Plattenberg, sales manager at Wattsson and Wattsson.
"Someone could bring in a gold coin, old rings and broken jewelry, for example, and we can melt it down and make whatever the customer wants," added Plattenberg.
"All you really pay for is labor," said Wattsson.
Jandron has seen his share of interesting gold and silver items people are willing to sell. Customers have brought in things from dental gold to entire estates.
"Someone brought in a silver flute the other day," said Jandron.
As know one really knows what the future holds for gold prices, Jandron advises people to be careful when investing in gold.
"There are scammers out there that will drill holes out of a gold bar and fill it with lead and then gold plate it," he added.
Danielle Pemble can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 256. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.