It's a gold rush that's only missing the prospectors.
It got Dean Tankersley, of Appling, to part with some of her jewelry collection.
"It was out-of-date stuff that I didn't like," she said. "It was stuff for years that I kept away."
The price of gold prompted her spring cleaning. With the price hovering around $880 an ounce, broken and forgotten jewelry has become too valuable to gather dust in drawers.
Local gold dealers and jewelry stores have been reaping the benefits.
When it came time to sell the jewelry and replace it with something else, Mrs. Tankersley went to her husband's store.
Leonard "Tank" Tankersley, the owner of The Gold Shop on Washington Road, said sellers are coming in from neighboring counties, some as far away as Statesboro and Swainsboro, to sell their old gold and silver to him.
"We bought wedding bands from people who said that they weren't divorced, they simply could get more for the bands than they paid for them," Mr. Tankersley said. "We bought 11 bags of gold (Tuesday). We have already bought half that much today."
A bag of gold is a 3-by-5-inch paper bag that holds each seller's items and bears a reference number and date of sale.
Wayne Damron, the owner of Clein's Rare Coins on Telfair Street, said he hasn't seen such a run of people dumping their jewelry since the late 1970s, when there was an increase in silver and gold prices.
Mr. Damron said he noticed the surge begin three months ago. Gold futures were at $1,000 per ounce in March. Although gold has come back down since then, it is still selling for hundreds more than last year.
"Five years ago, I was selling a 1-ounce bullion piece for $275," Mr. Damron said. "I have people coming back and selling me the gold I sold to them."
Jewelry stores have turned to ads to tap into the seller's market.
"It is something we have been doing forever, but we've never really advertised it much," said Michael Zibman, the general manager of Windsor Jewelers.
Mr. Zibman said he thinks things have gotten busier recently because the high price of the metals has stuck around. People who were initially hesitant are bringing in their wares to sell.
Broken necklaces, earrings and class rings have been the bulk of the gold items coming into Clein's Rare Coins, Mr. Damron said. Silver is higher, too, he said, resulting in customers unloading necklaces and silverware sets.
Gold and silver sold to Mr. Damron eventually goes off to a refinery, where it will be turned into bars and become jewelry again. Mr. Tankersley is keeping most of his influx because his business remanufactures jewelry.
Both shop owners said they believe the trend stems from media reports on the price of gold and network television morning shows suggesting people sell their unwanted jewelry. Customers are citing that reason more often than economic stress.
"This is the best thing we could be doing, including the jewelry stores," Mr. Damron said. "The stimulus checks, that's the taxpayer's pocket, we all paid for that somehow. Bring in some scraps and get a check, the government didn't support that. Your stimulus came from something that was in the drawer collecting dust."
Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT'S AN OUNCE WORTH?
Gold $886 Silver $17.07
Source: New York Mercantile Exchange
THINKING OF SELLING?
Keep in mind the $880 per ounce of gold is pure gold (24K). Other grades of gold won't fetch that much on a trade-in. A 14K gold piece is 58 percent pure gold and will likely get 58 percent of that $880 price, adjusted for its actual weight.
An all-gold plain women's wedding band of 2 to 3 millimeters could sell for between $20 to $35; a men's ring, which is heavier and larger, might bring $35 to $50. Sellers should visit several stores to get the best offer. Store owners said to be prepared to provide a photo ID and sign a register cataloguing the items you are selling.