How to Buy Jewelry at a Pawn Shop

A Guide to Finding and Selecting the Highest Quality Gold and Diamonds at Pawn Shops

Many people wish they could afford to gift jewelry to their sweethearts, without knowing they CAN. Buying jewelry at a pawn shop means getting 30-50% off retail prices. If you know where to buy, you could get jewelry for what you´d pay for a brand-name handbag or a bottle of fine perfume.

Here´s what you do when you buy jewelry at a pawn shop:

  1. Embrace “pre-owned.” Pawn shops mostly sell refurbished or pre-owned jewelry. That shouldn´t stop you from buying there. Gold is non-renewable element, so at the end of the day, all jewelry is “recycled” to a certain extent.
  1. Find out what the discount is. At CashCo Pawn Shop in San Diego, for example, jewelry is always 50% off retail price and even more. This means that the 50% off is not a promotional price, it´s the regular price. Additional 10% off sales happen through the year.
  1. Ask for guarantees. “We guarantee the gold karat weight and diamond carats of every piece we sell,” says Ediz Benaroya, CashCo Pawn Shop´s General Manager. “We have in-house, GIA gemologists who certify our jewelry. If you are buying jewelry at a pawn shop, you should definitely ask for valid guarantees and certifications”.
  1. Avoid jewelry scams. Make sure you are getting the real thing; avoid buying jewelry listed on Craiglist or Offer Up. Unless the seller can extend a GIA certification or a valid appraisal document, you have no way of knowing if you are buying fine jewelry, or a high-quality replica.
  1. Take advantage of layaway systems. Modern pawn shops offer the same perks as regular jewelry stores, minus the hefty retail markups. Benefits include layaway systems and loyalty programs. Check out CashCo´s interest-free layaway system and its “Points to Prizes” loyalty program, where you earn points with every purchase, which you can exchange for goodies.
  1. Examine the piece. Pre-owned jewelry often shows signs of wear, such as thinning of a ring´s wall or prongs (which hold diamonds, pearls and gemstones). Not all pawn shops fix those issues, but some do: be sure to ask. At CashCo Pawn Shops in San Diego, every piece of jewelry is reconditioned, cleaned and polished before hitting the sales floor. Defective clasps are replaced and scratches are polished away so the jewelry looks brand new.

When inspecting pre-owned jewelry, look out for the following:

  • Clasps (you don´t want to lose your bracelet due to malfunctions)
  • Broken or twisted prongs
  • Lose pearls, diamonds and gemstones (usually due to broken prongs)
  • Open chain links
  • Inscriptions (you may ask the shop to remove them)
  • Karat markings (on gold pieces), such as 14K or 18K


A carat is a unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstones. A karat, on the other hand, is used as a unit of purity for gold. Gold is usually mixed with other metals to make it harder. Each karat indicates 1/24th of the whole. If a piece of jewelry is made of with 18 parts gold and 6 parts copper, it is marked “18-karat” gold.

Common gold markings:

Mark: Meaning:
333 8K Gold
375 9K Gold
416 or 417 10K Gold
500 12K Gold
583 or 585 14K Gold
750 18K Gold
916 or 917 22K Gold
999 24K Gold
  1. Don´t let superstitions get in the way. There is still no scientific evidence of a link between pre-owned engagement rings and a happy or unhappy marriage. However, there is plenty of evidence that judicious spending can tip the marriage in a positive direction. So go ahead, take the plunge.

Questions to Ask When Buying Jewelry at a Pawnshop:

  • Is there an additional cost for repairing malfunctioning pieces such as clasps?
  • Is there an additional cost for cleaning and polishing the piece?
  • Can you remove inscriptions?
  • Can the store personalize the piece?
  • How much does a professional jewelry cleaning cost?
  • Can they shorten a chain or bracelet?
  • Do you provide karat warranties?
  • Is your jewelry certification provided by GIA trained gemologists and jewelers?
  • Are you a member of the NPA (National Pawnshops Association)?

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CashCo Pawn Shop and any third parties or individuals appearing in this article are not specifically recommending any particular financial product or service. The information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as financial, legal or tax planning advice. Unless specifically identified as such, the individuals interviewed or otherwise listed in this piece are neither clients, employees nor affiliates of CashCo Pawn and the views expressed are their own. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation.Promotions are subject to change without notice, conditions apply, check with the store for participation rules.

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