Metal traders watch sales soar with price of gold

With gold trading above $1,400 an ounce, buyers are getting the precious metal in some peculiar forms.

With gold trading above $1,400 an ounce, buyers are getting the precious metal in some peculiar forms.

“We get a fair amount of dental gold these days,” said Jack Fortin, who operates Jaxville Gold and Silver Trading in Red Deer. “Sometimes it comes with teeth still stuck in it, and you’ve got to separate that.”

Fortunately for precious metal traders, jewelry and coins are more common. But regardless of how it arrives from members of the public, more is coming in.

“My business has grown dramatically,” said Fortin, attributing this to the rising price of gold. “We’re paying over four times what we were paying when we first opened in 2004.”

An out-of-town buyer — The Gold Recyclers — set up a temporary kiosk at Parkland Mall on Thursday and plans to remain there until Monday. Red Deer is one of a number of communities that the business, which is operated by Jay Lyn Jewellers of Victoria, has visited.

“We travel all over Western Canada and we’re actually sending a team to Ontario this summer,” said Nicole Polet, Jay Lyn’s marketing director.

The jewelry store has been recycling gold for more than 20 years, said Polet, but previously it did so mainly as a service to its customers. The rising price of gold convinced Jay Lyn to hit the road.

“We’ve noticed a huge increase,” said Polet, noting that people used to sell gold items to get rid of them; now they’re motivated by the profit potential.

“In the last couple of months gold has taken another leap. Anytime we see gold go up, we see a spike.”

Fortin agreed that gold’s rising value has convinced many people to dig through their jewelry boxes and coin collections.

“Say they have 25 grams of 10-karat jewelry, that’s $300 to $400 worth of material there.”

Polet said The Gold Recyclers gets a “mixed bag” of items at its kiosks.

“There are lots of broken chains, single earrings, things that people just don’t wear anymore.”

Much of the jewelry it receives is pretty typical — despite sellers’ assumption to the contrary.

“A lot of people think that their jewelry is unique, and it’s not.”

Fortin said he noticed many people selling their gold and silver out of economic necessity during the recession, but he’s happy to say that this is now occurring less often.

“I don’t see as many people selling out of desperation now.”

Jaxville, The Gold Recyclers and other buyers send the gold they buy to refiners, where it is melted and assayed to determine its purity. Ultimately, it finds its way into other gold products.

Polet said the process has environmental benefits because it reduces the amount of gold that must be mined.

Fortin said when he first opened the only other precious metal buyer in Red Deer was a jeweller, who did so part time. Now, people can sell at places like Money Mart and even through online dealers.

“Some places pay way less than what they should be,” cautioned Fortin, who ran a full-page ad in Friday’s Advocate detailing what he pays for specific items.

He felt it was important to provide this information so prospective sellers know what their gold and silver is worth.

Fortin expects gold and silver prices to level off this spring, explaining that the market usually follows an annual cycle. But he’s predicting a spike in prices thereafter.

“I can see us easily into $1,600 to $1,700 by late fall or early winter.”

And that could just be the beginning, he said.

“We haven’t seen nothing yet. This is going to get a lot crazier in the years ahead.”

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