How Much Do Pawn Shops Pay?

Brian McCracken


Pawn shops will often pay based on the purity of the gold. How much that pawn shop pays is normally set by the gold market and the owner’s discretion.

Jewelry made out of a precious metal is normally marked by a stamp with it’s purity. Some typical examples are 10k, 14k, 18k, 925, 417, 585, and 750.

While this might all seem confusing at first, it’s pretty simple.

  • If your jewelry is marked with either 10k OR 417 it is 10 karat.
  • If your jewelry is marked with either 14k or 585 it is 14 karat.
  • If your jewelry is marked with either 18k or 750 it is 18 karat.
  • If your jewelry is marked with 925 it is sterling silver and won’t be worth nearly as much as gold.

Once you’ve determined what karat gold you have, the next thing you need to do is determine how much it weighs.

How To Determine How Much Your Gold Weighs

How much pawn shops pay for gold will also depend on it’s weight. This is often directly in relationship to how much raw gold is currently valued at on the open market, but pawn shops will typically pay a fair value for your items.

In order to do this you will need some kind of small scale. A food scale will not work unless it measures in grams and is accurate to a tenth of a gram.

Once you have a scale that can measure items to the tenth of a gram, you need to weigh your gold jewelry and figure out how many grams it weighs.

*Important* – If your item has large colored stones in it, you have to discard the weight of those stones. For instance, if you have a gold ring with a thin band, but it has a large square red stone in it – that stone will probably be most of the weight of your ring and will not be used to make a loan against in most cases. So whatever weight you come up with, subtract the approximate weight of any non-diamond stones in it.

Once You Know Those Two Things

As soon as you figure out how much your gold weighs and what karat it is, head over to the Karat Kalculator, select ‘grams’ from the drop down box and put the weight into the appropriate karat field. Click on the orange calculate button.

Just to the right of the value you put in there will be a new number called ‘Estimated Value.’

That ‘Estimated Value’ is what a pawn shop could get for your item if they had to melt it today and will be what they base their offer for your item on. You can assume that they will give you between 40-70% of that ‘estimated value’ depending on the pawn shop and how competitive the local gold market is that you live in.

Does That Sound Cheap?

Yes, compared to what you or a loved one paid for your jewelry that might sound pretty cheap. Unfortunately that is how the gold market works.

You see, when you buy jewelry from a jewelry store you aren’t just buy the gold and diamonds. You are also paying for their overhead, the employee’s salary, their benefits, the rent, the bills and that’s not to mention the profit margin that the jewelry store would like to make on the item.

The fact is that just because you paid thousands of dollars for something doesn’t mean that’s actually what it is worth.

Jewelry is typically worth far less than what you actually pay for it in a store.

How Much Do Pawn Shops Pay For Non-Jewelry?

For simplicity’s sake, we aren’t going to cover things like cars, boats or items that require unique consideration. Those types of merchandise don’t makeup the majority of loans made in a pawn shop anyways.

What is common to see come into a pawn shop are things like tools, instruments, cameras, electronics, etc…

For these kinds of items you have to keep a couple things in mind.

First – If the item is very common and the pawn shop already has several similar items in stock, they may not pay you as much as you would think for your items. If they can’t sell the merchandise they already have on hand, the last thing they want is more of it!

Second – If the item is very common to come in the door, the pawn shop may not have to look it up or evaluate it beyond just seeing what it is. They may already have established guidelines for what they pay for it and in that case, you have no real way to determining what they may pay you for it other than just taking it in and finding out first hand.

Quick ‘At Home’ Way Of Determining Value

pawn shops pay based on ebay prices
Pawn shops will typically research an items value on eBay when decided how much they can pay you for it. eBay gives the pawn shop a fair understanding of the item’s current used value.

Since you are reading this, I will assume that you have access to the internet. That being the case, you’ve probably heard of before.

EBay acts as a live marketplace where various goods are constantly being bought a sold. Because of that a lot of pawn shop will rely on eBay to find out how much they can sell your item(s) for when you bring them in.

If you want to find out what that value may be, go to eBay yourself and look up your items model number to see what similar items are selling for.

*Important* – You’ve got to ignore ‘Buy It Now’ prices or auctions that have no bids. Just because someone lists something for $1,000,000 doesn’t mean it’s actually worth $1,000,000.

You have to click on the ‘advanced’ tab and search for ‘completed’ or ‘sold’ listing only. Auctions that have actually completed with a sale will be colored in Green.

Those are the prices pawn shop will look at so that’s what you have to look at when trying to figure out how much a pawn shop will pay for your item.

Take whatever those prices are and look for the lowest price. That is the price that a pawn shop will know they could sell your item for if it was in the same kind of condition and equally complete.

Remember The Golden Rule!

When you finally do find that price, remember that pawn shops must pay less for something than they can turn around a sell it for. So figure on getting only between 40-70% of whatever the price listed in the eBay auction actually was.

The Nerd’s Experience

I’ve been buying and selling merchandise every day for 5 years straight. Trust me when I tell you that there has been more than one person that thought they should be paid more for their items than I was prepared to offer them.

It’s not because pawn shops are the enemy. Just the opposite. 

I want to be your friend. I want to help people across the counter from me. Because of that it really does bother me when someone finds out that their jewelry or circular saw may not have been worth what they were hoping.

Just keep in mind that pawn shop employees are people to. They aren’t looking to ‘get over on you’ or ‘take advantage of you.’ Most of them come to work every day knowing that they will be able to help a lot of people – and they take a lot of pride in that.

If you run into a situation where you aren’t happy with the value you were given on an item, it’s probably still an honest offer. Pawn shops have to know that they will be able to sell something for a little more than they buy it for and it’s just the nature of the business. It’s not an attack or an insult against you.

And keep this in mind – for every 1 person that is disappointed in the value they are given there are 20 people who are extremely happy with the amount they received. It’s true!

More often than not, people are happy to do business with us. That’s part of what keeps us coming to work every day.

But with all of that having been said, I suppose we should wrap this up…

Wasn’t That Simple?

Those are two quick ways you can try to determine how much a pawn shop will pay for your merchandise. Pretty simple huh?

If you have any comments or questions, leave them in the comment form below! I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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