Page last updated at 23:35 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 00:35 UK

Is it time to sling your bling?

By Maryam Moshiri
Business reporter, BBC News

A party-goer has her jewellery valued
Experts say party-goers should do their research before selling any gold

Friends, food and fine wine together make a decent party in anyone's book. But at this particular gathering wine is not the only thing sparkling and the guests aren't here for just the canapés.

Hostess Sarah Middleton has organised a bring-and-sell-gold party - a popular concept from the US which has become a growing trend in recession-hit Britain.

The high price of gold, the economic downturn and the stigma attached to being seen in a pawn shop have all helped give this concept more sparkle, she says.

"We've all got, at least I have, little bits. The odd earring, a watch that doesn't work and I just think frankly I need the cash," admits the hostess.

Sarah Middleton also says she is not happy with the idea of going into a pawn shop to sell her gold.

"It's a bit tacky isn't it? This is much more fun. Get your friends round, all have a bit of a laugh and maybe make some money."

Worth its weight?

Guests come to the party with their old jewellery or pieces of gold which are tested and weighed by a valuer provided by a company.

A gold necklace is weighed

They will offer you a price for it, based on the actual price of gold that day.

The gold-buying company makes money by only giving around 70% of the actual value of the gold - which it then melts into bars and sells on at a profit.

The boss of Ounces to Pounds, the people behind Sarah's party believes the seller gets a good deal.

"It's usually about 20-30% higher than the pawn shops will pay," says Krista Waddell.

"Anyone who is buying gold is doing it as a business so there has to be some sort of mark-up. Our service is a service, the hostess receives 10% of the payout for the party and we come to them."

Profitable plan?

All that glitters, however, isn't necessarily a good idea.

Gold experts warn that selling the family jewellery now may not benefit you in the long run.

"Gold is a proven store of value, so obviously it is going to retain its value for a long period of time, so it shouldn't be your first consideration if you are looking to sell things around the house," warns Matt Greydon from the World Gold Council.

He advises people to do some research before parting with anything.

"If you are going to sell, you do need to think about the weight of your piece, the caratage [number of carats] of the piece and assess what the current gold price is and that will give you a good idea of the true value of your piece."

Back at Jill's house the party is in full swing.

The excitement mounts as one of her guests is offered nearly £400 for a few old wedding rings and earrings.

"Tempting," she says. "That's quite a lot of money for stuff that's just come out of a box. Can I think about it?"

Parting with old jewellery is clearly still a sentimental problem for some. The question is whether making the decision to cash in your bling will really be worth its weight in gold.

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