Jewelers, pawn shops see more customers trading in fake gold

12:46 AM, Jul 12, 2011   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - With the price of gold way up, lots of people are turning in their jewelry for cash.

However, more jewelers and pawn shops are seeing an interesting trend - fake gold.

People, who don't realize that they've been duped, have tried to to cash in on their gold jewelry; but they've discovered that it's fake.

California Loan and Jewelry said it's happening every day. Sharif Jewelers said it's happening two to three times a day in their store.

According to jewelers, people are buying the gold necklaces and chains after being approached in parking lots or on the street.

"They think they're getting a great deal...Because they want to make fast money, they'll fall for the guy on the street trying to sell them the phony stuff," California Loan and Jewelry Larry Analpolsky said.

"People are getting scammed on this because (gold) prices are through the roof," Sharif Jewelers Tony Mora said. "People are coming in to sell, thinking they got a good deal. They come out disappointed that it's not real."

That's what happened on Monday afternoon at Sharif Jewelers.

A couple who received a gold necklace as a gift stopped in the store hoping to trade it in for cash. They learned that the necklace was fake even though it still had a price tag on it for $399 dollars and the notation that it was a 14K gold chain made in Italy.

Many gold chains and necklaces have a 14K stamp. They are also heavy. But upon further review, the jewelry turns out to be gold plated or copper.

"A lot of people can stamp anything 14K or 18K and come in and try to pass it off as gold," Mora said.

Jewelers test the gold. Sometimes, they have to test it in different ways.

"The counterfeit pieces that are made are very good," Analpolsky said. "A lot of them have thick plating on it. It takes cutting into the metal."

He said the criminals who make the gold are very sophisticated in what they produce and how they produce it.

"We do know there's product out of Los Angeles," Analpolsky said. "There's also been counterfeit things definitely coming from out of the country." 

Multiple jewelers said some of the fake gold jewelry comes from gangs - bringing it through the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and from Mexico.

Sacramento police said it's not aware of any reports where people unknowingly bought fake gold.

They offer some suggestions if you buy gold.

Go with your gut feeling. If it's too good to be true, it probably is. And, make purchases through reputable companies.

By Suzanne Phan,

Twitter: @suzannephan


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