My delay in selling the ring until last week was not due to a lack of options. In fact, there are several reputable jewelry stores in my area that either buy heirloom jewelry outright, or sell it on consignment. For some reason, however, selling the ring to Zales didn't seem right: a ring with that kind of history, I believed, belonged somewhere more classy and refined than in a mall jewelry store.
Last week, I found such an establishment in a strip mall next to Chuck-E-Cheese. Hanging above the storefront was a large red banner than read simply "We Buy Gold." Upon entering the store, my children and I were greeted by a middle-aged man seated at a card table. The remaining 1998 square feet of store space was completely empty, save several cardboard boxes huddled against the back corner and an abundant supply of electrical wires protruding from the walls, floor, and ceiling.
"You are in the process of renovating?" I assumed.
"No," replied the man in a thick accent, patting the card table. "This is all I need."
"I like a man who gets right down to business," I said.
The man ignored me and held out his hand. I handed him the ring.
My kids watched intently as the man produced a small arsenal of squeegee bottles and eyedroppers from a shoebox underneath his chair. After dropping several chemicals onto the ring, the man examined the ring with a magnifying glass. He was very nice to let my kids examine the ring too.
"Can I drop some of that stuff onto the ring?" asked Camber, pointing at the bottles of acid.
The man put an arm protectively around the chemicals.
"These are expensive," he said.
"And deadly," I added.
After putting the chemicals away, the man put the ring on a small scale. His eyebrows furrowed when he read the results.
"The scale says $44," he told me, "But for you, I will pay $50."
It took me a minute to mentally calculate how many donut holes this would purchase. After determining that the number was satisfactory, I told the man that we had a deal.
After tossing the ring into a Ziploc bag filled with bangle bracelets and a number of handsome gold nugget rings, the man pulled a $50 bill out of his pocket and handed it to me. He then ripped a piece of college-ruled paper out of a notebook and wrote two things on it:
Sliding the paper across the table he said, "I need your signature...for tax purposes."
As I scrawled my name, I felt relieved to know that Uncle Sam was going to get his cut of the sale of the ring. The appearance of the store had made me initially question the legality of the transaction, but I was glad to learn that my concerns were completely unfounded.
As we left "We Buy Gold," the $50 bill began to burn a hole in my pocket. My friend was getting off work in an hour, and we needed to move quickly if we expected to make all of our purchases before she got home.
There was another reason for my urgency: I had a gut feeling that "We Buy Gold" might not be open for business much longer and I had a bunch of gold chains and one large nugget ring that I was anxious to trade in for a dozen creme-filled eclairs.