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A party for the financially pressed. December 22, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Now I’ve really seen it all: the party to end all parties.

I’ve never gotten the point of those so-called “parties” where people try to sell things, like Tupperware or jewelry, to their “guests.” But they must be popular, since so many people host them.

I thought this was the most bizarre party idea on earth until I read about Botox parties a few years back. I have to assume that people still use Botox, but that it’s now more in the category of getting your teeth cleaned or something. But back in the day, when Botox was shiny and new, there was apparently a craze for throwing “Botox parties” with a doctor in attendance, who’d oblige the guests with injections of botulism toxin to remove their wrinkles. Being needle-averse, extremely averse to being injected with a potentially paralyzing toxin, and by God’s grace, unwrinkled, this concept struck me as the weirdest idea for a party I’d ever heard of. Ouch. Some party!

But this morning, an article in our local paper, the Allentown, PA Morning Call, made me change my mind. It was about a new trend in party-giving brought on by our recessionary times.

Potlucks, you’re thinking? Low-key get-togethers involving cards, knitting, watching DVDs, birdwatching, maybe a walk in the park or attending a free concert? Hardly. “Guests get paid at these parties,” the headline proclaimed. Uh-oh. Exactly what kind of party are we talking about here?!! And if something untoward’s going on, why is the article about it in the finance section of the paper?

Turns out, these parties are indeed about buying and selling, but this time, the guests do the selling and an appraiser does the buying. Here’s what the article has to say about the latest “home-entertaining trend”: “…gold parties, where guests come bearing unwanted gold, sterling silver and platinum, usually jewelry, to be evaluated by an appraiser. If the pieces are found to be of value, the jeweler writes a check…”

We’ve written here before about one sign of economic hard times being the endless full-page ads in our paper for jewelry stores and travelling appraisers, who often set up in hotels, advertising their services: “Bring in your old jewelry! Highest prices paid!” But the concept of a “party” takes the sad and permanent pawning of family treasures and sentimental keepsakes to a whole new level.

What’s fueling the hysteria is a truism of hard times: When the economy takes a downturn and people lose faith in paper money and scrap-metal coinage, real assets like precious metals rise in value. Gold has hit an all-time high at $1,100 an ounce (that’s for pure, 24-carat gold), and silver has reached a 10-year high at $18 an ounce (for sterling), according to the article. People are rushing to unload their valuables so they can pay off their mortgages and credit cards.

According to the article, the party’s host or hostess serves guests wine and cheese while an appraiser goes over their goods in an alcove or other place discreetly removed from the “party” itself. (I hope this was true of the Botox parties as well.) In return, the person throwing the party receives “10 percent of the night’s total, plus 3 percent from future parties booked by any guests that night.”

That was a bit eye-opening, but paled by comparison to a quote from one of the guests at the party the journalist attended: “Usually with these types of parties, you leave $200 to $300 poorer.” What?!! Please don’t tell me that people are spending $300 on Tupperware! (The guest went on to compare this to a gold party, where guests could come home hundreds or even thousands of dollars richer.)

Returning to the gold party, and to these “give us your gold” buyers in general, there’s something anyone considering parting with antiques and coins should consider: The appraisers are buying for melt, and are paying accordingly. You’ll get better prices going to specialists who will value your antique jewelry or gold and silver coins for their collector value. And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that at least your family heirlooms will be sold to other people who can appreciate them, not melted down like scrap for their metal value.

Unfortunately, hard times do often call for hard measures. But it seems that there’s always someone prepared to profit from the silver (or, in this case, gold) lining to those proverbial clouds. Just don’t invite me to the party, please. And keep your Botox to yourself.

          ‘Til next time,


Note: You can read the article in its entirety at www.themorningcall.com.



1. Patrick Coughlin - December 22, 2009

We have doing gold parties now for three years around the Country. I can tell you form experience they are fun, filled with stories of ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends who bought treasures to usually get out of the dog house.

The typical party has six – eight women who are selling items that are out of date or items from ex’s which have no sentimental attachment. Rarely are they selling due to financial hardship. We see those who are in dire need of cash selling their gold in jewelry stores and pawn shops. We have owned a brick and mortar jewelry store for 25 years and yes, people who need to make a car payment or house payment do sell their gold in the store, but hardly ever at a party. Parties are more social and it is a group of girlfriends who get together and clean out some of those items they will never wear again.

At the parties we see a lot of class rings, broken chains, single earrings (one lost), and 98% yellow gold. The styles that were popular in the 70’s and 80’s. Remember those good old Mr.T days?

Financially, at our parties, we generally pay out more than what the items were purchased for. Not long ago, we were selling rope and herringbone necklaces for $10 per gram. Now we are paying out $12 – $15 per gram depending on if it is 10k or 14k.

At one of our parties we even paid out $270 just for gold crowns in teeth.

Most women who come to our parties have a handful of old broken gold which is worth between $600 and $800 with gold at $1100oz. These women use this cash for “mad money” and don’t tell their spouse how much they received. They will usually just hit the mall and get some new clothes or a new Coach purse.

It seems like everywhere you turn, there are ads to “Sell your Gold”. Since there is no regulation on buying gold, the consumer should get a few quotes from others before they sell their gold at a party or any location.

Gold parties are a blast and profitable for all.


Thanks for checking in, Patrick! (But, er, I don’t think I want to know how those gold crowns happened to be in the partygoer’s possession!) And readers, you now have a contact if you’d like to know more about hosting or attending a gold party!

2. Cinj - December 23, 2009

Wow, that’s just plain crazy. I am not rolling in gold antiques, but if I were I sure wouldn’t be selling them at a party.

We were brought up with such reverence for our family heirlooms that we wouldn’t dare sell them, Cinj! I’d have nightmares of all my ancestors collectively rolling in their graves. It’s one thing, as Patrick notes, to sell broken chains and singleton earrings that have no sentimental value and would otherwise spend eternity in your jewelry box (strange that no one ever showered me with these!), quite another to have to part with family treasures. Let’s hope that none of us is ever faced with that extreme!

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