With gold prices skyrocketing, this small stack of gold coins at Rogue Valley Coin and Jewelry is worth more than $7,000. Mail Tribune illustration / Bob Pennell - Bob Pennell

Fool's gold?

With two out-of-town gold buyers in Medford this week, local coin and jewelry dealers are warning would-be sellers to check their options before accepting what could prove to be low-ball offers.

British International Roadshow is at the Hampton Inn, 1122 Morrow Road, while Precious Gems and Metals, an Indiana-based company, is at the Rogue Regency, 2300 Biddle Road. Both are here through Sunday and both are offering to buy local residents' jewelry, watches, coins, gold and more.

But one local coin and jewelry dealer urges those thinking of selling their precious metals to take their time and shop around before selling.

In a newspaper advertisement, Rogue Valley Coin and Jewelry warns in large type, "Don't sell your gold ... silver ... platinum ... for less than it's worth. Don't sell to the out of town hotel buyers for less than your items are worth."

Michael Cotta, owner of Rogue Valley Coin and Jewelry, 41 S. Grape St., said he's heard many stories from customers who were given nominal offers on their gold items.

Cotta said a local woman brought in an 18-carat gold necklace in May of this year. He said when he offered to buy it from her for $1,285, she said she had been offered only $200 from an out-of-town "road buyer."

The sudden interest in old jewelry and gold coins is driven by the skyrocketing price of gold, which hit $1,917 an ounce Tuesday before falling back to about $1,860 as investors took profits. Gold is up nearly $300 an ounce this month, as world economic jitters have sent investors looking for options. One year ago, gold was $1,227 an ounce. Five years ago, it was $624, and 10 years ago, it was $274.

That kind of value jump has sent people to their jewelry boxes, with dollar signs dancing in their heads. But Cotta said his advice is "seller beware."

"I'm trying to educate the older folks in town," says Cotta, noting that often it's the buying company, not the individual, that makes the killing.

"They (buyers) can still make a profit and pay fair prices," he said.

British International Roadshow describes itself as "an organization of international experts" who travel around the U.S. buying jewelry, coins and collectibles. The company is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. (This location has been corrected.)

Both British International Roadshow and Precious Gems and Metals receive the Better Business Bureau's top rating, an A+, but the bureau also has posted information suggesting that traveling companies may not pay top dollar.

Stan Walter, owner of Precious Gems and Metals, said Tuesday that his traveling buyers provide a service.

"We've been doing this since the '70s, we're very customer-oriented, when a customer comes down and visits us, we take the time to educate them, and let them know what they have and what it's worth on the market that day; it's a low-key, no-pressure atmosphere," Walter said Tuesday. He agreed, however, that sellers should be careful.

"It's a volatile business," he said. "There's a lot of unscrupulous people that take advantage of folks."

Cotta said that volatile nature of gold has affected local sellers, who seem to be keeping a close eye on the price. When gold dropped by $60 an ounce Tuesday, he quickly had a line of 15 to 20 customers in his downtown Medford store ready to sell.

Walter, of Precious Gems and Metals, said his business has grown substantially in recent years. Four years ago he had only four employees, now he has 18 traveling to different markets in the U.S.

"We look at our company as a service to the general public," said Walter. "They don't have to sell; that's the customer's decision, not ours."

Walter's company offers private appointments for homebound customers who can't make it to the hotel buying events.

"Most people don't know where to take stuff and they don't want to go to a pawn shop," said Walter, adding that he's come to expect resistance from local buyers.

"I wouldn't like guys coming in from out of town either, it's competition," said Walter, "but our country is all about free enterprise, isn't it?"

Cotta, however, said sellers should keep their own best interests in mind and not take the first offer they're given.

"Don't go out and sell your stuff for less than it's worth," he said.

Reach reporter Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or by email at

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