The price of gold boasts one of the most impressive multi-year gains in history, and many analysts don't think it's done yet. When gold prices rise, consumers look to sell their gold. When is the best time to sell, and how do you know you're getting a fair price?
TUTORIAL: Commodities: Gold

The Best Time Is …
The best time to sell gold is the subject of daily debates among investing professionals all over the world. To answer that question, think like an investor. Is there more upside to gold or has it hit its peak? If you don't need the money and you think gold may continue to rise in value, hold on to it. If you're ready to sell now, here's what you need to know to get a fair price.

Find the Right Dealer
As gold prices rise, more people want to buy it, but not all of those dealers are reputable. Search for a dealer that adheres to industry standards. Two sites to find reputable dealers are the World Gold Council website and The American Numismatic Association. For other local dealers in your area, nothing is more valuable than word of mouth from somebody you trust. (For related reading, see What Drives The Price Of Gold?)

Know What You Have
Know what you have before you meet with the potential. Gold should have an indication of the carat measurement on it. Twenty-four carat is the purest and will demand the highest price per troy ounce. Carat markings in the United States are required by law to have a "K" next to them so "10K" means that the piece is made with 10 carat gold. Experts advise to not let the dealer say that standards are different throughout the world, and the stamp on the jewelry is not accurate.

Watch the Scale
Demand that the dealer weigh your gold in front of you where you can clearly see the numbers on the scale. You can also test the scale by weighing a standard United States nickel. The scale should say that it weighs five grams, but anything down to 4.9 grams is acceptable.

Understand the Measurements
Gold is weighted in troy ounces, or 31.1 grams. The more common ounce is only 28 grams. When you go to the gold dealer, they will weigh it and tell you how many grams of gold you have. In order to know if the price is fair, you have to convert the grams to troy ounces. It's best to have your gold weighed by somebody other than the person making you an offer to buy. After its weighed, meet with potential buyers.

Know What Is Fair
The dealer will probably not keep your gold. Instead, the dealer will sell it to somebody else. Before the process is complete, it may be sold multiple times. Each of those sellers expects to make a profit so you should not expect to receive the full spot price for your gold. Before meeting with the dealer, find one of the many online calculators that will tell you how much your gold is worth based on the current spot price, its weight and its purity. After you know the price, shop around and find the dealer who will give you the most money for your gold. (For related reading, see What Is Wrong With Gold?)

The Bottom Line
If you're not convinced that you want to sell, hold on to your gold. However, don't take the buyer's word for it if you do choose to sell. Know what you have and what it's worth before meeting with anybody.