If you're in the market to sell of some of your baubles, make sure to find a reputable jeweler. Also, go to a website like Kitco.com to find out the going rates.
You might not get as much as you'd like for a bracelet, necklace or earrings, but "if you go to someone reputable, you'll get some money for something that was just sitting in your drawer," said Briaud. "That's not the worst thing in the world, particularly for people with cash-flow issues."
On its website, the FTC advises investors take cautions. Among their tips:
If you are buying bullion coins or collectible coins, ask for the coin's melt value -- the basic intrinsic bullion value of a coin if it were melted and sold. The melt value for virtually all bullion coins and collectible coins is widely available.
Consider additional costs. You may need to buy insurance, a safe deposit box, or rent offsite storage to safeguard bullion. These costs will cut into the investment potential of bullion.
Walk away from sales pitches that minimize risk or sales representatives who claim that risk disclosures are mere formalities. Reputable sales reps are upfront about the risk of particular investments. Always get a receipt for your transaction.
Refuse to "act now." Any sales pitch that urges you to buy immediately is a signal to walk away and hold on to your money.
Check out the seller by entering the company's name in a search engine online. Read about other people's experiences with the company. Try to communicate offline if possible to clarify any details. In addition, contact your state attorney general (www.naag.org) and local consumer protection agency (www.consumeraction.gov). This kind of research is prudent, although it isn't foolproof: It may be too soon for someone to realize they've been defrauded or to have lodged a complaint with the authorities.