Why You Should Avoid Pawning Jewelry

Pawn shop from the old West, where pawning jewelry likely occurred

When you first think of pawning jewelry or pawn shops, you may think of the TV show “Pawn Stars,” or maybe even a Quentin Tarantino film. However, pawn shops aren’t just an American practice, although more than 30 million Americans use pawn shops yearly. The practice of pawning has been around for centuries, dating back to ancient China. Today, it’s a $14.5 billion industry with 11,000+ pawnbrokers across the U.S.

While pawning jewelry or other valuables might seem like a great way to get quick cash, educating yourself on the industry, the process, and its setbacks is essential. Here are some reasons why avoiding pawn shops might be in your best interest and some alternative options to get cash for your jewelry.

What Are Pawn Shops, And How Do They Work?

A pawn shop (also called a pawnbroker) is a business that loans money to people who bring in valuable items, which they then leave with the pawn shop. The valuables left behind are known as “collateral,” meaning security for the loan provided by the pawn shop. The person can get their valuable item(s) back from the pawn shop if they pay back the money the pawn shop loaned them with interest. However, suppose the person doesn’t repay the loan and interest within an agreed-upon timeline. In that case, the pawnbroker can sell the valuable item to another customer to get back the money the pawn shop loaned.

How Do Pawn Shops Make Money?

Pawn shops make money in two ways: (1) making personal loans and (2) selling unclaimed collateral items.

Providing Personal Loans

Pawn shops give out personal loans to individuals who relinquish custody of an item, such as jewelry or electronics. The amount a pawn shop is willing to lend is based on a few different factors: the value of the item, the pawnshop’s inventory at the time of the loan, and demand for the item. Since individuals seeking a pawn loan typically can’t qualify for a traditional bank loan, the risk of default is higher. That’s why pawn shops make loans with substantially higher interest rates than banks typically charge for personal loans. State law governs the amount of interest a pawn shop is allowed to charge. In Texas, the maximum pawn shop rate is 240% APR! That’s high! 


Pawn shops’ second primary income source is retail sales on unclaimed merchandise and items purchased outright from individuals.

How Much Will Pawn Shops Give For Your Jewelry?

If you are considering pawning jewelry, you might wonder how much pawn shops offer. Unfortunately, selling your jewelry to pawn shops guarantees the lowest amount of money in exchange for your items, thanks to the business model we outlined above. While pawn shops tend to offer more money to purchase items outright than to lend against them, it still will only get you about 50% of the value of your jewelry. Even if you need cash in a pinch, there are more lucrative ways to sell and get more out of the value of your jewelry.

Alternatives to Pawning Jewelry

If you want more money out of your jewelry, there are better ways! It also makes sense to outright sell jewelry you no longer want or need, rather than taking out a loan with a pawn shop. Those interest rates are no joke, especially in Texas! Here are some other, more lucrative, ways to sell your jewelry:

Selling Online

While this isn’t a great option if you need cash on the spot, you can sell your jewelry online to get more value out of your jewels. eBay is a great, safe option for everyday sellers. If you end up needing to do an in-person transaction, here are some do’s and don’ts to ensure your safety:

  • DON’T agree to meet strangers alone.
  • DON’T give out your address.
  • DO meet in a safe, public place.
  • DO accept cash only.

Dallas Gold & Silver Exchange

We’ve been around since the 1960s. We’ve stood the test of time by offering customers the most for their jewelry and being a trustworthy source of information. If you don’t believe us, shop around before you come to see us! We’ll give you the best offer and the best experience with our friendly, knowledgeable associates. You can bring your jewelry to any of our metroplex locations during our business hours at your convenience. No appointment is necessary.

Want to learn more about the selling process at Dallas Gold & Silver Exchange? Let Loreina walk you through the easy process by clicking the video below!