With the price of gold now topping $1,420 (£909) per ounce, Tesco is now expanding its very recently opened gold buying operation.

Tesco opened its Gold Exchange [1] in Nov 2010, which allows its customers to sell their old unwanted gold jewellery as they went about their weekly shopping.

Tesco says that it wants to bring a better service to customers in this area after a string of complaints about other gold trinket buyers. It is also entering a burgeoning industry with the number of pawnbrokers having increased by some 44% since 2008.

Just like the other operators you can order a pack and then bung your bling in the prepaid package through the post for evaluation before deciding whether to go ahead or not. With Tesco though you can also drop your packet off at the store before browsing the aisles.

Tesco also claims to give the fairest price it can and shows comparisons on its site (taking a swipe at WH Smith on the way). Today it is offering £7.81p per gram of 9 carat gold.

Now 9 carat gold is actually 37.5% gold (24 carat gold is 99.99% pure gold). Pure gold is changing hands on BullionVault for about £29,250 per Kg or £29.25p per gram. Now with 9 carat gold being 37.5% pure then it would be worth at best about £10.95p per gram. I make that a tad over 28% mark up to pay for all the packaging, postage, administration, etc etc.

As the economic situation bites more homes there will be a temptation to scour the attic and behind the sofa for any unwanted items for the car boot sale and for the odd gold item to sell off. But keep your eye on the price of gold as there are many experts who think its price is set to climb a lot higher. With that will come not only better prices but also more competition from buyers as the market place crowds out with more pawnbrokers.

It is a real pity that, at a time when more people should be buying gold to help safeguard their futures, many are being forced to sell it just to live from day to day.

[1] www.tescogoldexchange.com/

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