By Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – Selling old gold jewelry is an easy way to pick up some extra cash, which is why it has become so popular during the economic slump. Even if you have just a few small pieces, the stash in your jewelry box could be worth more than you think.

“The price of gold has been spiking,” explained Andy Perpertsian, who owns a rare coin shop near Boston’s Downtown Crossing.

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Many people have taken the easy way out, selling their gold online and dropping it in the mail. However, comparison tests show websites are paying substantially less than local shops.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

Claire Rosenzweig of the Better Business Bureau said some of the websites that offer to buy your gold have questionable practices.

“You might send it thinking you are getting a certain amount of money. Then you get a check back … and it’s nowhere near what your thought,” she said. “When you call them they say ‘sorry, it’s melted down already’,” Rosenzweig explained.

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Check: Current Price Of Gold

Selling your gold by mail or over the internet is like rolling the dice, according to Pepertsian. He said sellers are much better off doing a transaction in person. “You can look them in the eye,” he said. “If you are not satisfied, you can shop around.”

In Boston, there are several shops near Downtown Crossing that specialize in buying and selling gold all within a few blocks of each other, which makes it easy to compare prices.

You can also try the jewelry shops closest to you. Experts say you should call and get three estimates over the phone then go in person to get estimates.

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Keep in mind that gold buyers need to make a profit, so if gold is trading at $1,300, don’t expect to walk out with that entire amount. You can, however, negotiate what the buyer’s take will be, and you always have the option of taking your business elsewhere. We discovered buyers will often up their first offer if you decide to walk.

Paula Ebben