Here’s an awesome tip, complete with pictures, sent in from one of my readers. My reader wanted an easy way to determine if an item is gold or silver. What could be faster than using a handy magnet to weed out the precious metal pieces? The only problem using a magnet at a secondhand sale is drawing attention to himself, so he constructed a simple ring magnet to use during his treasure hunting adventures. He wears the ring while searching for precious metal items at yard sales and flea markets.
Top of the magnet ring.
Bottom of the magnet ring.
Here's how he does it. He keeps the magnet ring in his pocket until he arrives at the sale. Then, he slips it on his finger and enters the sale location. When he arrives at the jewelry table, he passes his hand over the items in question, one at a time. If they are drawn to the magnet, then it isn't a precious metal item and he doesn't waste his time searching for a marking. If it is a big item, he holds it in his other hand and puts the magnet (his other hand), up to the item. He can feel if there is a strong magnetic attraction or not. If there is no magnetic attraction, he inspects the item closer for any marks. Keep in mind, if it is a big item and the magnet isn't controlled, then there is a loud clank when the magnet hits the item. Have fun explaining that clank to people near by. Once he is done, he slips the magnet ring off his finger in his pocket, while getting his money out to pay for the items. Women can use their purse to drop the magnet ring off their finger, while getting their money out.
Unless you want to draw attention to yourself at these sales, he suggests practicing at home to get the hang of your magnet ring (how it behaves).
Magnet ring in action.
Here's a word of warning: don't slip the magnet ring off your hand and put it in pocket or purse, until you are getting your money out to pay. If you do, it looks suspicious (as if you are stealing an item from the sale), so don't put it in your pocket or purse until you're getting your money out to pay for your items.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting,
Author of "Cheap Gold and Silver"