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Golden gatherings
Women taking a shine to precious metal parties
Gold 3 WEB
Gold party host Kim Harrison, right, looks over the shoulder of her mother, Linda Comozzle, as she separates her gold into piles. - photo by Jennifer Sami

Every night for the next month Sandi Staiti will be at a different party. It's all in a day's work for the Forsyth County resident, who is a gold party specialist.

For several months, Staiti has gone from house to house buying broken and unwanted gold. Gold parties are much like their Tupperware brethren. Instead of buying products, though, partygoers sell their gold.

"I don't like to go to parties where I feel forced to buy something that I really don't need," said Kim Harrison, who was host of a gold party on a recent night in her Forsyth home. "This is a no-brainer because people come, they have fun, they get together as friends and they make easy money."

While the hosts of product parties typically receive free merchandise, gold party hosts receive 10 percent of all gold Staiti buys.

The purchase price depends on the closing price of gold the day of the party. Staiti uses her digital tester to determine the gold's purity, or in some cases, if it's real.

Once the gold is divided by karat into separate bowls, Staiti weighs each pile separately and calculates the value.

Many of the 15 women who attended Monday's party walked away with $100 or $200. Each took a turn selling single earrings once belonging to a set, broken chains, outdated trends or unwanted jewelry.

At one party, Staiti said a woman brought in a sandwich bag of gold that she ended up buying for $1,100. Another woman, she said, had one piece, originally thought to be costume jewelry, worth $300.

Staiti sends gold she buys to a smelter with whom she works directly. Through the smelter, the gold is chemically treated to remove impurities, creating pure gold bullions.  

Staiti buys platinum and real gold, ranging from 6 to 24 karats.

Though she's able to test for costume and gold-plated jewelry, there still is a risk involved, Staiti said. If gold is $1,000 per ounce on the day of a party, and drops when the smelter receives it the next day, Staiti can take a loss.

"That's the risk I'm taking," she said, adding she can also make a mistake. "If you say something is gold ... when it gets to the smelter, they kick it out and send it back to you if it's not."

Staiti first learned about gold parties when she was invited to attend one. Intrigued, it wasn't long before she had her own gold-testing materials and had been trained by January Thomas, founder of My Gold Party.

Staiti started at parties held by friends. Word of mouth spread and she's now booked solid through mid-November.
"What else can you do and be around fun people and leave where everyone's happy," she said.

Despite the descent of the U.S. dollar, gold continues to increase in value. Gold is considered a solid investment, though to many at Monday's party it's popularity has waned in jewelry.

"I hardly wear gold anymore," said Tara Doyle. "It's jewelry that I've had for 20 years that's just sat in a jewelry box. I didn't wear it, I didn't miss it."

Doyle, who received $192 for her items, said she didn't expect it to be worth that much.

"I thought this was the coolest idea ever."