A lot of people are hurting financially because of the coronavirus pandemic, and some have turned to pawn shops, jewelry stores and gold sellers for some fast cash. Those buyers say fake jewelry is very common.
"You know, 'Wait a second, my diamond ring isn't a diamond?' " said CashCo Pawn's Moris Adato. "Yeah, it's happened."
Adato said that a lot of people try to sell their jewelry, only to find out it's not valuable.
"Every day we have people come inside saying, 'Hey, this guy sold me this chain,' " Adato said. "99.9 percent of the time it's fake."
The fake jewelry isn't just found at yard sales or auctions, Adato said. Sometimes it's even a family heirloom.
"Every single year it gets better," Adato said. "The fakes get better and better, harder and harder to tell."
Usually, people are just pawning their items to get some quick cash temporarily, but Adato said that many people are selling it outright these days.
"My employees are so good at seeing these things on a daily basis -- the not-so-good fakes, the day-to-day fakes -- they can tell right away," Adato said.
There are a few ways to make sure jewelry is real.
"Take a piece of jewelry and rub on it to heat it up, then smell your fingers," Adato said. "If it smells like the change in your pocket, like lead or nickel -- well, that's exactly what it is."
Adato said real gold will not have an odor. Also, older fake jewelry is usually attracted to a magnet, while gold is not. Consumers should also look at the piece for some type of stamp or message inside a ring that may show whether it is gold-plated or gold. Adato said his shop uses acid to test the purity of the gold used in an item.
"If someone wants to sell you gold, meet where you can have it tested," Adato said. "That would be a jewelry shop or a pawn shop."
While some people are trying to run a scam, Adato said many people are just confused by costume jewelry or cheap pieces designed to look expensive. Still, he recommends not buying jewelry from someone on the street. The most frequently fake items are chains and bracelets.
"They may pull on the heartstrings a little bit," Adato said. "What's $20, what's $200 for a big gold chain? Then you get ripped off."