More people are selling bling to pay bills

Last Thursday, a woman walked into The Jewelry Stop at Carmel Commons Shopping Center in Charlotte and gave owner Stan Greenberg a handful of sterling silver rings and earrings.

She said she needed to put gas in her car, he recalled.

These days, one of every four people who come to his shop looking to sell gold and silver jewelry are doing so because “they need the cash to make it through the week or month,” Greenberg says.

It's a trend that started at the end of February, he said, “but it's been increasing more and more daily.”

The woman was given about $15 for her jewelry, which will be sold for scrap. Other customers who have brought more valuable metals, such as gold, have walked away with a couple hundred bucks or more, he says.

As the owner of an independent jewelry store, Greenberg is feeling an economic pinch, too. Sales are normally strong in May, thanks to Mother's Day, school graduations, confirmations and anniversaries, he said. Not this year.

Sales dropped a surprising 25 percent for Mother's Day, he said. Customers are forgoing treasures, such as a pair of earrings, for themselves. Others are choosing cheaper engagement rings.

The increase in people bringing in jewelry to sell is helping buoy revenues. More customers are also bringing in pieces, such as bracelets and watches, for repairs instead of buying new jewelry.

“If they get a little more mileage out of a piece, if they can patch it up for $15, then why not?” Kerry Hall