The New Gold Rush - TheStreet

Let's just call it the new gold rush. Cash-strapped consumers in America and abroad are scrounging for scraps of gold to sell this holiday season.

A couple years ago, a new phenomenon emerged called the gold party (which the Wall Street Journal cleverly dubs this decade's version of the classic Tupperware party). Essentially, it's a house party organized and promoted by small gold party companies. Each person who attends is expected to bring scraps of gold from old jewelery they may have lying around the house. Their gold is then weighed and valued at the party by a specialist from the company, and the guests get to leave with a handsome check at the end of the night. Meanwhile, the person who hosts the party usually ends up with about 10 percent of the total proceeds.

These parties have exploded in popularity because gold prices continue to soar well above $1,000 an ounce. Web sites like FastCashGoldParties and MyGoldParty promise to make you a pretty penny and help you have a fun night.

It may sound like easy money, but some experts have cautioned against this practice. A spokeswoman for Connecticut's Department of Consumer Protection told the Wall Street Journal that these parties are very open to fraud because "your guard is down" and you "assume the person taking your jewelry has been checked out." The problem is that many people attending these parties may not know the true market price of gold.

Still, in this poor economy, people will do almost anything to make easy money. As strange as the gold parties are, they pale in comparison to an emerging phenomenon across the Atlantic.

Hundreds of people in the U.K. have started selling their gold braces for cash, according to the Telegraph. In the past, patients would return the braces as soon as they no longer need them, and the materials would be recycled to use for future patients. Recently, however, several dentists have reportedly been asked the semi-awkward question, "Can I keep these?"

Perhaps the best thing we can say about this new gold trend is that people are learning to make the most of what they already have. Just remember, next time you buy a gold bauble for a loved one, it may have once been in someone's mouth.

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