Michael Ayres is the Valuations Manager for H&T’s pawnbroker loans service. Here, he discusses the factors that determine an item’s value, and what you should consider before taking an item to be pawned.
Most modern pawnbrokers can offer two services: traditional pawnbroking loans — where you pledge an item to raise money over a suitable term, usually six months — or you can just sell the item. Taking out one of these loans involves owning something valuable, such as a watch or a normal everyday piece of jewellery, as security. The shop will value your item and give you a quote for how much you can borrow. Within the specified loan period, you’ll need to pay the money back (with interest) and, once you’ve paid in full, you’ll get your item back.
It’s a fast and easy way to get a loan, and the lending decision is not based on your credit score or history, which is why pawnbroking helped around 350,000 customers in 2018, according to the Financial Conduct Authority.
It’s still an incredibly popular way of borrowing money. But, if you’re thinking of getting a pawnbroking loan, it’s wise to know approximately how much your item is worth in order to work out how much you can expect to borrow. Below, I’ll be going through the ways a pawnbroker will value your assets, and the points you need to bear in mind before exchanging an item for a loan.
Selecting your asset
The most commonly pawned items are jewellery and watches — especially watches from big names like Rolex — as these assets often retain and even appreciate in value. However, a lot of pawnbrokers will also accept other valuable assets such as designer handbags, art, and gold.
Determining the value
The value of your item can vary depending on its condition and authenticity. Before taking your item to a shop, you can estimate its worth by checking online marketplaces, such as eBay, which can provide a good reference point so you know how much an item like yours can sell for.
Once you’ve taken it to a shop, your pawnbroker will examine the item to determine its value.
For jewellery, they’ll usually take a look at the materials used in the piece. A higher percentage of precious metals, like gold, can boost its value. Pawnbrokers will also take into
consideration the carat of the gold of any jewellery and the clarity of any diamonds.
If it’s showing little sign of wear and tear it can generally be more valuable. Try to avoid pawning items which have been personalised or engraved — pawnbrokers tend to offer a low amount for these, as they’re a lot harder to sell on.
For assets with big names behind them, such as Rolex watches and designer handbags, your pawnbroker will check the authenticity of the item. Fakes will be worth very little, but a real version can be worth quite a bit of money. So, they’ll often check for hallmarks, serial numbers, or any other qualities that can identify the authenticity of your asset. If you’d like to check your item for hallmarks yourself, take a look at the Assay Office London’s guide to UK hallmarks.
If you’ve done your own research, you might have an approximate loan amount in your head, but don’t be surprised if you get offered less. A pawnbroker will value your item based on its second-hand market value. They’ll usually have access to data from online sales and auctions to make a decision, and their information is more complex and accurate than the data you can find online. So, the price they offer may vary from the amount you had in mind.
It’s also worth remembering that a pawnbroker will only offer you a percentage of the item’s value as a loan. This percentage can vary depending on the individual pawnbroker, the rarity and condition of the item, and how much it could be sold for.
Taking out a pawnbroking loans can be a great way to borrow money. By following the tips in this guide, you can make a more informed choice when picking out an asset.