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Gold record: Price per ounce reaches new high

The bar for gold prices has risen once again. Gold Monday hit a record high at $1,624.30 an ounce. The high price, fueled by global economic uncertainty, has people looking toward their jewelry boxes for a little treasure. "I like to play a game ...

The bar for gold prices has risen once again.

Gold Monday hit a record high at $1,624.30 an ounce. The high price, fueled by global economic uncertainty, has people looking toward their jewelry boxes for a little treasure.

"I like to play a game and ask them what they think it's worth," said Jerry Tollackson, manager of River City Gold & Silver Exchange.

He likes giving people good news, like the woman who came in Monday morning unsure if she wanted to sell a couple of $10 gold pieces. When he told her each was worth between $750 and $800, she quickly said, "Sold."

Tollackson estimates the average ring is about half an ounce. If it's 14 karat gold, it's considered 58.5 percent pure. That means it's a 1/4 -ounce of gold worth about $400.

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This is far from the first gold rush Steve Rose has seen. Gold hit $800 in the 1980s and topped $1,000 in March 2008, the owner of Rose Jewelers said.

"I think a lot of people have sold their stuff," Rose said. "The sad thing is it is continuing to climb."

He suspects it could go as high as $2,000 by year's end.

"I would love to see it stop, but I don't believe it will," Rose said. "Some people are talking about $5,000 (per ounce) gold."

Gold has often seen growth in times of great economic uncertainty because of its liquidity, Rose said.

"Gold is worth something anywhere in the world," Rose said.

As gold has gotten more expensive, jewelers have learned to get more creative. Alternative metals such as cobalt, titanium, palladium and tungsten weren't even offered decades ago but now are seen as much more affordable options, costing about $400 or less for a men's band, Rose said.

Rose estimates a men's gold band that 20 years ago sold for $200 to $300 could go for as much as $1,200 to $1,400 today.

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For those looking for a little quick cash, it might be worth seeing what that broken necklace or old ring is worth.

"Now's the time," said Dan Howes, owner of Howes Diamond Jewelers. "People are pleasantly surprised. I'm surprised, too."

After the gold is bought, it's sent to a refinery and melted to remove other alloys, making it into pure gold that will end up who knows where.

"It's essentially recycling," Howes said.

To see more of the La Crosse Tribune or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.lacrossetribune.com/ .

Copyright (c) 2011, La Crosse Tribune, Wis./Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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