Oftentimes a public parking lot is used as a common meeting area for people completing Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji sales transactions. You should be wary, however, of people trying to sell you things unsolicited. If an offer seems like it is too good to be true, it probably is.
Just recently, a customer came into my shop holding a few pieces of jewellery, telling me that he had purchased two gold chains and a ring from a nice couple in the FreshCo parking lot. He was hoping we would test them for him and verify their karat. My heart sank as soon as he handed them to me.
Gold has very unique properties, being a soft, malleable, corrosion resistant, and ductile metal. When you touch gold it has a certain feel to it; smooth, warming and almost velvety at times. It's a soft yellow in colour with elements of red and copper, and pleasing to the eye with a sort of glow.
When I held his new jewellery in my hands, there was a hard, steel feel to the pieces. The sound they made when they rubbed against each other was very unpleasant, like an irritating metal on metal sound, and they had a bright yellow colour that was almost offensive to the eye. Before I even began the testing, I knew they were not real gold.
I have been buying and selling gold for twenty years; nine times out of ten, I can tell the difference between a gold chain and a fake just by looking at the piece. I once had an employee who said she could smell fake gold. I'm not sure if there is any science to back up that claim, but Bernice swore she could. Personally, I use a standard jewellers' loupe and can usually spot colour discrepancies or defects such as pitting. A strong earth magnet also helps with verification as gold is not magnetic. If the jewellery passes my first few tests, I also have two different types of acid tests that will tell me what karat of gold the piece is.
Unfortunately, the testing confirmed what I already knew, and I had to inform John that the jewellery he had purchased in a grocery store parking lot was fake. He was out $200 and was visibly upset. Using the next few minutes to vent, he told me the sob story he had been duped with; that the couple needed money to help their daughter but that they didn't have any cash, only their jewellery. Too angry to take it with him, he told me to toss the fake gold in the garbage as he left the store. I felt for the guy and thought I'd try to find a buyer for the jewellery and hopefully get John some of his money back.
Fast forward to about a month later and a gentleman was in buying a used saw from me. He mentioned that he needed a chain for his son but that he didn't want to spend too much money. I had an “ah ha!” moment and asked if he would be okay with a fake gold chain. He said he wouldn't mind as his kid is pretty rough with his things. I showed him the two chains that John had brought me and the gentleman ended up buying both of them for $50.
I called John up later that day to let him know what had happened and he was very pleased to hear from me. He was chagrined at how gullible he had been to buy the jewellery in the first place, but happy to be getting some of his money back. I'm still hoping to sell the ring and get him a little bit more.
If ever someone tries to sell you something in a parking lot, I hope you remember this cautionary tale and walk away knowing that it is probably not the great deal it seems it might be.
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