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What do pawn shops buy? What to pawn for the most cash in 2022

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A pawn shop may be a quick way to sell your used items for cash — or get an immediate loan to pay bills. If you want to sell stuff, then you will want to know what do pawn shops buy and what the high-demand pawn items are.

What do pawn shops buy? What can you sell at a pawn shop?

If you are wondering what do pawn shops take, tThere are very few things that you cannot sell to a pawn shop — but each pawnbroker decides what they want to buy, or issue a loan against, at any time. Sometimes they may not buy an item because they already have a lot of inventory, or otherwise do not think they can sell it.

However, there are better ways to get the cash you need, fast. It is also private.

Our No. 1 recommendation to sell gold and diamond jewelry, coins, watches, silver and other scrap metal is CashforGoldUSA. This website has:

  • A+ Better Business Bureau rating
  • Pays within 24 hours
  • Accepts all jewelry and precious metals
  • Fox Business News found CashforGoldUSA to pay 3X more for gold than its competitors
  • Complete the entire process online or phone, and via overnight FedEx (no need to leave your house)
  • Door-to-door free shipping, plus free Jewelers’ Mutual insurance up to $100,000 on each shipment
  • CashforGoldUSA's facility insured by Lloyds of London
  • 10% bonus if you send in your item within 7 days
  • 100% guaranteed highest price, and easy, free returns.

Get a free estimate with CashforGoldUSA now >>

This post breaks down the pros and cons of selling to a pawn shop, make sure you don’t get ripped off, as well as better alternatives to get the most cash, safely and quickly — often without leaving your home.

What can you sell at a pawn shop? 10+ things pawn shops always buy:

The following are items that pawnshops almost always buy:

Other things to pawn at a pawn shop for cash or a loan, in some cases:

  • Comic books
  • Porn
  • Clothes
  • Animals — livestock and pets
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles: Cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, scooters, ATV, golf carts

Pawn Star's World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop

Many people have learned about the pawn business from Pawn Stars, a reality TV show about the celebrated pawn shop in Las Vegas, World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn which opened in 1998. Pawn Stars debuted in 2009, and is shown in 150 countries, and dubbed in 38 languages.

What is Pawn Stars' biggest purchase?

On Pawn Stars, the owners bought original sketches of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are for $250,000 — the record for the show.


What is the rarest thing on Pawn Stars?

World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn goes beyond typical low-end merchandise found at most pawnbrokers, and deals in fine art, collectibles, fine jewelry and other valuables.

The owners of the pawn shop also bought these high-end items:

  • 3,000 ounces of silver for $111,000
  • 1932 Lincoln Roadster for $95,000
  • Rare 1922 high-relief dollar for $80,000
  • Mary Ford's 1961 Gibson SG Les Paul guitar for $90,000

Here is a clip of the show in which they purchased JFK's cigar box:

Where to find a “scrap yard near me” to sell scrap metal in 2022

Things to pawn for quick cash

Common items people sell at pawnshops include jewelry, watches and precious metals, firearms, electronics, sports equipment, power tools, and collectibles like trading cards.

33 things to sell to make money from the stuff around your house

What can I pawn for $100?

Jewelry and gold things that pawnshops nearly always buy. Depending on what you own, you may get $100, $1,000 or more for your jewelry, silver coins, gemstones, pearls or raw or scrap gold or silver.

A gun, some power tools, a lawn mower or a quality stereo or laptop computer in working condition may bring $100 or more.

What can I pawn for $500?

Small vehicles like a motorbike, trailer or motorcycle might bring $500, as well as some jewelry. Some nicer antique furniture and firearms could bring $500 or more.

What can I pawn for $1,000?

Again, you can easily pawn gold and diamond jewelry. A used vehicle or boat, HD TV, or a riding lawn mower may bring $1,000 or more.

Keep in mind that a pawnshop will typically offer you far less for your diamond and gold jewelry than an online buyer. CashforGoldUSA promises to pay a 10% bonus if you send in your item within 7 days, free overnight FedEx from your house, and payment within 24 hours.

Are there pawn shops that buy phones?

Yes, if your smart phone is in decent condition and working, many pawnshops will be happy to accept your phone as a pawn or sale — or offer to pay electronic scrap prices for it.

What do pawn shops pay the most money for?

This is a relative question — are you asking what items pawn shops pay the highs margin for (what percentage of profit they earn)? Or the highest ticket items?

Pawn shops may buy a vehicle, jewelry or even a piece of real estate. 

However, higher ticket items, antiques and items of quality will likely fetch a higher price if you sell to a buyer who specializes in those items, and takes a lower fee. These items to pawn could include: jewelry, diamonds, gold, coins, fine watches and timepieces, and designer handbags.

What you should know before pawning jewelry

Have an engagement ring to sell after a nasty divorce? You may consider pawning your ring to a pawn shop near you, although it may be better to sell your jewelry online

Also, instead of pawning old or broken gold jewelry, gold coins, estate and antique jewelry and other scrap metal, online gold buyers may pay more, and be easier to work with. Here is what you need to know about pawning jewelry:

As with other items sold to pawn shops, you will get 25% to 60% of the retail value of your item from the pawn broker. This may be tempting if you really, really need the money very quickly, but there are other ways to get a much higher return on your jewelry — which is likely one of the most valuable things you own.

Pawning vs. selling: Which is best for jewelry?

Pawning jewelry will get you quick cash. But spending just a little more time, and adding a few more days to the process, will likely earn you more money for your jewelry at an online gold or jewelry buyer.

Typically, a pawn shop will offer you 50% cash value of your item. For example, if you have a diamond ring that the pawn shop can resell for $1,000, they will offer you about $500. 

Before you pawn jewelry, consider that precious gemstone grading and pricing is a highly scientific process that should be done by a gemologist with a lab report, or at least a certified jeweler who understands the intricacies of diamonds, and the value of your jewelry — expertise very, very few pawn brokers offer. However, a local jeweler can offer an appraisal, sometimes for free, or for a couple hundred dollars for a detailed report. This less formal process gives you an idea of the quality of your jewelry, and what replacement or resale value may be.

CashforGoldUSA and its sister site, DiamondsUSA, accept diamonds of all sizes.

Both Worthy and CashforGoldUSA will send back your item immediately, 100% free, if you choose not to sell after receiving their offer.

What you should know before pawning gold

If you are thinking about pawning your gold jewelry, gold coins, broken jewelry, dental or other scrap, online gold buyers and recyclers often offer a higher price.

How much a pawn shop will pay for gold depends on lots of factors, including how competitive the pawn market is in your town — the larger the town and more pawn brokers in your area, the more competitive the price a pawn broker is likely to offer.

The price a pawn shop, or any gold buyer, will pay for gold is based on today’s gold price, minus their commission. The price a pawn shop will pay for scrap gold, vs gold jewelry may be the same if they plan to melt down the jewelry for scrap, or a slightly higher price per gram if the pawnshop plans to resell the gold jewelry as-is. Broken jewelry is often bought for scrap, but is sometimes repaired and resold.

For example, if a pawnshop owner assesses your broken gold chain at today’s spot price, and believes he can sell it for scrap for $300, he may take a 30% commission — $90 in this case — and offer you $210. You can always negotiate with a pawnshop.

Gold prices this year exceeded $2,000 for only the second time in 50 years. As of , the gold resale value in the United States was at a near-record price of $ per ounce, or $ per gram.

Pawning vs. selling: Is it better to sell gold online or pawn gold?

An online gold buyer has an advantage over a pawn shop near you for taking a lower commission, and offering you a lower fee:

  • Pawn shops have to pay for retail space, which can be expensive
  • An online gold buyer does huge volumes of gold purchases and sales — which allows them to offer higher prices.
  • Online gold buying is a very competitive business, as these buyers compete with all the gold buyers on the internet — as well as all the local pawnshops and gold buyers. More competition = lower commissions, and higher payout for you.
  • Gold buyers are experts in gold buying, whereas a pawn broker buys and sells items in lots of categories — making it hard to be an expert in any of them.

CashforGoldUSA our #1 recommendation for online gold buyers.

What you should know about pawning a watch

Fine timepieces are a highly specialized category that can require an expert with deep knowledge of the history and marketplace for these sophisticated collectibles to truly understand what your watch is worth.

If you have a lower-end watch, including a smart watch, that you can sell for $50 to $200, pawning your watch may be a good deal.

However, if you have a vintage Rolex, TAG Heuer, Hermes watch, Omega or other watch brands, Worthy works with top New York City watch dealers who can offer a fair price for your timepiece — much more so than most pawnshops.

How much will a pawn shop give you for a Rolex?

The resale value for a used Rolex watch is anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 or more — which a pawn shop will give you 25% to 60%, with an average of 50% of what they think they can sell it for. If yours is a high-end watch, the broker may sell it to a wholesaler, or middleman, which means that your cut will be far less than a retail value. An expert site like Worthy is likely a better bet than pawning your watch.

Pawning vs. selling: Is it better to pawn a watch or sell it?

Pawning jewelry will get you quick cash. But spending just a little more time, and adding a few more days to the process, will likely earn you more money for your jewelry at an online watch or jewelry buyer who understands the value of your timepiece. 

It is usually a better deal to sell your timepiece via an expert site like Worthy than to pawn your watch.

Bottom line on pawning vs selling: Is it better to pawn or sell?

Just like babies, every pawn shop is special. However, you can expect to find a pawn shop is almost always eager to buy these high-demand pawn items:

  • Gold
  • Jewelry
  • Fine watches
  • Guns 
  • Power tools

Pawnshops are a good option if you can work with a reputable business and need very fast cash — or would really prefer to actually get a short-term loan. However, if you are seeking the highest price for your item, selling online is often a better option. In the case of gold, silver, jewelry, diamonds and watches, a sale with CashforGoldUSA is very fast, private, and can bring in a much higher fee than a pawnshop.


What can you sell at a pawn shop?

There are very few things that you cannot sell to a pawn shop, but each pawnbroker decides what they want to buy, or issue a loan against. Sometimes they may not buy an item because they already have a lot of inventory, or otherwise do not think they can sell it.

What can I pawn to get money?

Jewelry and gold is always a go-to item that pawnshops nearly always buy. Depending on what you own, you may get $100, $1,000 or more for your jewelry, coins, gemstones or scrap metal or silver. A gun, some power tools, a lawn mower or a quality stereo or laptop computer in working condition may bring $100 or more.

What do pawn shops buy?

There are very few things that you cannot sell to a pawn shop, but each pawnbroker decides what they want to buy, or issue a loan against, at any time. Sometimes they may not buy an item because they already have a lot of inventory, or otherwise do not think they can sell it. Pawn shops usually buy guns, electronics, gold, jewelry, and phones.

What do pawn shops give the most money for?

Pawn shops may buy a vehicle, jewelry or even a piece of real estate. However, higher ticket items, antiques and items of quality will likely fetch a higher price if you sell to a buyer who specializes in those items, and takes a lower fee.

How much do you get for pawning jewelry?

As with other items sold to pawn shops, you will get 25% to 60% of the retail value of your item from the pawn broker. This may be tempting if you really, really need the money very quickly, but there are other ways to get a much higher return on your jewelry.

Holly Johnson is a financial expert, award-winning writer, and Indiana mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting and travel. Her personal finance articles have been published in the U. S. News, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Life Hacker. Holly is founder of of the family finance resource, ClubThrifty.com, and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. Learn more about Holly here.

One Comment

It’s interesting that the most in-demand items are watches, jewelry, power tools, electronics, and video games. Personally, I have always thought watches and jewelry have the most bang for your buck. My wife and I are wanting to go on a nice vacation this year and I want to pawn some stuff for extra cash. Thanks for the helpful information.

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