How Pawn Shops Avoid Stolen Items

The idea that stolen items end up in pawn shops simply isn’t true anymore. Extensive reporting requirements for every item that comes in is a huge deterrent for thieves. At Empire Loan, everything we receive is meticulously described, photographed and transmitted to a police database. Learn more.

3 Options for Your Broken Jewelry

Broken jewelry – everybody has some, but nobody wants to just throw it away. What can you do with your broken or damaged gold, diamond and silver jewelry? Empire Loan has 3 options you can do with those broken items that have just been sitting in the bottom of your dresser drawer.

  1. Sell it! Broken, damaged or simply stray pieces of old gold and diamond jewelry can be turned into instant cash. Remember the earring that you lost the match to? It’s gone forever. How about the chain or bracelet that got crushed when you were doing yardwork? Of course, there’s also the ring that was mangled by the kitchen garbage disposal. If it’s gold, platinum or silver, Empire Loan will buy it, as is, for cash. Simply bring it in and the Empire Loan experts will test it, weigh it and pay you cash on the spot….no matter what condition it’s in.
  2. Get a short-term loan! Any gold, platinum or diamond jewelry you have, regardless of the condition, may get you a cash loan. If you want to keep that broken ring your great-grandmother handed down to you, Empire Loan will lend you cash based on the value of the gold and diamonds in the ring. Empire Loan holds it safely and securely in their vaults until you repay the loan and take back your valuables. It’s that easy. You never have to sell your precious mementos, they still belong to you. Empire Loan simply lends you money based on the value of the item. It doesn’t matter what condition it is in, so long as it’s gold or platinum. Silver trades for under $20 an ounce so most silver jewelry may not have enough value for a loan, regardless of what you may have paid for it. Grandma’s silver tea set though could weigh enough that you could get a loan from just a few dollars, on up to thousands, depending on the weight.
  3. Fix it! We live in a disposable society. When things wear down or break, we just throw it away and get a new one. Part of the problem is finding somebody who has the ability to fix things properly, particularly with gold and diamond jewelry. It takes a true craftsman to be able to repair a broken chain or pair of earrings. Empire Loan has goldsmiths available to bring your broken jewelry back to life. Even if you’ve just outgrown your ring, Empire Loan’s expert craftsmen can re-size it to fit the way it’s supposed to. We can fix that broken chain, pendant or ring the way it’s supposed to be and it’s like you have bought a new piece of jewelry. Not sure if what you have can be repaired? Bring it into any Empire Loan location and we’ll give you a free assessment and honest appraisal as to whether it can be repaired or not and how much it may cost. Then it’s up to you. Bring your broken jewelry in and see if Empire Loan can make it new again!

There is one other option: just let that broken jewelry sit in the bottom of your drawer collecting dust. But why do that when the other options are so much better!

If you’ve been the victim of a theft, here’s what to do

Pawn Shops are regulated by local, state and federal laws pertaining to loans, purchases and privacy issues. People often think when their property is stolen they simply go to a pawn shop and see if their merchandise is on display there, but it’s really not that simple. Here’s a description of the process and what you should do if your merchandise is stolen.

First, understand that Pawnbrokers and other second hand dealers are generally required to report all transactions they make to local police or authorities. In addition to pawn shops, jewelers and consignment shops that buy gold and silver jewelry and other items are all required to maintain records of transactions and report them to local authorities on a regular basis. This often includes providing pictures and descriptions of all the items they take in, along with a copy of the ID and photos of the person who brought the item in. The pawn shop must then hold the item for a specific period of time, usually a minimum of 30 days, to allow the police time to investigate if the merchandise was part of a crime.

Fairly recently New England law enforcement agencies have centralized this information through NESPIN, New England State Police Information Network, where all six New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) share the information of what has been brought into pawn shops and second hand dealers across the region, allowing local law enforcement the opportunity to search database to see if items brought in were the result of a crime. This database is not available to the public but is accessible to local law enforcement.

As a victim of crime, here’s what you should do:

  1. Call the police. The first step after you discover a theft is to contact the local police where the crime was committed. Police will be able to take the information and conduct an investigation to try and locate your items. They may have knowledge of other crimes in the area and will also be able to review the records kept by other local police departments in surrounding communities to try and locate your items. As mentioned earlier, they can now also review the NESPIN records for all of New England to try and track your merchandise. If they are able to identify any possible items, they will then contact the pawn shop or second hand dealer themselves to verify if they are yours.
  2. If you do find the item, either in police records or on display in a pawn shop or jewelry store, contact the police department where you filed your original report. Only they can request the records of the pawn shop’s transactions. Because of privacy laws, pawn shops are not allowed to give out any information on any customers they have done business with. At Empire Loan, even though we would like to help you recover your merchandise, we are not allowed to tell you how we may have obtained a particular item. Empire Loan will however provide that information to the police or state authorities. Since 1985, Empire Loan has worked effectively with local law enforcement to help people recover their stolen merchandise and we pride ourselves on being cooperative with the authorities.
  3. Contacting local pawn shops directly yourself: Pawn shops do not want to buy or lend money on stolen merchandise. In the end, pawn shops can be the only ones who lose if it turns out they have taken in stolen merchandise. If the merchandise you lost was unique, if you have pictures of it or serial numbers, in the case of electronics, that can help the pawn shop identify the item. Unfortunately it’s not always possible for pawn shops to track details about every item that comes in the door. Empire Loan has 8 stores and does hundreds of transactions in a typical day. This means if you lost a gold wedding band, it would be virtually impossible for us to tell you if somebody came in with one since we could have literally taken in dozens.
  4. Checking in a pawn shops display cases won’t always be very effective. First, as indicated earlier, pawn shops like Empire Loan hold onto merchandise for a minimum of 30 days before doing anything with it. If the item was stolen last week, it would be another 3 weeks before we’d be allowed to sell it. After the 30 days we may melt the item down if it’s gold or silver or sell it online or to a wholesaler if its electronics or a musical instrument. That’s why it’s important to work with the police in trying to locate your items in a timely fashion.
  5. Contact your insurance company. If you have a homeowners policy or renters insurance you may be able to file a claim. While this won’t result in getting your original merchandise back, you may be able to recoup some money to help try and replace the items.

Empire Loan wants to help you recover your merchandise. Hopefully the above information will help you figure out how to do just that. If you have any questions or need any further information, feel free to contact any of Empire Loan’s 8 locations, check our website ( or call us at 800-375-PAWN

October Birthstone(s): Opal and Tourmaline

October is a special month with the changing of the seasons and a choice of two birthstones that come in a wide range of colors; opal and tourmaline.


October Tourmaline GemOctober Tourmaline BirthstoneOctober Tourmaline Birth stone

Tourmaline has become very popular in jewelry due to the wide range of colors it can be found in. There is something for every style and taste. Tourmaline is best known for featuring multiple colors in each gemstone, featuring two, three or more colors in a single gemstone and is known for having the widest range of colors of any gem. The more distinct these color differentiations, the more desirable to stone is. Tourmaline colors ranges from black, blue or dark brown through green, red, pink and yellow. One type of tourmaline is referred to as Watermelon Tourmaline for its green and red color variation in a single stone.

Tourmaline is found all over the world including Afghanistan, Brazil, East Africa in even in the US.


Opal BirthstoneOctober Opal GemstoneOctober Opal Birth Stone October Opal GemOctober Opal Birthstone


The other October birthstone is the opal, from the Greek Opallos, meaning “to see a change (of color)”. Opals also show a wide range of colors from a milky white to black with flashes of yellow, red, green and blue. The 3D reflection within opals is one of the stones finest and most notable features.

The GIA describes opal as: Fireworks, Jellyfish, Galaxies, Lightning with a shifting kaleidoscope of colors unlike any other gem. The most often used term is Play-of Color, which speaks to the floating reflections of light and color or fire in the stones. The five main type of opals are:

  • White or light opal with a translucent color or background
  • Black opal which features a dark or black background (rarest)
  • Fire opal which is brown, yellow orange or red in background color
  • Boulder Opal which is translucent to opaque and where the surrounding rock becomes part of the gem
  • Crystal or Water Opal is transparent to semitransparent with a clear background and shows exceptional play of color.

Get Cash for Tools in Providence

Have Tools and Need Cash? Empire Loan is Here to Help! Cash For Tools

If you need a fast cash loan and have tools, Empire Loan at 1271 North Main Street in Providence can help.

Power tools from manufacturers like DeWalt, Bosch, Porter Cable and other top quality brands can be converted into fast cash loans at Empire Loan in Providence. Our staff will take a look at what the tools in similar condition are selling for second hand online with websites like eBay and Amazon and offer you a cash loan based on a percentage of what they sell for. Customers have brought in tools and gotten pawn loans from Empire for anywhere from $40 or $50 to a few hundred dollars.

Hand tools from major manufacturers also can be used as collateral to get a loan from Empire. Brands like Snap On and Klein are just a couple of the manufacturers that Empire can turn into cash. Complete sets or individual tools all have value.

It’s not just tools that Empire Loan in Providence takes in for loans. Musical instruments including guitars, trumpets, saxophones, flutes and even accessories like amplifiers, pedals and microphones can be converted into cash as can DJ equipment, electronics such as flat screen TV’s, tablets and laptops and even smart phones. Designer hand bags from Coach, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and others that have the proper paperwork can also be used as collateral for a loan from Empire Loan in Providence.

If it has secondhand value, let Empire Loan on North Main Street in Providence turn it into cash!

Recycle Your Jewelry For Earth Day

Earth Day and Recycled JewelryPawn Jewelry Providence

Since 1970, the world has been celebrating Earth Day. This is a time when we demonstrate our support for the protection of the environment. People all over the world have been increasing the amount of recycling of paper and plastics to protect the environment, but people have actually been recycling gold, silver and diamonds for centuries.

Gold and silver are very easy to recycle, being melted and turned into gold and silver bars. These precious metals can also be re-purposed into various electronic devices (cell phones and computers for example) and into beautiful jewelry. There is no degradation in the quality of gold and silver that is recycled and there is no way to examine a piece and determine if it was “freshly mined” or recycled.

When the price of gold started its meteoric rise in 2008, millions of people sold the gold jewelry they had to take advantage of the rise from around $500 an ounce to $1,900 an ounce in under 5 years.  Even silver went along for the ride from around $9 an ounce to almost $50 an ounce. This meant there was plenty of gold and silver (platinum too) being sold and melted down. These precious metals found their way back onto the market as bullion and coins for investors, but also into new electronic devices and of course new jewelry.

The same thing happened with diamonds. As more jewelry was sent to the refineries to be melted down, there was a glut of diamonds that came back onto the market. These diamonds were also recycled for industrial purposes! Because they are so durable, diamonds get a second life being used for cutting and grinding.

Diamonds are also often removed from their settings and re-cut or re-set in different pieces of jewelry. Re-cutting a diamond will help get rid of imperfections in the stone or make them more stylish and modern. Giving a stone new life is exciting, because some diamonds were formed billions of years ago, meaning they pre-date many generations of end users.

Recycling these precious metals and gemstones can also help the environment by limiting the damage that the mining causes. The toxic waste created by the mines as well as the destruction of the lands where they are found can have lasting effects.

This Earth Day, going out to buy gold and diamond jewelry may be one of the best things you can do for the planet.




National Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22.  This annual day is held to demonstrate support for environmental protection.  The concept of Earth Day was established in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco.   On March 21, 1970, a sanctioned Proclamation was signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations.  On April 22, 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day. (


Celebrate National Earth Day by getting engaged in Earth Day activities in your area. Share your Earth Day experiences using #EarthDay on Social Media.


National Earth Day is not considered a National holiday at National Day Calendar.  However, we encourage you to learn more about this important day at  HAPPY EARTH DAY!


Pawning in Providence

Pawn Shop in ProvidencePawning in Providence

Times have changed at pawn shops in Providence. At Empire Loan on Broad St. and North Main St. in Providence the majority of customers still come in and get cash loans for their gold and diamond jewelry but over the past year or so, more and more customers have gotten cash for tools, cash for electronics and in particular, cash for guitars and musical instruments.

The two Empire Loan stores in Providence are very different; Broad St. is Empire’s original Providence store having opened in 1989. It’s smaller and as a result does not have the space to store some of these larger items. Empire’s North Main St. location is much larger and has an added benefit; that store is connected to Empire Guitars, a large old school guitar store that features dozens of amps, pedals and accessories along with an amazing collection of guitars that range from entry level acoustic guitars to classic and collectible guitars that are valued at tens of thousands of dollars. This means they have experts on site that are able to assess and appraise your instrument and get you the most cash for your gear.

When it comes to electronics, Empire Loan in Providence will appraise whatever you have and based on a percentage of what the items sell for used, they can offer you cash buys and loans that will help you when you need it most. Some of the electronics people are pawning in Rhode Island include flat screen TV’s, laptops, smart phones, digital cameras and tablets. Many of today’s hottest gadgets can get people the cash they need with a pawn loan from Empire.

Getting cash for tools in Providence has been a growth category too. Through the years, homeowners have taken on more and more do-it-yourself projects and they have the tools to get the job done right. Instead of letting it just sit on the shelf in the garage collecting dust, Empire Loan is finding more and more customer coming in with those tools to get cash. Drills, sanders, circular saws and more can be converted into a fast cash loan at Empire Loan’s North Main St. location.

Empire Loan in Providence can get you cash for tools, cash for electronics, cash for guitars and cash for all the things you need cash for.

Get April’s Birthstone at Our Providence Pawn Shops

April Birthstone: Diamond

The birthstone for the month of April is diamond. Quite simply, diamonds are some of the most prized gemstones and represent many things to many people: love & commitment, prosperity & class, bling & flash. Anybody with the diamond as their birthstone would most likely appreciate any type of jewelry but it’s important to know how to select the right one. Mostly referred to as the “4 C’s”, here’s how diamonds are graded and rated

Cut: The cut of the diamond is simply the shape of the stone and the number and quality of the facets. The most widely used shape is the round brilliant cut which highlights the facets and cuts of the stone better than most. That’s because diamonds are cut to allow light in and then reflect outward, creating a sparkling appearance. There are many other shapes with their own unique qualities; emerald cut,  princess, marquis, heart shaped, pear and even triangle shaped diamonds referred to as trillion. While round brilliant cuts are the most popular, an expert diamond cutter can use their skills to highlight the best aspects of each individual stone and mask or hide the diamonds imperfections.

Diamonds Pawn Shop in Providence

Color: A better way to think of the color of a diamond may be to describe it as lack of color since diamonds should really be transparent or colorless. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the foremost authority of gemstones, uses a D-to-Z diamond color-grading system that measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to determine the stones color. This is one of the most difficult things for a consumer to determine without some knowledge of what they may be looking at, but any diamond in the colorless to nearly colorless category is considered to be a more desirable stone.

Diamond Scale Pawn Shops in Providence

Clarity: Diamonds are created after thousands of years underground, essentially from carbon. This means they often have imperfections in the stone such as carbon spots, bubbles and other imperfections that may not be visible to the naked eye, but are referred to as inclusions. Professionals will use a 10X magnification loupe and even a microscope at times to locate and plot these flaws.  The GIA grades diamonds on a scale that starts at Flawless/Internally Flawless where even under a microscope, there are no visible signs of imperfections. From there, the scale moves to VVS 1 or 2 (which stands for Very Very Slight Inclusion) where under a microscope there may be slightly visible imperfections, to VS 1 or 2 (Very Slight Inclusion) where under 10X magnification, there may be some slightly visible inclusions, to SI 1, 2 or 3 (Slight Included) where under 10X there will be visible imperfections that may also be visible to the naked eye. Finally the chart goes to I 1, 2 or 3 (Included) where the imperfections are multiple and visible to the naked eye. As the chart indicates, with each step down the scale, the imperfections in the stone become more visible and the value of the diamond goes down as well.

Diamonds Pawn Shop in Providence

Carat: The Carat weight of a diamond is different than the Karat or fineness of gold and represents the “size” or weight of a diamond or gemstone. While a diamond needs to be removed from its setting in order to determine its exact weight, many professionals are able to fairly accurately gauge the size of a diamond or gemstone based on the size of the stone as measured in millimeters (mm). Diamonds carat is expressed in points and carats with 100 points equaling 1 carat. So a ¼ carat diamond is actually 25 points or .25CT while a ½ carat diamond is 50 points or .50CT and so on. You may also hear the term “total carat weight” or CTTW. This involves combining the carat weight of several diamonds in one setting and totaling their individual weight. For example, a diamond wedding band with 4 stones that are each a quarter of a carat or .25CT each will add up to one carat or 1.0CTTW. Remember though, the value of one 1.0CT diamond is much more valuable than 4smaller diamonds that total 1.0CTTW.

Always remember the 4 C’s and you’ll be shining in the glow of April’s birthstone.



What Can I Pawn?

What can I pawn?

Need cash from a pawn shop and don’t know if what you have will get you what you need? Here’s a quick list of what a pawn shop like Empire Loan takes:

Gold & Diamond jewelry (and platinum too): Empire Loan offers cash loans based on the scrap value of gold and platinum jewelry and a small percentage of the wholesale value of any diamonds. The expert staff at Empire will be able to test and weigh your items and determine what they can offer you in the form of a loan or a buy. You may be surprised at how much your plain gold wedding band might be worth.

Flat Screen TV’s: The world of TV’s keeps changing so Empire Loan uses websites like eBay and Amazon to determine what a particular model of TV is selling for used and will offer a percentage of that for a buy or a loan. If you bought your TV within the past year for around $1,000 new, it might be selling for half that amount used now. Empire Loan would offer you between 20% and 30% of that used resale value for a buy or a loan based on things like condition, if you have the original remote and which particular brand it is.

Smart Phone: Empire Loan offers buys and loans on the used resale value of smartphones too. Based on the brand, model number, features and condition, Empire Loan looks at which wireless company the phone is tied to as well as making sure no money is owed. Once everything checks out, Empire will offer you a cash loan based on a percentage of the used resale value of the phone.

Miscellaneous Electronics: Empire Loan can help you turn your electronics into a cash loan. Electronics like laptops, tablets digital cameras game systems, just about any current device that is in good working condition and has a strong resale value can get you a cash loan based on a percentage of the used resale selling price on websites like eBay and Amazon.

Tools: Empire Loan does offer buys and loans on tools of all kinds.  From hand tools like wrenches, ratchets and sets of screw drivers from high end manufacturers like Snap On, Klein, Craftsman and others are items Empire may make offers on, again,  based on a percentage of what they are selling for used online. The same thing applies to power tools like drills, impact drivers, saws and others.  As long as the tools are in good working condition, Empire Loan will make offers based on a percentage of what they sell for used on respected websites.

Musical Instruments: The most popular instrument to get a loan from a pawn shop on is an acoustic or electric guitar. As always, the amount you can borrow is based on the particular make and model instrument you have, with American made guitars usually being the most valuable ones. Condition is extremely important and we do require that you have a case in order for us to be able to store your guitar safely. One unique requirement that Empire Loan owner Michael Goldstein has asked is that you know how to play it. The purpose of this is to show that it works properly but it also indicates ownership. Empire Loan also offers loans on saxophones, trumpets, amplifiers, keyboards and a wide range of musical instruments.

What do you have? During over 30 years of business, Empire Loan has offered loans from as little as $26 to over $26,000. Customers have brought in: Specialized tools, high car rims, DJ equipment, collectables, golf clubs and even a horse saddle. Our staff is trained to appraise a wide variety of items that our customers look to get fast cash for. Have a question? Give Empire Loan a call and we’d be happy to answer it for you.

At Empire Loan, it’s that easy!

Pawn Your TV at Empire Loan

Chances are you went out and bought a large flat screen TV to grace your home, and you spent big bucks for it at one of those big box retailers. If you want to turn it into a fast cash loan, or sell it to get yourself a newer model, Empire Loan may be just the place to do that. Here’s how:

Empire Loan offers customers cash loans and purchases of their old flat screen TV’s based on a percentage of their second hand selling price on websites like eBay and Amazon. Simply call your local Empire Loan store with the brand and model number of the TV you have and our staff can usually let you know right over the phone what they might be able to offer you. They’ll look it up on line and if they find that it recently sold used for $500, Empire could buy it or offer you a loan of $100 to $150 or more based on what you have with it and what condition it is in. This could be a great start on paying for your new TV!

Recently we had a customer bring in his TV to get a loan so he would have the cash to buy one that was selling at a deep discount during one big box retailer’s Black Friday sale. After he bought the new TV he returned just after the holidays and picked up his original TV.

If you’re in the market for a new TV and just need to make space, Empire may buy your old TV for cash based on condition and what it’s selling for second hand. Either way, you win.

When you bring your TV into one of Empire’s stores the staff will check it out and see how much they can offer you. You walk out with cash and Empire safely and securely stores your TV until you come back. It’s that easy.

One more thing: If you are looking to buy a  new TV, Empire Loan is the place to go. All of the TV’s that are brought in are held for a short period of time, cleaned up and tested and then put out for sale at a fraction of the prices charged by those big box retailers. From a 15” table top TV on us to 60” or more, Empire Loan has a constant flow of flat screen TV’s to choose from. But one piece of advice for you is; if you like what you see, buy it because it won’t be around for long.