Got gold? Why TV ad men want yours

The TV ad may be memorable for its absurdity. A cash-strapped wife looks on as her husband, dripping gold jewelry, suddenly drops dead at the kitchen table. Next, a slumbering granny yawns, exposing a row of glinting golden teeth – and a relative arrives with pliers.

The scenarios are morbid, but the ad’s message is clear: Misfortune has its opportunity. Make that moneymaking opportunity.

As the recession deepens and a strapped middle class looks for ways to restore a little girth to its pocketbooks, ads for a slew of firms offering top dollar for unused jewelry are blanketing the airwaves. They are a visible sign of a confluence of trends that is making the precious metal brokerage industry, increasingly, a profitable one.