Is It True What They Say About Selling My Old Engagement Ring?

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How far under retail am I going to get? I’ll bet I paid way too much! Jewelry markups are crazy high! If it’s time to consider selling your old diamond engagement ring, please know that everyone starts out uncertain. Selling any kind of used jewelry isn’t easy. Unlike stocks and bonds, there’s no single, organized market you can enter. And unlike real estate, there’s no resource that reports what everything is selling for, and for how much. Fear and doubt rush in to fill such a vacuum of information. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

What do I have? For selling purposes, you don’t have a diamond ring. No, you have a diamond in a ring, and the diamond is where most of the value lies. How well do its weight, shape and quality fit the demand in today’s diamond market? Rounds and cushions are most popular now, followed by ovals. Emerald-cuts over 3.00 carats are hot at the moment. Princess cuts still sell but much less than they did ten or so years ago. Today, the average weight for a center diamond in an engagement ring is about one carat. The most popular colors are in the G to J (near colorless) range. For clarity, it’s VS1 to SI2. The usual cut grade is Excellent, with some at Very Good. Where diamond grading reports are concerned, a very few have AGS reports, but mostly the GIA report is the only game in town. If your diamond is one of the “super-ideal” cuts, this is good in the upper end of the market. If its girdle is laser-inscribed with any well-recognized brand name, such as “Tiffany”, likewise.

What about the mounting? White metal still reigns supreme, usually 14- or 18-karat white gold, but platinum works, too. As for side diamonds, the halo style looks dated, but will eventually be absorbed by the used market, where some buyers are looking as much, or more, for value. Finger size? It should be 5 to 7 for greatest saleability. Back to brand name — is a highly recognized name stamped inside the shank? This can make the difference in how quickly the ring sells, and for how much.

One thing you need to remember. There is no way around it. What you have is a used engagement (or wedding) ring. You cannot get a full retail price for it. Is there a stigma attached to it? Yes, for many people, there is, especially if it is so new-looking as to suggest that it comes from a broken relationship. Many, maybe most, people are unwilling to buy and wear such an item. Still, don’t despair. Just come to terms with the smaller market for it. This means pricing it for what it is — a used piece.

Do I need an appraisal? I hear this request a lot, and I've learned that it means different things to different people. Even though some may say “I need to know what it’s worth,” rarely do they want a formal, professionally rendered appraisal. Usually they mean ”How much should I ask for it?" or "What would you offer me?" The question is about price versus value, about which I’ve written elsewhere, but for now, I”ll just say that I answer it in consultation with Broker's Price Opinions.

Where can I get real offers? Besides my brokerage service, here are some of the options I lay out in consultation:

  • Private buyers, including relatives, friends, and co-workers, or found online.

  • Local retail jewelers, antique dealers and pawn shops, either by outright purchase or consignment.

  • Local estate liquidators.

  • Online services, either outright buyers or consignment.

  • Scrap gold buyers.

Is it all just a shell game, played for peanuts? You can sell your jewelry for a fair price. Just remember, “fair” is defined by its context. You’re not a retailer; your jewelry is used. And consider the final value of any other kind of “stuff:” almost all clothing and appliances, most furniture and art, and, with rare exceptions, tools and vehicles of all kinds. Most of the time, compared to what they originally cost, all these things are thrown away. Remember that knowledge is power, and also money. If you would sell it on your own, you must understand what you have, and be as patient as your situation allows.