Advice for selling a ring
November 3, 2005 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Ah, the divorce aftermath. I'm looking to get a decent price for my diamond engagement ring. (3/4 karat, about $5K retail)I don't want to eBay it. Any suggestions on getting the best value for reselling? How can I really figure out what its worth?
posted by mad_little_monkey to Shopping (14 answers total)
I tried shopping around a ring. I think your best bet is to look at having a local jeweller melt down the gold and create a new brooch or pendant.
posted by acoutu at 6:22 PM on November 3, 2005

Yeah, I did the same as acoutu, and decided to have my diamond reset as a pendant rather than sell it for a tiny fraction of what it's worth.
posted by scody at 6:26 PM on November 3, 2005

First, you're not going to get a good deal on it. Retail markup is ridiculous, getting $2,000 out of that ring would be a remarkable deal to say the least.

When I worked at a pawn shop, I noticed that our ballpark offer was around 10-15% of retail. Needless to say, not a good idea for selling. Even after a nice markup, our price was never even close to 50% of retail, and we were a large chain that could afford to hold or shuffle jewelry.

If you know anyone in the market for a diamond ring, that's likely your best bet. No middleman means you get as much as you can for it. Of course, that can be pretty tough.

I can understand why you don't want to do eBay. You could consider the idea with escrow if security is your only worry. Escrow is relatively cheap, especially for the security offered for larger price items. There's other person-to-person contacts such as Craigslist, but that's also insecure, often for other reasons.

Generally, if you bought a ring at retail price, you're out of luck. You could have it appraised by a professional, but you're still unlikely to get such a price unless you know someone who wants a ring. Many non-chain jewelry stores can offer a quality appraisal for a low fee. Some may be willing to purchase from you, but don't expect top dollar. They're in it for profit, after all.

Melting the ring and resetting the diamond in a new ring would be an idea, especially if you think you'll make use of it. If there's sentimental reason to get rid of it all, prepare for reverse sticker shock.
posted by Saydur at 6:34 PM on November 3, 2005

related question, is there a reason people dont buy rings 2nd hand that often? I mean if you can save atleast 50 percent and if its an engagement ring then noone but you knows where it came from whats the problem?
posted by Iax at 6:36 PM on November 3, 2005

Maybe they're afraid it'll be a fake, Iax? That'd make me nervous.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:13 PM on November 3, 2005 [1 favorite]

Iax, the problem is that most to-be-brides would be surprised to find out that there's no warrant or service plan. Granted, the groom could just say he (or she, to reflect these times) doesn't want to say where the ring came from and then cough up to have it inspected every 6 months.

Mad LIttle Monkey, maybe you could, as I suggested, have the ring turned into something else and then, if you really don't want it in your possession, give it to a long distance relative or friend for a gift. Then you don't have to see it.

You might also consider seeing if there's a local charity that will take the ring. If you could get it appraised (cost me $25) and then donate it to a charity (maybe to auction off?), you could get a receipt for tax purposes. Then you can write it off. It might save you more in taxes than you'd get from selling the ring, given resale woes. And, if the charity can only auction it for $100 or $1000, they still have more money than they started with.
posted by acoutu at 8:13 PM on November 3, 2005

The Atlantic ran an article about this some time ago: Have You Ever Tried To Sell A Diamond? It's now subscriber-only and Bugmenot appears to be down, but The Straight Dope has another.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:48 PM on November 3, 2005

Why would a piece of inert metal and stone need to be inspected every 6 months?

(Also somewhat aghast that there are so many diamond rings out there that can't be resold for a decent fraction of the purchase price)
posted by sirion at 9:10 PM on November 3, 2005

Why would a piece of inert metal and stone need to be inspected every 6 months?

Because it's attached to a hand and sees constant wear and tear, and you don't want it to accidentally become a piece of inert metal sans stone.
posted by mendel at 9:29 PM on November 3, 2005

Yes, but if it gets lost, it's dead easy to get another one. You can afford the risk if you buy them at the pawnshop.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:56 PM on November 3, 2005

And come to think of it, pawnshop + goldsmith = reconditioned ring with original stone. That might make it possible to get a custom design based on simple modifications to the original.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:57 PM on November 3, 2005

Just as an added note regarding some other things brought up here.

Secondhand rings aren't as "romantic". Part of the gift is blowing a huge wad of money on one's significant other, it makes them feel special and wanted, or something like that. Most people couldn't care less about slave conditions in the diamond industry, they just know that spending big amounts of money just has to mean true love forever.

Inspecting a ring- Any secondhand ring should be impartially tested to be real upon purchase. After all, not everyone is ethical. Beyond that, there's issues such as 22-24 karat gold being fairly fragile, and diamonds are remarkably prone to chipping. They're very hard, but they chip very easily.

The markup is mostly due to the DeBeers diamond cartel. The supply is limited and controlled, so the price is whatever people will pay. However, "new" rings and diamonds are considered a lot more valuable. Sort of how a car can lose half of its value in one day off the lot, but without any logic behind it.

If you can turn it into a tax writeoff, get an appraisal first. Do this, and you can get a receipt. Depending on your tax situation, you very well could come out as well as if you sold the ring under suboptimal conditions, not to mention being able to support a worthy charity. I was afraid that such a "donation" might be ineligible, but that is definitely something to consider. Ask about it first though, and make sure you get an apprasial and a receipt. If you can write off the retail value, you just might look forward to April 15 for once.

Finally, to those interested in purchasing rings. The pawnshop I worked at was a minor chain. We held to stricter standards regarding jewelry than most, it's best to confirm the authenticity of the jewelry before purchase. As well, haggle. Do not be embarassed to do this, the markup is generous enough that profit is profit. If you go into a big name jewelry store with $200, they'll shuffle you right over to the 10k clearance rack and show little interest. At a pawn shop, someone will take a few minutes to show you some nicer looking rings, even if the diamonds are a bit small.

A little consumer savvy goes a very long way. I'll never buy jewelry from a professional retailer any longer, my business with jewellers will be professionals who can provide real services.
posted by Saydur at 10:44 PM on November 3, 2005

There's also one other option. Was the ring purchased from a chain/mall store like Hannoush? Some of those places will take the ring at purchase value and apply it to one of their other overpriced rings. That way, you at least don't have to own the "failed engagement" ring anymore.

As others have pointed out though, if you're looking to get cash from the sale, prepare to get very little. Diamond rings are not investments. $5K for a ring with a single 3/4 stone is also a very high estimate. I paid a lot less than that for a three stone ring (a .90 and two .45 stones) and they were almost defect free, very white. If the ring was worn for any period of time, the stone could be scratched or chipped (diamonds can get damaged), which means it's worth a lot less. It's also why you should never buy "investment" grade diamonds for a ring to be worn often.

Either trade it up, or repurpose it.
posted by inthe80s at 7:47 AM on November 4, 2005

If the new-ring logic is that a huge wad of money = true love, which is better: $5000 on a new 3/4 diamond ring or $5000 on an old much higher quality ring?
posted by sirion at 10:13 AM on November 4, 2005

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