How to Sell an Engagement Ring

Selling an engagement ring is not just a transaction; it's often a journey full of emotion and complexity. Whether due to a breakup, a change in financial circumstances, or simply a desire for a different engagement ring, the decision to part ways with a symbol of commitment requires sensitivity and careful consideration. And we wanted to clear up some misleading information that exists about this endeavor and provide actionable advice to make the process more realistic and transparent.

Misconceptions About Selling an Engagement Ring

There's no shortage of advice on how to sell an engagement ring, with various sources offering tips and strategies. However, it's essential to approach this subject with subtlety and a deep understanding of the nuances involved. One widely-cited resource on the topic is an article by Brides magazine, which suggests that used engagement rings can sell for 40-70% of their original value. While this may seem promising at first glance, it's important to delve deeper and examine the factors that can significantly impact the resale value.

First and foremost, the value of an engagement ring is heavily influenced by the purchase date and characteristics of the center stone. For instance, a ring featuring a high quality 3-carat natural diamond purchased two decades ago likely has gone up in value, whereas the same diamond purchased one year ago would be subjected to a much higher proportion of sales commission cost (since it has not had the benefit of price appreciation). The shape is also an important factor - whereas the round diamond market is fairly liquid, unique shapes such as heart shaped diamonds could take a long time to find a buyer. Market price fluctuations, changes in consumer preferences, and the overall condition of the ring can all affect its resale value.

The setting of the ring is the next component in determining its worth. Branded jewelry (ie. Van Cleef, Cartier, etc) typically command a higher resale value, but their original purchase cost is also much higher.. Unique designs could take longer to find a buyer, but could also command a premium since they have less competition. If you are selling to a pawn shop or a dealer who may not be willing to gamble on an intricate design, they might value your setting as scrap metal and disregard the extra labor that went into creating your design. Finally, the condition of your setting is paramount in determining the salability of your ring.  

While selling a diamond engagement ring is a feasible process, it’s important to acknowledge that blanket statements of being able to recoup 40-70% of the original value is too dependent on individual circumstances to be true. Let’s get into some examples of how this could look and share our best advice for approaching the endeavor of selling your engagement ring.

The Reality of Selling an Engagement Ring

Understanding the Value of the Center Stone

The center stone of an engagement ring is often its most valuable component and serves as the focal point of its allure. When assessing the potential resale value of a ring, it's crucial to consider the quality, characteristics, and market demand for that stone.

An article published by the Chicago Tribune in December of 1990 made the following observation about the price history of a one carat flawless natural diamond:

“In 1970 that diamond cost $1,600, but in 1980 escalated to $62,000 because it was viewed as an inflation hedge. By 1981 it had deflated to $45,000, before dropping to $26,000 in 1982 and $13,000 in 1983. After bottoming out at $12,000 in the mid-1980s, the price of that diamond gradually moved up to $14,250 last year and $15,500 this year”.

This same diamond now cost $16,000 in 2024. Needless to say, timing is everything. In the long run, natural diamonds have tended to hold up in value, and generally do not go through such dramatic price fluctuations as the time period above. The 70s and early 80s was a unique time when the United States suffered terrible inflation. If we look past all the volatility in the middle, the diamond above increased 10x in value between 1970 and 2024.  

Similarly, lab grown diamonds and other color gemstones have their own unique market price fluctuations depending on supply factors, new mine discoveries, political sanctions, etc.

vintage marquise ring with wedding bands

Considering the Setting and Design

While the center stone often steals the spotlight, the setting and design of the ring also play an important role in determining its resale value. Factors such as the metal used (platinum, gold, etc.), the intricacy of the design, and the overall craftsmanship can all influence the perceived worth of the ring.

For example, a platinum setting may retain its value better than a gold one due to its durability. Likewise, rings with intricate designs or unique features may appeal to certain buyers, commanding higher prices in the resale market. However, it's essential to recognize that not all settings and designs are created equal. While some may hold their value well, others may be viewed primarily as scrap material, especially if they lack widespread appeal or are in poor condition.

Finally, the market for used engagement rings is likely limited. If it's a super fine and beautiful design, then someone might be willing to pay half of the original cost for it. If it's a very niche design, then that becomes more difficult to sell. When it comes to scrap value, the skilled labor component that was part of the original cost of the engagement ring is completely destroyed. So designs featuring many diamond settings or specialized techniques stand to lose the most in value.

vintage marquise ring with wedding bands

Navigating the Selling Process

Deciding where and how to sell an engagement ring can be daunting, and you have two main options: First, online platforms such as eBay and specialized marketplaces for selling used engagement rings offer convenience and access to a broad audience of potential buyers. However, they also come with their own set of challenges and considerations.

Selling directly to a consumer may yield higher returns, as it eliminates the middleman and allows for more personalized negotiations. However, this approach requires patience, as finding the right buyer can take time. Additionally, sellers must be prepared to navigate potential issues such as fraudulent buyers, lowball offers, and logistical complexities (procuring documentation, shipping and insurance, etc.).

Your second option is to sell through a jeweler, pawn shop, or consignment service, who may give you an ‘on the spot’ offer, but will likely offer you the lowest dollar amount due to their need to make a profit after paying for salespeople, photography, and advertising necessary to sell your jewelry.

Our advice is for you to seek both options. Before marketing your ring, ask a jeweler to perform a full maintenance of your jewelry so that you may show and advertise it in the best light. Also have your center stone certificate ready, which is crucial to determining the fair market for your stone.  

Above all, selling an engagement ring is a deeply personal and emotional process that requires sensitivity and empathy. Sellers should take the time to reflect on their reasons for selling and consider how they want to convey this information to potential buyers. Transparency, honesty, and authenticity can go a long way in building trust and facilitating a successful transaction.

Ultimately, while selling an engagement ring may present challenges, it also offers an opportunity for closure or a fresh start. While there are no easy answers or guaranteed outcomes, approaching the process with patience, realism, and sensitivity can help navigate this delicate journey with grace and dignity.

Have questions? We're happy to help.