In a perfect world, this question would never come up. Unfortunately this is not a perfect world, so this is by far the most asked question in our store. It can be a daunting task so here is a quick rundown of some possible options for selling your engagement ring or any other piece of jewelry.
Identification of your jewelry. This first step in selling your piece is finding out as much information you can about your piece. Where was the item purchased? How much did you pay? What metal is the piece? Are there diamonds? Are they real? What size and quality are the diamonds or gemstones? Is my diamond certified and if so by whom? These are just some of the questions you need to find out before you even attempt to sell your item. What if I don't have any of this information? Get an independent appraisal.
Get an independent appraisal. Most jewelry stores will give an appraisal on your item at the time of purchase. This is not an independent appraisal. This appraisal is generally 20-30% higher than the purchase price. Why is the price so high? Generally this price is higher than the purchased price to make the customer feel like they received a great deal. "I only paid $5,000 but it appraised for $10,000!" This sounds great on paper but that amount is not the true value of the piece. The true value is how much the next guy will pay your for it.
Professionally clean and polish. Nobody wants to buy a used car with a huge scratch in the hood and a dented bumper. This is no different that with jewelry. If you are going to sell this piece for the highest price, you need to get the item in presentable shape. No matter if you sell it to an individual, jewelry store or pawn shop, the condition of the piece will help sell the item. An individual wants to purchase something that looks new and can easily wear it immediately or gift it as soon as possible. Jewelry stores and pawn shops that see a ring in presentable condition will offer more in hopes that they can put little to no money into it and sell it fast. If the piece needs a lot of work, the store will buy it at scrap price which will be the value of the metal and stones only.
Determine where to sell. This can be where the process can be quick and simple or years of frustration. In order to get the most for your piece, you are going to need to sell it as close to the end user as possible. This means that you will get the most dollars from an individual since their only options are to buy from you are a retail store. Best case you can find someone you know that will be willing to buy it from you. If not, you will need to go out and find someone. Craigslist and Ebay is where a lot of people try out initially. Craigslist is breeding ground for scammers. BE CAREFUL WITH THIS! Even if you meet somewhere safe, eventually you will either make the transaction and leave with money or leave with your merchandise. You leave yourself as a target to be followed and robbed. Ebay can be safer but that makes you 1 more needle in a stack of a million needles. Currently as of writing this, the number of listings for "diamond engagement rings" on Ebay is 774,230. This number will be never ending. As soon as one ends, another one starts. How will you stand out from the rest? Jewelry stores and pawn shops would be the next best solution. Make sure the store will pay you for the metal and EVERY diamond. A lot of jewelry stores will only buy certain size diamonds and pay you nothing for the rest. Every diamond has some value! The majority of jewelry stores will quickly evaluate your piece and write you a check or cash on the spot. Quick and easy.
How much will I get?
This is another really tough roadblock that everyone must tackle. "Well I paid $5,000 for this just 2 years ago and its appraised for $8,000. Why can't I get even $4,000 for it? The reason for this is the price markup can vary a lot. The retail markup can vary from 1.5-5 times the jewelry store's cost. This can vary based on the overhead of the store. Mall stores have high rent so their markup needs to be high. Branded stores such as Tiffany's have huge advertising and marketing costs so their markup needs to be high. Large stores with lots of employees have high expenses. So if you payed $5,000, the jewelry store's cost could have been anywhere from $1,000 to $3,333. The retail store can by your ring brand new from their supplier for this amount and also get 30-90 days to pay for the item. If they can buy it new for that price with terms, why would they pay you anywhere near that price? This is why most people can assume they might get $750 to $2,500 for that $5,000 piece. I know that is a large range but its impossible to say without knowing all the factors.
Finalizing the sale
So by now you know exactly what you have, the item is in salable condition, we know where to sell it, and for about how much, so how do complete this transaction. If selling online via Ebay, you will want to use paypal but still be careful for scams. Selling on craigslist, maybe meet somewhere safe like a jewelry store or police station. Be careful leaving the place of transaction and always be aware of your surroundings. Jewelry stores will be the safest especially if the company pays in cash or a business check from a local bank. If paid by check, take it immediately to the bank to avoid any stop payments or bad checks. If you take a check, make sure the company is reputable. Google them to see if anyone has complained or check to see if they are members of the Better Business Bureau. Make sure to remove the item from your insurance policy. No need to insure an item you no longer own.
-Aaron Youkilis is the owner and president of Gold and Diamonds in Blue Ash, OH.
He is a third generation jeweler and has been in the industry since 2004.
Aaron has been regularly buying jewelry from the public since 2008.