Wedding Accessories

6 Reasons To Buy Pre-Owned Wedding Rings & Other Jewelry

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In the market for a new wedding ring? An arresting necklace? A timeless timepiece?

Maybe new isn’t the way to go.

You wouldn’t think twice about buying a pre-owned vehicle that’s been thoroughly tuned up and safety-checked six ways from Sunday. So why would you shy away from gently used jewelry?

A Second Life for the Sentimental

Pre-owned jewelry is a big business. In 2015, Bloomberg Businessweek chronicled the meteoric rise of I Do Now I Don’t, a leading peer-to-peer website for secure pre-owned jewelry and watch sales. (Founder Josh Opperman won Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Emerging Entrepreneur” award in 2013, right as his company was taking off.)

The internet didn’t launch the pre-owned jewelry craze, but it certainly hastened things along. Suddenly, you could buy and sell used watches, bracelets, even wedding rings from anywhere, provided you had a valid mailing address.

Forbes contributor Ariel Adams astutely notes that there’s still a thriving auction market for high-end jewelry. That’s likely to persist for some time. But, for the vast majority of jewelry consumers and used jewelry owners, online platforms like I Do Now I Don’t and old-fashioned brick-and-mortar resellers are perfectly adequate.

Why Buy Used?

The sheer availability of high-quality pre-owned jewelry has been something of a self-fulfilling prophecy—after all, it’s hard to stigmatize something when everyone’s doing it.

If you’re still queasy about the thought of buying used, or worry that a “secondhand” gift won’t have the same impact as one that’s never come in contact with human skin, consider these six arguments for buying pre-owned wedding rings and other singular pieces.

  1. It’s Cheaper

Whoever said you can’t put a price on love is wrong. You can, and you will.

Your first engagement ring is likely to be the single most expensive piece of jewelry you purchase in your lifetime (at least, before you turn 35).

Most experts recommend spending no more than three months’ salary on an engagement ring. That’s a lot: $12,500 on a $50,000 annual take. Buying used can stretch your budget on what’s sure to be the most sentimental purchase you make anytime soon.

The same logic applies to other types of jewelry, watches and accessories. Whether you’re buying an anniversary necklace for the love of your life or a high-end watch that you expect will be around three generations from now, why spend more for the same thing?

  1. It’s Easier To Do From Home

Though the jewelry business remains old-fashioned in many ways, it hasn’t completely resisted the disruptive power of the internet.

With the essential and blaring caveat that it always pays to do one’s due diligence, buying pre-owned jewelry online is easy and even fun to do in the comfort of your own home.

This is true whether you’re browsing the pre-owned section of national retailers’ websites, peer-to-peer marketplaces like I Do Now I Don’t, or online auction sites like eBay. If spending a Saturday morning at your local jewelry store doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, stay in and shop the modern way.

  1. It Cuts Out the Middleman

A variation on the affordability argument. Nothing against jewelers; by and large, they’re fine people. But they need to eat too, just like everyone else. The inevitable result: eye-popping markups.

Buying pre-owned doesn’t completely cut out the middleman. No matter how you buy, you’re still going to pay an intermediary, whether through auction fees, commissions or (lower) markups. However, since pre-owned jewelry is priced lower to start, absolute markups aren’t likely to be as severe as on new items. And pre-owned jewelry purchased online or through low-cost brokers tends to have lower middleman fees or markups as a percentage of list price.

Plus, dealing with a middleman can be uncomfortable, especially if you don’t like people selling to you. Why listen to a sales spiel when you can come to your own conclusions about what works best for you and your partner?

  1. It Gives Worthy Pieces Second Lives

Sure, an old watch or ring isn’t quite as sympathetic as a mangy, flea-ridden dog or cat. But that doesn’t change the fact that there’s plenty of unloved jewelry in the world, collectively crying out for new homes.

Great pieces of art deserve owners who appreciate them. They don’t deserve to be locked up in storage somewhere or gathering dust in a display case. When you buy pre-owned jewelry from someone who no longer wants or needs it, you’re still doing your part to support a venerable, millennia-old industry that supported some of the world’s earliest, most talented artisans.

  1. It Helps Sellers Move on After Heartbreak

Used jewelry doesn’t always have a happy story to tell. Not surprisingly, a lot of pre-owned engagement rings have melancholy auras.

Following a bad breakup or unthinkable tragedy, it’s all too common for the bereaved (or merely jilted) to sell their engagement ring in the secondary marketplace. Bittersweet though it is, this is an essential part of the grieving process—a clear break with the past. As the buyer of a secondhand engagement ring, you’re not simply benefiting from someone’s misfortune. You’re helping them into the next phase of their life.

  1. It’s More Secure Than You Think

It’s OK to be skeptical of pre-owned jewelry. Even the finest-looking piece can’t sit up and tell you where it’s been. If you’re worried about authenticity and provenance, you have every right to ask tough questions.

The trick is knowing how to evaluate the answers to those questions—and how to reduce the likelihood that those questions will matter in the first place.

Using a reputable pre-owned jewelry merchant, auction house or peer-to-peer platform is an essential first step. Every transaction carries some risk, but the right partner can provide a great deal of protection.

And if you’re not sure about a transaction, remember: You can always walk away. The world has plenty of stunning, wholly unique pre-owned jewelry pieces, some of which are screaming your name.

Have you ever purchased pre-owned wedding rings or other types of jewelry?

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