Act surprised: Your wedding ring is a terrible investment

Divorce. It's an unattractive yet common end to a relatively high percentage of marriages in the U.S. In fact, as many as 50 percent of American marriages end this way, often leaving catastrophic personal and financial consequences that linger for years.

The division of assets. Alimony. Child Custody Issues. Who gets the Stuff? These are all things that must be dealt with during and after a divorce, whether one likes it or not. And the truth is, it isn't always pretty.

Unfortunately, my beloved brother recently learned all about divorce the hard way — by actually going through one. And since he could no longer afford his giant house on his own, he had to move and sell most of his bigger stuff. I wanted to help in any way I could, so I offered to sell some of his bigger items on Craigslist and eBay. And within the timeframe of a few months, I sold his lawnmower and baby grand piano without too much hassle.

But, even though I tried for weeks, there was one thing I couldn't sell, his former wife's diamond engagement ring.

A Beautiful Yet Depreciating Asset

“Weird,” I thought. The .75 carat set was beautiful and in perfect condition, and I even had the original receipt to prove the diamond's quality and clarity. And here's the kicker: He paid over $3,100 seven years ago, but was only asking $1,500 bucks. As a bargain-seeker, it seemed like a good deal to me.

The problem is, I had (and still have) zero experience buying or selling used jewelry, or any kind for that matter. I don't own any diamonds (my engagement ring is a sapphire), and I returned the only pair of expensive earrings my husband has ever bought me (and I've never lived it down). I'm just not into jewelry, nor do I want to be. However, I did want to help my brother so I spent some time researching what some of his options might be.

What Are Used Diamonds Really Worth?

I searched for information, read articles, and conducted a considerable amount of research on the overall value of used diamonds, and what I found was shocking. According to research all over the web, and this awesome post at Priceonomics, diamond engagement rings are worth at least 50 percent less than you paid the moment you drive them off of the lot — or in this case, saunter out the front door of your favorite jewelry store. Even popular online diamond and engagement ring resale store IDoNowIDont.com advertises that sellers might be able to recoup as much as 40 to 75 percent of the value of their jewelry if they're lucky. And of course, that's ;before the site takes a 15 percent commission for setting up the deal. Ouch.

Several articles I read did suggest that I take the ring to several jewelry stores and pawn shops to see what they might be willing to offer. So I did. Out of the four stores I visited, the highest offer I received was a mere $800 for the set. For those of you who are keeping track, that's around 25 percent of the full retail value.

Diamonds Are Forever … Seriously

More bad news: It appears that, when it comes to diamonds, the American public has been sold a gloriously fabricated bill of goods. It all started in the early 1900s, when diamond behemoth De Beers owned over 90 percent of the world's rough diamond mines and distribution channels. By the mid-1900s, De Beers started turning to the advertising industry to promote their product. And they did an exceptionally good job, first by enlisting celebrities to pose for photographs and magazine spreads wearing the jewels, then by fabricating news stories that glorified the growing trend of diamond jewelry.

By 1948, the De Beers epic tagline, “A Diamond is Forever,” had been born, along with the idea that the average suitor should spend two months of his income on an engagement ring. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Unfortunately, we bought it all — hook, line, and sinker. And so it began, a period when humans thoughtlessly lavished one another with diamonds that were “timeless,” “scarce,” and “forever.” But was any of it real? An excerpt from PolicyMic:

“This is the hidden history of the diamond invention. They are a fabricated fantasy, born of the greed of one tyrannical syndicate which has dictated the price for decades. Consumers have been fooled into perpetuating the idea that these abundant pieces of carbon are somehow unique symbols of esteem — tokens of wealth and romance.

De Beers propagated this illusion of scarcity to become one of the most successful cartels in the history of commerce. Almost any other commodity has fluctuated in response to economic conditions, but diamonds have steadily advanced upward in price since the 1930s. People continue to wear them or hoard them in safes as “family heirlooms.” The most painful irony is, none of them could be sold for even a tenth of their original purchase price. The diamond market relies on consumers never parting with their rings or necklaces or earrings. That way, only the distributors can dictate value. It is a sad, cyclical delusion which costs lives, corrupts nations, and materializes our affections.

What If You Don't Want Your Diamond to be Forever?

The PolicyMic piece makes several great points, including the fact that people who never sell their jewelry may never realize just how little it is worth. But let's not forget the fact that as many as 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Just think of all of the used engagement rings that result from so many failed marriages. The sad truth is this: My brother isn't the only one who has been unpleasantly surprised by just how little their used engagement ring is worth.

Kassandra D. went through something similar after getting divorced in 2006. Like my brother, she and her fiancé paid around $3,100 for her engagement ring and band. And, like my brother, she was less than impressed with the resale value of her used diamond jewelry.

“I listed the ring on two online sites, Craigslist and Kijiji.ca, which are local to Canada,” said Kassandra. “The appraised value was $4,000, but I initially listed it at $1,000 negotiable.” Despite the underwhelming resale value, Kassandra decided to go ahead and sell the ring to a newly engaged couple for $850.

“It goes to show that the retail prices on new diamond engagement rings are overpriced to begin with,” said Kassandra. “The couple whom I sold it to got a really good deal and paid a fair price for it.”

How to Game the Diamond Industry

The couple who bought Kassandra's used wedding set are straight-up geniuses in my book. Let's look at the facts: They bought a used ring that appraised for $4,000 for a mere $850, and completely skipped out on paying sales tax to boot. Winning!

But, they aren't the only ones who've gotten away with it, and they won't be the last. If you plan on putting a ring on it in the near future or know someone who is considering it, it might be time to weigh the pros and cons of buying a used diamond engagement ring. A few places to start your search:

  • IDoNowIDont.comHilarious name, I know. Still, IDoNowIDont.com offers the largest selection of used engagement rings and loose diamonds on the web. Staff gemologists even check every stone to verify its quality and authenticity.
  • eBay.com — eBay also provides an excellent platform to buy or sell used engagement rings or loose diamonds. They even offer a diamond-buying guide that can help buyers feel confident about their purchase.
  • HaveYouSeenTheRing.com– HaveYouSeenTheRing.com is similar to other used engagement ring sites in that all jewelry bought or sold through their site is evaluated by a licensed gemologist. They also advertise that you can save as much as 80 percent off of retail by making offers directly to the seller.

The Bottom Line About Diamond Engagement Rings

There's nothing wrong with purchasing an expensive diamond or diamond engagement ring. However, it's important to understand the type of purchase you're making. The truth: An expensive engagement ring is a want, not a need. It's kind've like buying a fully-loaded BMW 4-Series instead of an old trusty Honda Civic. Sometimes you just want what you want, and that's okay. Many people would even argue that engagements and weddings are events worth splurging for.

But, for heaven's sake, don't buy an engagement ring as an investment. Also, don't delude yourself into thinking that it will hold its value. It won't. And, despite what the diamond industry has to say about it, there's nothing wrong with a used ring. In fact, you don't need an engagement ring of any kind to get married. A lot of people skip the entire tradition for a multitude of reasons. My parents don't wear rings, for instance, and they've been married over 40 years. I think it's going to work.

Marriages Matter, Diamonds Don't

After hearing me out, my brother chose to keep the ring in case he gets remarried in the future. When that time comes, he plans to “trade it in” to see if he can get more than the $800 offered by the jewelry store. I think that's an excellent decision, although it could backfire if the ring actually becomes worth less in future years. We'll have to see.

Overall, this situation simply underscored the reasons I'm not overly impressed with shiny, expensive jewelry in the first place. I love being married, and I don't feel any less married because I only have a small sapphire ring on my finger. The truth is, the amount of money spent on an engagement ring has no bearing on the quality of a marriage, despite what De Beers has to say about it.

A diamond is forever? It might be true, but that's only because the payments will literally go on forever if you do indeed spend two months of your income on an engagement ring. No thanks. In my eyes, diamonds and jewels are a lot like fireworks; shiny and fun to look at, but ultimately pointless.

Have you ever tried to sell a used engagement ring? Would you accept a used engagement ring from your fiancé?

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Beth
Beth
6 years ago

Love this post, Holly! I remember reading an online book called the Diamond Invention which explored the same ideas described here — including a section on “product placement” in Hollywood movies. (Lavish proposal scenes everyone is meant to aspire to). Marketing has convinced people that diamonds are rare and precious — really, they aren’t! I think one of the reasons people don’t want used engagement rings is they think they’re cursed someone — as if someone’s failed marriage will reflect on your own, either that or your fiance was too cheap to pick out a ring just for you. Both… Read more »

Tina in NJ
Tina in NJ
6 years ago

My hubby bought me the ring I wanted (but smaller than I wanted) and it turned out I almost never wear it as I’m a stay-at-home mom. His first (late) wife’s diamond ring we’re saving for their son. He can use it as is or have it reset. Like Princess Diana’s ring, it will include her in the celebration. Son will probably spend the money on something else, though. He’s fond of expensive gifts. But he’s the one with 3 summer jobs.

Chzplz
Chzplz
6 years ago

Agree with the stigma of someone else’s failed engagement ring. Buy a used ring for the diamond and get it set in a new ring.

Alicia @ Financial Diffraction
Alicia @ Financial Diffraction
6 years ago

My Mom was married and divorced before she married my father. She ended up re-setting the original diamond and turning it into a non-engagement ring, though truthfully I think I only ever saw her wear it once. A few years ago she and I both went to sell that ring (valued at over $6,000 25 years ago… just think of the gold prices now) and couldn’t even get $500 for it. Instead she gave it to me because I liked it. I have a nice engagement ring. Pretty simple, and what is popular now (4 prong, white gold, high set… Read more »

Robert Patterson
Robert Patterson
6 years ago

I have a question. Not sure how to make a reply to the article so I just hit reply

I bought my wife a nice rose gold diamond ring (1800.00) for our wedding band.
After a few weeks of wearing it she said she had a small rash under it.
She came home and told me she was out with her mom and they traded it up. She ended up coming home with a 10k dollar diamond ring which her mom paid for.
How am I supposed to respond to this?

Alis
Alis
5 years ago

wow. that’s an interesting wife. but hey, happy wife, happy life, right? you may want to share how you feel about it with her, but know it may not change the outcome. but she is your wife, she is not a mind-reader. so she won’t know how you feel about it unless you tell her. however, keep in mind that she may also be needing to express her own opinions, such as, I really didn’t like it, or, I figured you were too busy to go out shopping with me to get it traded, or, we don’t have the income… Read more »

NicoleAndmaggie
NicoleAndmaggie
6 years ago

We were poor college students. Dh fashioned an engagement ring out of wood.

Johanna
Johanna
6 years ago

Did you do any research into non-diamond engagement rings (seeing as how you have one yourself)? It would be interesting to see if they hold a higher fraction of their value.

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  Johanna

No, I didn’t. It was only around $400, so I would be surprised if I could sell it for $100!

Brian@ Debt Discipline
[email protected] Debt Discipline
6 years ago

I think a loose diamond would have more value then a previously set one. If you were going to buy used (I wouldn’t have an issue with that) you most likely would get it set in a new ring setting.

Kelly
Kelly
6 years ago

Interesting post, but I have to take you to task for twice quoting and perpetuating the myth that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. I wish you’d done a little research on that instead of quoting wrong pop culture stats. Makes me question the rest the research. http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/d/divorce.htm#.U48W4cvD-Ag

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  Kelly

Actually, I did research it which is why I wrote “as many as 50 percent of marriages” both times.

From what I’ve read, it’s incredibly difficult to create accurate marriage and divorce statistics since so many people get married and divorced in any given year. I even read that more people than you would think get divorced then remarried to the same person. How do you count those people? I have no idea!

Anyway, I don’t think anyone knows for sure which is why I did not commit to a specific figure.

Brenton
Brenton
6 years ago

Its tough because there are “serial divorcers” who get married 5 or 6 times that disrupt the numbers.

It also is becoming more and more irrelevant since the majority of children in the US are born out of wedlock. In 30 years, marriage might be an antiquated notion for all but a small minority of the population.

uclalien
uclalien
6 years ago

Based on my research on marriage/divorce statistics, the “50% of all marriages end in divorce” myth comes from an unknown source in the 1970s. Statisticians can’t find a creditable source of data. Where it is believed to have originated is based on the fact that one year in the 1970s there were half as many divorces as marriages that occurred. Any statistician worth his salt would tell you that this is a terrible approach. In addition, the myth above wouldn’t take into account the fact that a person who has been divorced once is much more likely to get divorced… Read more »

Kylie
Kylie
6 years ago

Yes, but there are people who *have* made a good faith effort to estimate the actual divorce rate, and it’s nowhere near 50 percent. This article, written by a psychologist, estimates the rate at closer to 30% overall, and 20% for college graduates over 25. http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-myth-of-the-high-rate-of-divorce/00011473 To be honest, you used the 50% number because it was the path of least resistance and getting the number right wasn’t important to the point of your article. However in the future, a much better approach would be to simply say that sometimes, marriages end in divorce, and that leaves you with a… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  Kylie

That seems valid, but it’s just one study. I actually looked to government data but found that only 44 states reported raw data on the number of marriages and divorces in their state. That definitely won’t help. According to the American Psychological Association, the divorce rate is 40-50% and higher for subsequent marriages. As a side note, I’ve also read numerous articles that claim the divorce rate is currently on the rise due to the ongoing economic recovery. The bottom line: I don’t think anyone knows for sure. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/03/27/divorce-is-actually-on-the-rise-and-its-the-baby-boomers-fault/ Regardless, like you said, it has nothing to do with the… Read more »

Mrs PoP
Mrs PoP
6 years ago

I received a used rings for engagement and wedding from Mr PoP – used by his great grandmother as her wedding set for nearly 70 years, then passed to his grandmother, mother, and now us. In just a couple of years, the date inscription on the inside of the band will be 100 years old, and we couldn’t love it more. I’m not sure what we would have done if this ring hadn’t been available. We looked at manufactured diamonds, CZ, and considered pawn shops since there were some fabulous bargains there at the time. Pretty much any of those… Read more »

Tammy
Tammy
6 years ago
Reply to  Mrs PoP

I would call your ring an heirloom rather than used. :0)

jay
jay
6 years ago

My experience in buying diamonds (n=1)for my wife’s engagement concluded at the time that I should get one that is GIA certified. The store from where I purchased the diamond offers a lifetime trade-in for any upgrade and you only pay the difference. Additionally for our insurance, it was appraised at double the value. Hopefully I will never find myself in a situation where I am trying to get rid of it, but I do feel comfortable about the security that I have behind this “investment.”

getagrip
getagrip
6 years ago

When I brought some jewelry in for cash, they didn’t even include the diamonds in the price offer, only the price and weight of the gold in the two rings I had. I had them pop out the diamonds and will potentially reset them in the future. Jewelry is the biggest mark up. I remember being in a shop on St. Thomas many years ago. 50% off sale banners everywhere, so looked at a $500 ring, it was now at $250. I said no. Discount from the sales person. Down to $200. I still said no. Discount from the manager.… Read more »

Mike
Mike
5 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

Helpful info, thanks

Sally
Sally
6 years ago

My husband was engaged at one time before he met me. I have always been frugal and suggested that we use the returned ring as my engagement ring. It was tiny but functional. We have been married for 42 years, so I don’t think the failed engagement ring had any effect on our relationship. I am not a fan of conspicuous consumption and pricey rings fall into that category as far as I am concerned.

Jenn
Jenn
6 years ago

My husband had the diamond from his mother’s ring reset for my engagement ring. He promised that he’d get me a ‘better’ ring later but it’s been 15 years and I’ve never felt the need to upgrade. I don’t wear the ring that often because it catches on things so maybe I’ll have it reset someday. I inherited my grandmother’s wedding set and I wear that ring more often because I think it’s pretty and it feels like I’m bringing my grandmother along with me. It’s probably even less valuable than a newer ring because it’s an older cut that’s… Read more »

SavvyFinancialLatina
SavvyFinancialLatina
6 years ago

When we got engaged, we went looking for rings. Holy crap talk about expensive! Plus, I already knew that DeBeers had created a cartel out of the diamond industry, so even harder to gulp the cost. We even went to a pawn shop but hubby said he didn’t want a used ring…darn I wouldn’t have cared at all. We went with simple wedding bands. My wedding bands does have little diamonds all around it, but I got it on sale at Kay’s. We figured the unlimited re sizing at no cost would come in handy. Which it did. i’ve had… Read more »

Becky @ RunFunDone
Becky @ RunFunDone
6 years ago

I have ethical concerns about diamonds (I don’t want any blood diamonds!), so I don’t own any…except my man-made diamond engagement ring. I love it that I have a ring that’s just as beautiful as the “real” stuff, but cost WAY less, and no one got hurt to get me a sparkly ring!

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago

One of my friends bought his wife’s engagement diamond in the diamond district in New York. Then he had the stone set. I don’t know what it cost him, but I know that he negotiated on the price – like buying a car. If my boyfriend and I ever get engaged it will be interesting figuring out the engagement ring. I’m pretty sure he won’t surprise me with a ring – I don’t wear jewelry, so I don’t even know my ring size! I doubt he’d be able to figure out my ring size. Plus, to be honest, I don’t… Read more »

Julie
Julie
6 years ago

Per your own words, you don’t have experience with diamonds, so I have no idea why you are writing an ill-informed article. And it never ceases to amaze me that people spend thousands of dollars on jewelry that they know nothing about. Appraised values does not equal what you can get in the secondary market!!! Just no. And it doesn’t matter how much your brother paid for the diamond and how much he is now offering it for. You have to be educated on what you’re looking for when buying diamonds. If that isn’t your cup of tea, I would… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  Julie

I’ll informed, really?

I’m simply reporting that people lose money when they try to resell their diamond jewelry. Your own experience even proves what I’m saying:

“At any point in time they will buy back my diamond for my purchase price less 25%. So 25% is the least I could lose.”

This isn’t supposed to be a post about thoroughly researching diamonds and selecting the perfect one. This is a post about how, in my opinion, diamonds are not a good investment.

It sounds like you bought it all, Julie- hook, line, and sinker!

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago

Sorry, ill-informed****

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Julie

You didn’t have to be so harsh and snotty.

Cindy @ GrowingHerWorth
Cindy @ GrowingHerWorth
6 years ago
Reply to  Julie

I would have to disagree, I think it’s a very well written, well researched article. Holly isn’t writing about how to buy jewelry, she’s writing about her experience trying to resell a diamond ring. As you confirm, they don’t retain their value. And, just like any warranty, I’m sure the cost of the buy-back policy is built in to how your jeweler prices their jewelry. I worked in the wedding industry for 8+ years, and know that many couples do consider their wedding set an “investment”. As a personal finance site, I think it’s great to point out that it’s… Read more »

Shawn G
Shawn G
6 years ago

I know this article is more about the fallacy of diamond values, but I wanted to give you all some uplifting news about marriage:

A recently published book entitled “The Good News About Marriage” by Shaunti Feldhahn says that the U.S. divorce rate is closer to 20 to 25% for first marriages and 31% overall.

Jennifer
Jennifer
6 years ago
Reply to  Shawn G

I read that article recently too, it was quite heartening!

Jennifer
Jennifer
6 years ago

I’d be fine with a vintage or family ring but not a used ideally. I am surprised your brother’s ex-wife gave back the engagement ring though, isn’t it traditional to take the jewelry you were given with you after a relationship?

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer

I’m not sure about the details on that, although I know they reached an amicable agreement on how to divide their assets.

Cindy @ GrowingHerWorth
Cindy @ GrowingHerWorth
6 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer

I’m not sure what the law says regarding a divorce, and who gets the ring. But in many states, if you are engaged and the wedding gets called off, the man gets the ring back. The exception being if it was given as a gift (as in a birthday or Christmas gift). I think the idea is that the ring was given as a commitment to marry, and since that commitment is broken (regardless of who broke it), the person who purchased it gets it back. But I’m not sure what the law says when you have gotten married, and… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago

Since she actually did get married she can keep the ring. But maybe she should return the wedding band ;P

I, too, am surprised she gave back the engagement ring. Maybe she didn’t want any reminders at all? I could understand if it was a family heirloom – if I were getting divorced I wouldn’t feel right keeping my ex-husband’s family heirloom – but that isn’t the case here.

Kristin
Kristin
6 years ago

I am a divorce attorney in New York State. In NY, once the couple has married, the engagement ring becomes the wife’s property. It is a gift given in consideration for a promise, that is, to marry. If the couple does not marry, the woman must give the ring back, legally speaking. Wedding rings are regular marital property.

Rail
Rail
6 years ago

Great post Holly. The De Beers diamond scam is one of the best con jobs ever conceived. I’ve told people for years that diamonds should not even be called a bad investment; they are no investment at all! Why people throw all common sense out the window when it comes to diamond rings defies logic, it just doesn’t make sense. Buy a nice gold ring and have something with real value. Cheers!

Waverly
Waverly
6 years ago

What’s most interesting to me is that people don’t want a “used” engagement ring or an engagement ring from a failed marriage. As if the ring itself carries bad juju with it.

Ever bought a used car? A used house? A used pair of pants? Well, someone most likely had a fight in that car, an accident in that house, and farted in those pants. How is it that cars, houses, and pants don’t have bad juju but jewelry does?

Amanda
Amanda
6 years ago
Reply to  Waverly

I laughed out loud and love this comment.

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  Waverly

I agree.

Many houses are put on the market due to divorce. You certainly don’t see people avoiding them like the plague!

betsy22
betsy22
6 years ago
Reply to  Waverly

On the other hand, I’ve read about a house in my neighborhood that was the site of two separate, completely unrelated murders. In the end, they had to legally renumber the house in order to sell it, and I think that it still went far below what the regular market value would be.

leh
leh
6 years ago
Reply to  Waverly

While I generally agree with your sentiment, houses, cars and pants are all generally utilitarian items that you are buying with the intention of using them for some purpose. An engagement ring is much more a symbol of commitment than an item with a specific use, so I can see why some people wouldn’t want that symbol to have come from a failed marriage.

Sarah @ Little Bus on the Prairie
Sarah @ Little Bus on the Prairie
6 years ago
Reply to  leh

My engagement ring was my MIL’s from her 3rd (failed) marriage to my FIL.
I like to think of it as “redeeming the ring.”

andPortugal
andPortugal
6 years ago
Reply to  Waverly

bad juju, love it!
that’s not why, though, i would never never never never never never buy a diamond (even the “trusted companies” buy blood diamonds, from countries like Angola) or a house that had been foreclosed by a bank because the owners lost their jobs and home – it’s because i believe in ethics.
great job on dismantling the “diamonds are forver” De Beer myth

MM
MM
6 years ago

There was also a long Atlantic piece about trying to sell diamonds that you might find interesting:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/02/have-you-ever-tried-to-sell-a-diamond/304575/

Jennifer
Jennifer
6 years ago

My husband and I bought my engagement set off of Craigslist. We decided to buy used, so I went on a mission to buy the “best ring for the lowest price.” I didn’t look at anything that was less than 50% off appraisal or purchase price, and targeted those that were really in the 25% range. We ended up paying $2000 for a 1 carat center diamond with 1.3 carats in side diamonds. The receipt says they paid $8,000 for it and we were able to get an appraisal for $10k. We had planned to get it reset, but 4… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
6 years ago

I wanted my rings to look a certain way (and honestly in Jake’s line of work it is good for them to look a certain way), but I didn’t care about used versus new, real versus “fake”. So we went with CZ in white gold. I think the rings were like $300 apiece because that’s what gold was going for at the time. His ring is a white gold band and was also a little over $300. I suppose if we ever divorced we’d pawn the gold and I could have the stones reset if I wanted. My parents didn’t… Read more »

Elaine
Elaine
6 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

I really want to say this nicely and kindly, but are you really worried about how your wedding rings “look” to Jake’s clients?

I’m thinking not one person has ever noticed them or judged your husband’s success and capability by your rings.

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  Elaine

Something that happened to me once: I used to work in the funeral industry, and anyone in the industry will tell you that your customers don’t like to see you flaunting your wealth. Funerals are expensive and many customers truly believe that funeral directors earn too much. Regardless, I was 8 months pregnant and my fingers had swelled up like sausages. My sapphire wedding ring didn’t fit anymore so I had gone to Kohl’s and bought a gaudy ring that looked like a wedding band. I was in an arrangement room with a family that was not pleased with the… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
6 years ago
Reply to  Elaine

I have certainly been to black-tie events where appearance is important and there are people he wanted to impress! And in fact my ring (beautiful as it is) does not compare to the (“real”) rings others are wearing in those circumstances. That said, it is a minor consideration to be sure. The fact that my ring looks EXACTLY the way I wanted it to look is far more important–to me, anyway.

Marsha
Marsha
6 years ago
Reply to  Elaine

It’s the unfortunate truth that in some professions (law is one) your competence is judged by your display of wealth. Many people won’t believe a lawyer could be any good if he/she drives a 15-year-old car and lives in a low rent area. Read more about this in “The Millionaire Next Door.” My sister is a doctor in private practice in a small city. She can’t go to the thrift stores there because word will get around that she can’t afford to shop at full-price stores. People will then question her competence as a doctor. When she visits me, we… Read more »

Kandace
Kandace
6 years ago

I had a simple ring the first time around–three gold bands with five small standing diamonds. I got about $150 for it when I sold it. I think it cost about $500-600 to buy.

Second time around I got a wider ring with diamonds inlaid. Yes, bought it for retail. But I love it because it is beautiful, elegant, and best of all doesn’t catch on anything. I’m not planning on needing to sell this one.

Nicole
Nicole
6 years ago

Just finished reading ‘The engagements’ by J. Courtney Sullivan- a mix of fiction & non-fiction. Eye-opening story of the advertising strategies of DeBeers, with some fabulous tales threaded through it. I don’t wear my ring for various ethical & practical reasons, and would sell it for the $ if I didn’t think it would hurt my husbands feelings. 😛

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago

If you like and enjoy diamonds, then I don’t see anything wrong with it. Like I said, it’s a “want” not a “need.” Still, we should all splurge on the things we want the most in life. If we don’t, what on earth are we all working so hard for? But, you might be surprised by how many people see their engagement ring as an investment and how many jewelry stores perpetuate that idea. The store I brought my brother’s ring into had a sign that read, “Diamonds- An Investment that Lasts a Lifetime!” I thought it was ironic since… Read more »

Julie
Julie
6 years ago

I don’t know if I’m surprised!! On the one hand, of the people that I know that are into diamonds, none of them think of it as an investment that they will sell one day to make money. They love these shiny objects and plan to keep them or pass them along to their children. But on the other hand, I am thinking of the Beanie Baby craze years ago, people were buying them up and thought they would retire on their “collection”

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  Julie

Oh, don’t get me started on those- and those Longaberger baskets! Whoever convinced people that baskets were an “investment” is a marketing genius and deserves a raise =)

IamFI
IamFI
6 years ago

Glad the writer took this on. So in college, I had a family diamond ring that was apprised at around $12k. I was nonetheless a broke college student. So one day I went to hock it – and was offered $1,000 at a jewelry buyer. This was my first lesson in depreciation. I remember at 21 when my husband and I decided to marry (young I know!) I told him that if he wanted to give me something he could give me a mutual fund or a house, but skip the ring. 🙂 Part of it was living in Texas… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  IamFI

Some of my friends who got married in their 30s wanted more bling with the rationale that “I’ve waited long enough for this…”

It’s not for me. I want a marriage, not a ring and a wedding.

Retired by 40
Retired by 40
6 years ago

I have a lab created diamond ring, because as you said, it’s the marriage that matters, not the ring. Of course I’m a girl, so I wanted a diamond, but I just couldn’t stomach spending thousands. We spend $500 for a beautiful set, and no one even knows its lab-made!

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

When I got engaged last year decided I didn’t want an engagement ring, just one wedding ring for the ceremony and to wear. I prefer gemstones so my ring is emerald and white sapphire. There’s some disadvantages of gemstone wedding rings but I love my non-diamond ring. The cost, of course, is significantly less than the typical diamond ring.

Zambian Lady
Zambian Lady
6 years ago
Reply to  Carla

Carla – I also did not want a an engagement ring. I just wanted a gold wedding band that was not expensive and my hubby surprised me by getting me a band with some diamonds. It was still not expensive and this is fine with me.

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago

I had an engagement sweatshirt–very useful. At some point during our now almost 33 year marriage, my husband got suckered by ads into buying me a ring with a diamond to replace the gold band I’d lost. I said thanks, but no thanks because I don’t like diamonds, and I’d mentioned several times over the years that I don’t like diamonds (my birthstone). My preference is my engraved gold band that we bought for $150.

Sean Tankarian
Sean Tankarian
6 years ago

The reason rings are a terrible investment is simply because it’s a consumer item, not an investment! An investment is something used for business purposes that puts money in your pocket through cash flow, capital gains, or both.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
6 years ago
Reply to  Sean Tankarian

So what are classic cars? My dad likes to buy classic American muscle cars and his cars actually appreciate 😉

Broke Millennial
Broke Millennial
6 years ago

Can’t stand them! I wrote a long piece about why people shouldn’t waste their money on engagement rings. They simply aren’t worth it, at all.

Steve
Steve
6 years ago

Very timely article for this guy, certainly gives me a lot to think about! Cheers

Judy Ann
Judy Ann
6 years ago

I discovered this same information when my marriage failed after 11 months – yea, I know – it was a bad idea to start with. The ring cost $1500 it wasn’t a lot of carat weight but pretty and fit me. I took it to my jeweler who offered me $500 credit with the caveat that I spend a matching $500 for something in his store. He told me jewelry had a markup of 5x. I eventually took it back to the store where purchased – a long time store in our city. I was offered a $750 credit but… Read more »

Ely
Ely
6 years ago

I did try to sell my mother-in-law’s modest diamond ring. The jeweler shrugged and offered $150 or so for the gold in the band.

For sentimental reasons I was unwilling to let it go for so little, but it is far too impractical to wear. I keep it on the off chance some extended relative will want the traditional sparkle without the traditional cost.

Brian @ Luke1428
Brian @ Luke1428
6 years ago

” Would you accept a used engagement ring from your fiancé?” Perhaps that is the reason the market for used rings is poor. Everyone wants to have a virgin ring on their finger.

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

Ironically most “new” jewelry especially diamonds are made from existing items – they have just been recycled. Its rare that you’re going to get a diamond straight from the ground.

Julie
Julie
6 years ago

Great post holly! I enjoyed reading this. I think it’s spot on with the exception that there are so many diamond discounters now out there. My husband and I had new rings designed for our 10 year anniversary and we got it done for dirt cheap. We just did lots of googling until we found a retailer that would be able to custom work and inexpensively. The one that did it for us is http://www.centurydiamonds.com but there are a ton of other choices out there if you look hard enough. I know it’s foolish of me, but I personally would… Read more »

Money Saving
Money Saving
6 years ago

I love this post! I never really thought about it, but these sites seem like a perfect way to find a nice ring at a large discount.

If I weren’t already happily married I would bookmark this page 🙂

A.J.
A.J.
6 years ago

Many people consider it bad luck to wear a dead person’s diamond. I think that’s a shame, because there’s so much beautiful vintage jewelry to be had at a fraction of the price of new. That said, if you have a negative association with something for whatever reason, you’re not going to be happy having to wear it and see it every day of your life.

Crystal
Crystal
6 years ago

My husband and I picked out my $125 engagement ring together as broke college kids. Once his grandma was told about our engagement, she chided him and gave me her engagement ring from the 1940’s. Best ring ever even if it isn’t exactly my style – it’s the ultimate acceptance into the family, which works for me. 🙂

Jacob
Jacob
6 years ago

*sappy post warning*

I dropped a pretty penny on the ring, don’t regret it for one second. Won’t be needing to trade it for cash any time soon 🙂

But yes, engagement rings are not meant to appreciate in value, the only thing appreciating is the love and affection of your significant other as you grow together for decades upon decades of marriage.

No sarcasm, I love marriage, and the ring is only a representation of our never-ending love. It’s a complete circle, with no ending, just like our love. 🙂 Srsly, my wife rocks.

laura
laura
6 years ago

regarding would i accept a used ring from my fiancee? well, if my current boyfriend proposed to me, there likely would be no ring at all because neither of us like to do anything the traditional way. or he would find some ridiculously ironic “ring” to give me, like an onion ring. we’ve been together 3 years so we’ve discussed getting married a little bit but it isn’t a priority right now, and i straight up told him i DO NOT want a *new* diamond, a ring would be nice but not required.

Nick
Nick
6 years ago

My wife was openly hostile to the idea of a diamond in any form, mostly because of the tragic realities of the diamond industry. So we got something else (sapphire) and a fairly modest ring to boot. Weddings and rings are a racket, rivalled only by the ‘new baby’ racket in their pumped up insanity of marketing, expensive traditions and bogus absurdities. A smart, frugal person will consider every one of those absurd traditions, decide which one matters to him or herself, and discard the rest. My grandmother left some gargantuan diamond rings and other such jewelry to her granddaughters,… Read more »

Tara
Tara
6 years ago

I have a big diamond ring and I love it. Yes it was a want and I never considered it an investment, I have known for a long time that jewelry is worth nothing on the resale market except the weight of the gold in it. But that’s fine as I never want to get rid of it, even if my marriage ended. I designed it and he paid for it – got exactly what I wanted!

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Tara

I’ve never considered jewelry an investment either. Ideally its something you will have to have for life and maybe pass it down. This is new terminology for me.

Morgan
Morgan
6 years ago
Reply to  Tara

Same, here! I have a large diamond and 2 diamond wrap bands (it looked funny with just 1 band) and I love them! They were never meant to be an investment, but they do make me smile each time I look at my hand and think of my hubby and our life. The personal value is what matters, if you don’t value them, they are worthless, but if you do, they are priceless!

IamFI
IamFI
6 years ago
Reply to  Tara

There’s a saying in The Millionaire Next Door (I think) that I’m reminded of in reading the article and comments — “Big Hat, No Cattle”. I have so many friends who have nice things but can’t put their kids through college – the kids will incur debt or they will — and that’s just for a BA, rarely a terminal degree these days. Suze Orman has great advice on diamonds — she’s worth quite a bit and considers it a foolish expenditure.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
6 years ago

Great article that is encouraging lots of thinking and other alternatives.

However, it struck me as odd to say the person also “saved” by completely skipping out on paying sales tax and then say “Winning!” Most, if not all, states require you to pay sales tax both on used items and on internet sales, which the buyer is supposed to report if the seller doesn’t collect. Tax evading can have big consequences and while failing to report sales tax in this instance is difficult for gvt to catch, it feels odd to say that tax evading is “winning.”

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  phoenix1920

As a self-employed person, I pay more than enough taxes. I would never report a craigslist purchase to the IRS and voluntarily pay even more. I also suspect that, out of the millions of craigslist sales that take place in any given year, few people do.

I don’t think that failing to pay sales tax should be lumped in with intentional and criminal tax evasion, although that’s just my personal opinion. On the other hand, I suppose it depends on your perspective on whether or not it’s “winning.” =)

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
6 years ago

My husband got our rings when a long-time family owned jewelry store was going out of business, and presumably got a good deal on it. After he purchased it but before I saw it, he was joking with me that he had spent $10,000 on a ring. I responded, “You better not have! That kind of money could be used for a down payment on a house!” Luckily, he had only spent about 1/10th of that amount and kept the remainder in the bank!

partgypsy
partgypsy
6 years ago

Hmm. You state you don’t know this area, but you are writing an article about it? The only people who refer to diamonds as investments are jewelers, (and people who collect natural colored diamonds, royal/historically significant pieces, etc). Some things I would add to this piece. Number one, educate yourself what you are buying. Two different 1 carat diamonds can have widely different values depending on its specs and cut quality. You can say, well I can’t tell the difference so who cares, it makes a big difference when you a) purchase it to make sure you are buying what… Read more »

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

My wife and I got engaged during our last year of college together. We both decided (for a variety of non-judgmental, personal reasons) we’d avoid diamonds. We found an incredibly unique sapphire ring with CZ accents for pennies. You’d be surprised how often she gets compliments on it from women wearing rings 50-100 times the cost. We love it!

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

For those who are concerned about the ethics of owning a diamond, maybe try Canadian diamonds instead?

A member of my family insisted on a Canadian diamond for her jewelry — she did her research, of course — but feels uneasy about the pieces she inherited.

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