A divorce can be an incredibly emotional process.
Selling your wedding rings after a divorce can equally be challenging. We hear ya, and want to help make the process a bit clearer for you.
Life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect. Sometimes the path you take isn’t the one you thought it would be, or someone you knew grows into someone else — sometimes you grow into someone else.
And what is undoubtedly a confusing, tumultuous time can be even more complicated when you’re unsure of the proper etiquette for dealing with valuable symbols of the Future That Was. Was it a gift? A joint investment? A down payment on Happily Ever After?
It can be hard to let go of happy memories, whether you and your spouse were together for ten months or ten years. We want to help you navigate the stormy waters of separation in a way that’s as positive as can be, and avoid the pitfalls of tradition, emotional attachment, and the pre-owned jewelry market.
Here to see where to sell your wedding ring for the most money?
Who do the Wedding Rings Belong To?
The legal stance on the ownership of wedding and engagement rings is fuzzy. In normal circumstances, an engagement ring is considered a “pre-marital asset” — meaning it was something the bride owned before getting married and is therefore hers alone.
Wedding bands, on the other hand, are gifts that were exchanged after the marriage took place and are generally considered marital property. Certain parts of the world view the act of receiving a ring as a “promise of marriage”. As long as the person fulfills that promise (the act of getting married), the ring is then theirs to do with as they wish.
If however, they break that promise by canceling the engagement, they are required to return the ring to the person who gave it to them.
The exception? When the ring is a family heirloom, it is being received as a promise to become a part of that family. If the recipient of the ring later leaves that family, most laws will call for the ring to be returned. If you find yourself entangled in the post-marital legal system, check out what the specific laws are for the area in which you live.
With all that being said, most former couples will decide between themselves the right path to take. You may decide together to leave the rings with whoever could use the most financial help in your new lives, or you may choose to each keep your own rings and go your separate ways. You may want to keep your ring to upcycle or sell, or you might just need to get rid of it in a ceremonial blaze of freedom.
Do Wedding Rings Keep Their Value?
If you do decide to go the route of making some extra pocket money off of your jewelry, be aware that it’s unlikely you’ll be able to sell your rings for the same amount you or your partner paid for them.
The original retail price included the profit margin the jeweler or boutique needed in order to make a living. By selling the ring back to them you’re filling the role of wholesaler and can expect to make, at best, wholesale prices.
If your ring is particularly unusual or attached to a luxury brand name you may be able to sell it as a complete piece. Most of the time it will be valued based on a breakdown of its individual parts:
- The “scrap” value of the metal to be melted down and turned into something new, and
- The diamonds or other stones after they’ve been removed
Jewelers are particularly interested in large center stones of exceptional quality over 1ct. A stone of .97 carats will be indistinguishable from a 1ct to the naked eye but is worth significantly less. Fantastic for you when you’re buying your new ring, a bit more problematic when you’re trying to sell it.
A quick note on TCW (total carat weight): many beautiful diamond engagement rings are made up of several glittering stones, then sold by TCW. This means that a ring with a .82ct center stone surrounded by a circle of smaller diamonds that add up to .21cts has a TCW of 1.03cts. When reselling it, be mindful of the fact that jewelers will be looking at their value as smaller individual pieces rather than one large piece.
Check out our diamond resale value post for plenty more info on this topic.
Where to Sell Your Wedding & Engagement Rings
Once you’re ready, there are several paths you can take to getting the best value for your jewelry.
If you would prefer to walk into a brick-and-mortar store and sell in person, your best bet is to try to sell on consignment. This means that you leave your ring with them in the shop for a pre-agreed span of time and they do their best to sell it on your behalf. Once the ring sells, you and the shop each get a share in the sale price.
Selling on consignment will always get you a better value because there’s no risk for the retailer and they don’t have to pay anything upfront out of their own pocket. However, it does take a bit longer to get your money.
Online Auction Websites
Alternatively, you could sell online – check out our comprehensive guide for details.
- Use websites like CashForGoldUSA for scrap value
- Use websites like Worthy for reselling a particularly special piece in its entirety.
- A rising trend for jewelry buying websites like Out of Your Life caters specifically to jilted women, providing a fully insured “breakup box” to send your items in for evaluation.
You could also try a marketplace site like Etsy or Ruby Lane to sell directly to the buyer. However, be aware that you’ll be responsible for all your own insurance and valuations, making sure you receive secure payment and answering questions from any potential buyers.
How much can I expect to get for my jewelry?
Speaking very generally, when reselling a wedding or engagement ring you can expect to make back between a third and half of the original retail price.
Name brands like Tiffany or Cartier hold their value better than more discreet pieces, and the age, condition, and amount of wear and tear can also have an effect. Reputable documentation, such as GIA grading certificates and insurance appraisals, will add to its value.
The more information you have about your rings, the more prepared you’ll be. If you know specific details about your diamond-like color grade, clarity, and exact carat weight you can use an online tool like this diamond price calculator to help you calculate the fair retail price of your diamond. You can read more about 4C’s, how valuations are done, and how much to expect for your diamond in this article.
See if you can compare some free estimates before selling — start by comparing two online markets and one face-to-face option. If you’re planning on trying to sell directly, you can look through other pre-owned jewelry markets to see what comparable pieces are selling for.
Alternatives to Cashing in Your Wedding Ring
It’s tempting to take an easy payout to help ease your post-separation anxiety (a $1500 ring can buy a lot of bubble bath…). Besides, no one ever really thinks they will have to sell wedding rings after divorce because most people don’t expect to get divorced. You might not feel prepared to take that step, or it might not feel like the right thing to do.
Before selling the ring and splurging on that bubble bath, consider what else you might be able to do with it. One very common choice is to take the ring to a jewelry store and use it to make something new — a diamond pendant, for example, or a special occasion bracelet, to follow you into your new life.
You could also sell the ring and put the money from it towards a charitable organization that you believe in. Two worthwhile causes such as:
- Wish – the charity that launched the Women’s Mental Health Network
- Refuge – an organization that supports survivors of domestic violence
Then again, maybe you just want this chapter of your life to be behind you. If money isn’t a concern, you could use your wedding band to fulfill one last, final gesture of letting go. Burying your wedding ring in a special place that you shared with your partner or throwing it into the churning waves of the sea might be just what you need at this point in your healing process.
Wedding jewelry is a very personal thing, and every experience, every relationship, and every set of tangled memories is an utterly unique part of your life. Whatever approach you decide to take, you now have the tools to make informed choices in this part of your journey. Then you can freely embark on this exciting new chapter of your story with no regrets.
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As the CEO of Love & Lavender, Andrew wears many hats. He is an expert in affiliate marketing, SEO, and content creation. He loves to cook a mean curry, is a Japanophile, enjoys slow travel, and loves to spend time with his wife and adorable son.