Should you sell your engagement ring (or wedding band) after divorce?

sell wedding ring

Short take:

Don't hold on to a token of a relationship gone wrong —  sell your bridal jewelry to Worthy and use the money for a positive new start. 

More info:

I had a really spectacular engagement ring.

It wasn't that it was huge or particularly expensive.

It was unique — the 24-carat yellow gold band consisted of a half-dozen hand-hammered connected spheres, each centered with a very nice diamond.

It was totally my style, and it got lots of attention (which is also my style).

When I divorced, I put the wedding rings in the safe in my house.

In the back of my mind, I thought I would give them to my daughter one day — a token of the marriage that produced her.

Plus, I just wasn't ready to sell the engagement ring — or part with that time of my life.

I see now I wasn't ready to face it.  When you’re ready to sell your engagement ring and wedding band, check out Worthy.

How to sell your engagement ring (or wedding band)

    1. Why sell your engagement ring?
    2. Where to sell your engagement ring
    3. How to sell your engagement ring
    4. Fees
    5. Sell other types of fine jewelry and watches
    6. Where to sell diamonds and gold online
    7. Testimonials

Why sell your engagement ring?

Then, a few summers ago, I had a change of heart.

I thought to the handful of people I know who had used wedding rings left over from marriages that had ended in divorce.

Some of those rocks were impressive – far more expensive than the young couple could have afforded on their own.

It always struck me as bad karma to start a life together with a token from another couple's less-than-ideal story.

I am a big, big believer that things have power. Whether material possessions actually absorb and retain energy from the people and experiences around them, or if it is your own memories and feelings that give the object influence over you, I’m not sure.

But if your walls are lined with pictures of family members who you disdain, that is bad mojo.

That token from a vacation on which you fought mercilessly with your BFF is a reminder of sour times – not margaritas on the beach.

If you surround yourself with things that remind you of the relationship from which you are trying to start anew, well, change that up.

So, I decided to sell my engagement ring.

I did some research, and since it is a brand name designer (Gurhan is a known Turkish jeweler, his stuff is sold at Saks 5th Avenue and Neiman Marcus), it made sense to find a local jewelry store that would pay for that intrinsic value.

What you need to know about selling diamonds before you sell your engagement ring

I called a local Gurhan boutique, which recommended the jewelry buyer that I used.

You can search Yelp or CitySearch for a reputable local jeweler (or sell your jewelry online).

I admit that the cash was less than I'd hoped, but after some research, I understood that there is a significant difference between retail and resale value of jewelry. It is what it is.

I used the money to send my kids to Europe with their dad to visit relatives there. It seemed a just use of those funds.

Plus, it felt good to rid my home and mind of that significant marriage memento.

Before you sell your diamond engagement ring, or other precious jewelry, first educate yourself about diamonds, as well as the valuing and pricing process.

Related: How to sell an engagement ring

How to tell if a diamond is real

While a laboratory test (more on that below) is the only way to be certain whether your diamond is real, there are some easy ways to test at home:

  1. If your diamond is unmounted (not set in jewelry), simply drop the gem into a glass of water. A real diamond will sink to the bottom. A fake will float.
  2. Try the fog test: Blow a warm breath on the diamond (as if you are fogging your glasses or a window). A real diamond will quickly dissipate the fog, while a fake stone will hold the fog for a few seconds.
  3. Look with a magnifying glass. All but the very rarest, highest quality diamonds have small, natural flaws and imperfections. A fake will be “perfect” — without any flaws.
  4. Heat test it. Hold the stone with tweezers and hold above a lighter or candle flame for 45 seconds, then drop into an icy glass of water. A real diamond will not be affected by the extreme temperatures, while a fake will likely shatter.

How much are diamonds worth?

If you're sure your stone is in fact a real diamond, now it is important to understand it's characteristics, which is how the value, and market price are determined.

4 C's of diamonds

The jewelry industry has long used the “4 C's of diamonds” as an easy way to understand all the ways the gemologists and buyers determine how much you can sell your engagement ring or other diamond jewelry.

A diamond's cut

A diamond's cut is the way a stone is finished. A skilled diamond cutter chooses to make precision facets that minimize a stone's natural flaws, and enhances its natural beauty, brilliance and shine.

A diamond grader looks for a stone cut with symmetry, precision, and polish, as well as attractive proportions. The Gemological Institute of America's grades a cut on a scale ranging from Excellent to poor.

A diamond's color

Contrary to popular belief, most diamonds are not pure white. In fact, the most valuable diamonds include those in shades of bright yellow (“canary diamonds”), green, red, and blue, and are called “fancy diamonds” and are graded on a scale of their own.

Diamonds also come in shades of brown (“cognac diamonds”), and even black, though these tend to be less valuable than white diamonds.

Most white diamonds are usually various shades of pale yellow. The brighter the white, the more brilliant the stone tends to be, and the greater the value.

The GIA's color grading scale for white diamonds ranges from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow). GIA's color scale:Diamond 4 c's color

Diamond clarity

Diamonds are stones, and all but exceptionally rare diamonds hav flaws. That is part of what makes them interesting and special, though the fewer the flaws and inclusions (blemishes inside of the stone), affect the brilliance — and value.

4 Cs diamond clarity

GIA's diamond clarity scale: 

Carat

A carat is the most objective of the 4 C's. It is simply the weight of the stone. A carat = 200 milligrams. Each carat is divided into 100 units, or “points.” A diamond that weighs .4 carats would be called a “40-point carat,” or a “40-pointer.”

The value of a diamond is a combination of all 4 C's — a large diamond with many inclusions is likely worth less than a smaller, clear, white diamond.

How do I get my diamond ring appraised near me?

An appraisal is different than a diamond lab report, or a certification from a qualified gemologist.

Most local jewelers in your community will offer an appraisal. This can be a good estimate of the replacement value of your jewelry, which can help you get it insured, and understand its value. Jewelers will often offer this for free.

However, if you want to know the true value of what your jewelry is worth, and how much you can get for it by selling, you really need a certified lab report.

GIA certification

There are just a couple internationally recognized jewelry grading laboratories, and these include the Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, based in New York City, and the International Gemological Institute, or IGI, based in Antwerp, Belgium.

Worthy works with both of these laboratories, which provide the most respected, independent, third-party certifications (a.k.a. lab reports) on your jewelry.

Agin, a certification, or grading report, is not the same as an appraisal.

An appraisal is typically done by a single jeweler, such as a jewelry store owner, based on their expert opinion. Some of these appraisers and jewelers are certified by GIA, but that does not make their appraisal “GIA certified.” GIA and IGI laboratories are equipped with extremely sophisticated grading equipment, and they provide value estimates based on databases of millions of recent sales.

An appraisal for insurance purposes (commonly provided by local jewelers), is typically much, much higher than the actual resale value of your diamond jewelry.

A GIA certificate, or IGI certificate, provides definitive grading information about your diamond or gemstone ring, earrings, necklace, brooch, or bracelet. The certificate will also provide a market value range for your item. Expect to pay $100 to $200 for most reports, though more valuable jewelry will cost more to grade.

If you chose to sell your engagement ring or other diamond or gemstone jewelry at Worthy, you will get a free IGI or GIA certificate, which is yours to keep, even in the event you chose not to sell.

What is a GIA report check?

Just as there are a lot of fake diamonds on the market, there are also a lot of fake GIA reports. If you are buying or selling jewelry, and you want to double-check whether the information on a GIA certificate is authentic (or if you lost your lab report), you can quickly enter the certificate number on GIA's site, and immediately access the report for free.

How much is a 1 carat diamond worth?

As outlined, there are many factors that determine the value of your diamond, including the cut, clarity, color, carat weight, as well as style, setting and the market at the time of sale.

The price you would pay for a diamond in a store, or retail price, is much higher than what you can expect to receive if you sold your diamond to a jeweler, or an online diamond buyer, or at auction.

Keep in mind: The large, center stone is mostly what determines your ring's value, not the total carat weight of all the stones combined.

Here are a few recent sales at Worthy.com:

1.16 carats oval-cut halo ring, H color, I1 clarity, sold at auction for $1,332

1.13 carats pear-cut, F color, VS1 clarity, sold at auction for $4,050

1.2 carats, round-cut solitaire ring, F color, VS1 clarity, sold at auction for $5,767

How much is a 2 carat diamond worth?

Again, these are prices based on the size and quality of the center stone, not total carat weight of all the diamonds in the piece. 

Here are a few recent Worthy sales of rings with center stones of approximately 2 carats:

2.02 carats cushion-cut solitaire ring, I color, SI2 clarity, sold at auction for $6,754

2.54 carats cushion-cut bridal set, J color, SI1 clarity, sold at auction for $8,827

2.01 carats round-cut, F color, SI1 clarity, sold at auction for $14,820

Do diamonds appreciate in value over time?

In other words, Is a diamond a good investment?

In terms of money, the short answer is: No. You are not likely to see your diamond jewelry appreciate in value over time.

In fact, expect that the price your receive at auction or from even a very reputable diamond buyer will be substantially lower than what you paid for it.

The reasons include:

  • Diamond buyers are really only interested in the center stone, which they can repurpose into other, more contemporary pieces of jewelry, or custom items for their clients.
  • The retail price you paid includes the design, smaller side stones, and the retail experience. A diamond wholesale buyer will melt the metal down to scrap.

This video does a good job explaining why you will get less money for your diamond than you paid for it:

That said, there are countless good reasons to sell your jewelry for cash. These include:

  • You need the money.
  • You don't wear or enjoy or like the jewelry, and so could use the cash from a sale to pay for a practical bill or an experience or purchase that you would enjoy.
  • The jewelry is a gift or inheritance attached to someone whom you have a negative or complicated relationship. In other words: The jewelry has bad energy for you. Cleanse that!

How to sell your jewelry online for the highest price

I did a search online of places to sell bridal jewelry online. Here is a post I did of all the top places to sell your jewelry online. If you have a significant ring, loose diamond (or branded watch) you expect would fetch more than $1,000 at market, I recommend Worthy, an online auction site that makes it very easy to sell all fine jewelry online, for a fair price.

Best yet, you can get a very good idea of whether Worthy is right for you even before you commit to working with them.

I like Worthy because their system is very transparent, they have an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, and their website is very easy to use.

They have historically been just focused on being a diamond buyer, but have branched out into high-end watches and are looking to expand further in the future.

Plus, there are dozens of reviews and video testimonials from very happy customers.

Check out my Worthy review to learn more.

How to sell your engagement ring online:

  1. Go to Worthy.com
  2. Enter your name and email, along with basic information (diamond color, carat weight, clarity, etc.) about your jewelry, including size and grade of your jewelry or stone.
  3. Receive an estimated market value for your piece right then and there. This whole process takes about 2 minutes.
  4. A very nice customer service representative calls to answer all your questions, and tell you what will happen next.
  5. Ship your item. If that price suits you, Worthy will send a FexEx delivery person to your house the next business day (or sometimes the same day! That blew my mind!), in which you send the jewelry, diamond or watch to them — Worthy pays for all shipping and insures the item for up to $1 million. Sweet!
  6. Agree on a “reserve price,” or the lowest price you are willing to accept.
  7. Your item is auctioned. Worthy will put your jewelry in front of at least 100 potential buyers worldwide, who can then bid on your item.
  8. Receive an offer within 7 days of Worthy receiving your item.
  9. Get paid. After you confirm the sale, you'll receive payment within 24 hours.

Selling heirloom or estate jewelry or a watch? I write about that selling antique and estate jewelry here.

Fees and guarantees

Worthy takes up to 22 percent of the sale price.

They are very transparent: if they don't sell your item for at least the reserve price, they return it to you, free of charge, no questions asked.

I also love that Worthy will pay you $100 if you successfully sell your auctioned item to an independent jeweler for a price higher than Worthy was able to offer.

Sell other types of fine jewelry and watches using Worthy

I have worked with Worthy for almost three years and have watched their reputation and service grow. So many women that follow me mention that they had a good experience selling their diamond engagement ring and other jewelry with Worthy, and had a good experience.

Worthy has grown and will help you sell other fine jewelry for the best price through their market place.

I researched the top places to sell loose diamonds online.

I also wrote about how to sell valuable necklaces, watches, and bracelets. Not sure what to do with that pretty Tiffany engagement ring? Read my post on selling Tiffany jewelry for the best price.

Heirloom, inherited, estate and antique jewelry are often confusing and emotional assets that can earn the owner money to honor their loved one in a meaningful way. Check out the estimated value of your jewelry box.

More ways to sell diamonds and gold jewelry

If you specifically want to research selling diamond jewelry or loose diamonds or gemstones, there are some quality resources online and in-person.

What about diamond upgrades and trade-ins?

The following national jewelry stores offer diamond upgrade and trade-in services, in which they will evaluate your jewelry, offer you a sum that you can then apply to another, more expensive piece of jewelry:

  • Kay Jewelers diamond upgrade and trade-in services
  • Jared diamond upgrade and trade-in services
  • Tiffany diamond upgrade policy
  • Nordstrom diamond upgrade policy

These are, in general, reputable jewelry retailers. But if you are looking to sell your diamond ring or other jewelry for the most cash, upgrade and trade-in services are not the best route. Why?

  • A local jewelry store — including a national chain — will not provide a certified lab report on you jewelry. A lab report is the only way to guarantee the dimensions of your diamond, and authenticate the price offered is a fair market rate. Even an appraisal is not the same as a lab report.
  • In other words, Kay Jewelers, Jared or Zales will extend an estimated value of what your diamond is worth — but you have no way of knowing what you could get for it on the open market
  • If you really want cash for your unused or unwanted jewelry, don't let a sales person talk you into getting a BIGGER, MORE EXPENSIVE piece of jewelry, when what you really want is cash — to pay off debt, buy a house, pay for college, a vacation, etc.
  • If your goal is to declutter your jewelry box and life of a piece of jewelry tainted with bad feelings and bad memories, those negative vibes may then attach to the new upgrade.

Takeaway: Just trade your diamonds for cash, and call it a day.

If your jewelry is modest, there are other options.

In my jewelry box were a couple of modest gold and diamond rings that a relative had given me when I married. Time to go!

I did some research and decided to try to sell the rings at CashforGoldUSA and CashforDiamondsUSA (they have the same parent company), one of those places that advertise on TV.

Those sites always seemed super-cheesy. But I researched this one.

The parent company, CJ Environmental, has a BBB rating of B+. Even better: A Fox News undercover investigation of three of the top-ranking websites that promise to buy your gold for top-dollar found that CashforGoldUSA paid customers 3x the other sites!

From past research I've done as a business journalist on selling gold jewelry (including dental fillings), I know mail-in services like this can be a good deal, as can your local pawn shop.

Just research them first.

I decided to try CashforDiamondsUSA.

It turned out to be really easy.

I plugged in my name and address on their website, they sent me a mailer, I stuck the jewelry in it, dropped it in the mailbox and two weeks later got a check (they also give you a tracking number to chart it online).

I was pleasantly surprised.

One of the rings – 12-carat gold with a couple of small diamonds – fetched a $159 check.

The other, similar, but of indeterminate quality, was actually returned.

I was at first disappointed, but the rejection made me trust the company more.

They were being honest: Nothing personal, the return implied, but your crappy ring is dead to us.

*Note, CashforGoldUSA has nothing to do with the scandal- and lawsuit-embroiled Cash4Gold.

Let go of old things, it makes space for new

The bottom line is that I sold an engagement ring that I didn't use, no longer wanted, and kept me holding on to a relationship that I was no longer in.

Plus, I got some cash that I needed at the time.

I don’t think it was insignificant that same month I started my first significant relationship in two years.

I also think that selling those diamond and gold rings has something to do with the fact that my ex and I have been getting along better than since before our split.

In ways I don't fully understand, I was freed.

Start the process of letting go of old things >>

Testimonials

Sierra Fein: “I recently used your services to sell an engagement and a wedding ring that I no longer needed after my divorce. When I was emotionally ready to sell these pieces, I went to my local jewelry store and was really disappointed with the small amount that they were willing to offer me. Using Worthy was so easy. I felt very comfortable once I spoke with a customer service representative. I received shipping labels, and I was able to watch the live auction. It over exceeded my reserve price and with the money, I am able to go back to school to become a teacher. Thanks so much, and I am happy to recommend your services to anybody else I know that’s in a similar situation.”

Christa Carrell: “HI wanted to say thank you again for helping me to sell a ring on your site. Everything went great, the process was seamless. You guys answered any questions that I had and I will definitely recommend you in the future. Again, thank you so much. I’m going to be using that money towards a vacation pretty soon.”

Kelly Witte: “I recently sold my Rolex Datejust women’s stainless steel watch on Worthy.com. My experience was a wonderful one. I was extremely impressed with the attentiveness and the response time from my sales representative. I also felt that he tried to get me the maximum amount of money that I wanted for my product, and I was very pleased with them. I am looking forward to the next purchase that I will be making with the money, which is a new upgraded version of my watch. So, I am extremely excited and I would definitely recommend Worthy.com for anything you want to sell in the future.”

Maura: “I have been looking to sell my ring for at least five years and I did not find any good ways of selling it. When I say “good ways” I definitely wasn’t coming close to getting the value that I would have liked to have gotten for the ring. I just wanted to sit on it, like a safety net. I felt like I had my safety net ready when I needed it, even though there was no way to actually get a decent price for it. So, when I discovered Worthy, of course, I wanted to look into it to see what I could get for my ring. I had a minimum in my head of what I wanted to get, and when I spoke to somebody at Worthy, which was nice when I went to the website, somebody called me to follow up, which I think was very helpful because it gave me the human touch of the process which continued throughout. So, I was very happy. When Mary called me, she asked me questions that were right on par with what I would have wanted somebody to ask. She made it very easy for me. I ended up coming into New York City because I’m close by in Connecticut, so I made it even easier for myself by popping in and making an appointment.”

Learn more about how much you could sell your engagement ring for at Worthy >>


How about you? Do you still have your engagement ring? Or did you sell your wedding ring, give it away, turn it into a necklace, or throw it out the car window into a ditch on the way home from the court date finalizing your divorce? Please share in the comments …


About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

151 Comments

  1. Get Rid of That Shit on April 21, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    […] Johnson on Single Wealthy Mom is a lifesaver and I quickly contacted Worthy.  So far my experience with them has been great and […]

  2. Denise on October 2, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    I’m going to sell my rings, and use the money to help buy my daughter’s wedding dress. That way the rings will go to her in some way, but be a blessing to her, instead.

  3. DonnaC on September 7, 2017 at 2:34 am

    I went to Cancun, got my belly pierced and had my diamond reset into a belly ring. Also had a fling with a hot Latino waiter…

  4. qua tang cuoc song on August 30, 2017 at 12:27 am

    Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for information about this subject
    for ages and yours is the greatest I have discovered so
    far. However, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you positive in regards to the supply?

  5. sharon on August 28, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    I would love to sell mine but when I tried to, I found out the “$10,000” diamond was fake. Seems appropriate based on my marriage experience. Live and learn!

  6. Shira on August 23, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Very great article. I wish you guys the best and good luck with your diamond engagement ring.

  7. Tashina on February 26, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    I am not divorced but my mother and father got divorced. My mom hung onto her ring for me. She thought multiple times about selling but didn’t. My step dad also hung onto his ring for his daughter. When my husband asked permission to marry me he was given the ring. I love it and it means so much to me.

    • Emma on February 27, 2017 at 9:25 am

      What exactly does it represent? Is it that love that brought your parents together, or something else?

  8. Sarah on February 9, 2017 at 1:17 am

    I held onto mine for 9 years after everything was done. I asked my daughter who was 13 if she would like me to save the rings for her (which I paid for our entire set and as well $21,000 in his schooling and he didn’t finish his degree). She declined and suggested I sell the rings. I went to a reputable jeweler in my area and was surprised how much I received!!! I have the money in savings bonds for kids for college. I slowly got rid of pieces of furniture and other household items and replaced with my own choices. My house is my own style now. Only thing I have left isn’t wedding dress and wedding photo albums I don’t know what to do with so packed away and put in storage……what did everyone do with their wedding albums:photos?

    • Emma on February 13, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Great experience … and good Q … I have all the pics … I like to remember the good times and feel those memories belong to my kids.

  9. patricia on December 22, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    I have a “show diamond…looking as if he spent a fortune. Go figure. Ex bought a one and three quarter diamond surrounded br nice bagets..six. bur the diamond was exactlythat. “LOOK WHAT I BOUGHT HER..” What looked like a 10,000 ring has so much carbon..worth maybe 1,500…I may donate it to a food bank or homeless shelter. Not doing me a darn bit of good hanging around.

    • Emma on December 23, 2016 at 6:46 am

      that sounds like a plan! Or … sell the ring and donate the $$ … might be more helpful to the charity.

  10. Lee on November 12, 2016 at 9:38 am

    After having my diamond engagement ring and wedding bands stowed in a safe for the last two years, I decided it’s time to get them out of my life. Appreciate all of the advice I found here. Whatever I get for the rings, I intend to donate half to the Democrats. Then I will let my hillbilly ex know just where his money was donated. #SweetRevenge.

    • William on November 16, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      LOL–Lee You are too funny…I feel like Ebeneezer…I want one ghost to show me hope for compassion, grace and forgiveness to drizzle down and peace to settle in

    • RC on July 14, 2017 at 1:51 am

      Brilliant!

Leave a Comment