This is the story of a ring.
A ring that wasn’t.
My husband scored it for 90% off when the economy started to tank and jewelry stores were dropping like flies in the dead heat of the summer.
His intention was to purchase any old ring solely for the opal stone, and have it redesigned into something (*cough*) more my taste. It was to be a surprise wedding ring upgrade.
You see, I’m an opal girl. My current wedding ring is an opal, and I’ve always loved it. But what girl would turn down an upgrade if it stared her in the face? That’s what my husband thought too.
He was in the process of trying to get a hold of our friend the jewelry designer when I unknowingly foiled his secret plan…by finding the ring receipt he’d left on the dresser. Hence, he was forced to fess up to his clandestine mission.
But my catching him was a blessing in disguise. After scrutinizing the receipt a little more, we noticed it said the words “lab opal,” and upon further internet searching we learned that’s just a fancy name for synthetic. The fire-sale jeweler had failed to tell him that part.
In the end, we decided it didn’t make much sense to invest in designing a new ring around a synthetic stone.
But now comes the hard part. What do we do with the thing?
Alright folks, get out your math brains. If the ring was purchased for $80, which was 90% off retail, that would make the full retail price about $800, right?
So for a ring that originally sold for $800, you’d think we could turn it around get at least our $80 investment back, if not more, maybe. Right?
Oh so WRONG.
After visiting one pawn shop and two jewelry dealers, the best price I’ve been offered is $40. That’s about 40% of it’s gold weight value in grams. If I turn on my best negotiating skills, I might be able to talk them up to 50% or 60% of it’s gold value, but that still wouldn’t get me near the $80 investment. And unfortunately, the market for selling lab opals on eBay is pretty grim too.
So this whole ring thing has got me thinking:
A. The mark-up in the jewelry business must be insane!
B. For jewelry originally priced at $800 to suddenly drop to near nothing right after we take it home, that has to be the worst sort of depreciation ever.
C. Have we all been duped by the jewelry business into thinking that those shiny rocks are a worthy investment?
D. Does all jewelry depreciate this badly? Or is it just the vast evil empire of synthetic opals?
In order to answer my questions, I turned to eBay. Doesn’t eBay hold all the answers to life’s questions anyways?
And while I was there, I became distracted by shiny things.
This exercise answered none of my original questions, but helped me decide if I ever got a new wedding ring, I would buy it on eBay! Attach the word “vintage” to “opal” to “ring” and you have my attention.
But to get a more, um, complete answer, I did a little search on the depreciation of diamonds and found The Diamond Myth written at The Atlantic.
Though this article leans towards the theory that De Beers has duped us all with clever marketing, it does poignantly state that “the buyers, not the sellers, control the price” in the diamond resale business.
So it’s not necessarily that diamonds (or synthetic opals, or any jewels) lose their value over time. It’s just incredibly difficult to find the right buyer. And if you paid full retail to begin with, well then, getting your investment back on the resale market won’t come without a big hit.
It’s the same reason the blouse I once bought for $60 will only sell for $1 at my yard sale, because that’s what the market is willing to pay for it.
So the moral of the story is this: don’t try to sell your wedding ring.
As long as it has worth and meaning to you, that’s all that matters anyways.
And if you’re buying a new ring, the age-old retail rule applies: sales are your friends.
So, my lovely readers, back to eBay. Cool place to get some sparkly treats, or way too risky? Do you have any savvy jewelry buying tips? Do spill. And what should I do with this darn ring?
PS: I’d love to hear your wedding ring tales too.