Something Old, Something New: The Benefits of Buying a Secondhand Engagement Ring

This post was sponsored by Catherine Trenton Jewellery. Wedding photos by Lindsey Pemberton for Leah and Daniel Wise.

Daniel and I got married eight years ago this July on a sunny day in Lakeland, Florida. 

Looking back on our wedding day, there are very few things I would have done differently. I had just discovered Etsy, so a lot of the details were a combination of artisan goods and DIY. We had a big wedding party, which meant practically all of our friends were an integral part of the day. We ate Turkish food at the rehearsal dinner and put on a love poetry contest at the reception. All in all, it was wonderful.

But these were also the days before I had woken up to the exploitation in every industry that intersects with the wedding industry, from diamonds to dresses. I love my sapphire and diamond engagement ring, but it most certainly wasn’t sourced ethically. And, while Daniel’s ring was made-to-order, I’m sure the raw materials weren’t sourced from mines that specifically avoid child labor.

If I were getting married today, I would have to consider these things. But it’s not always easy to when you’re on a budget or have a specific design in mind…

That’s why I advocate buying secondhand.

Why It Makes Sense to Buy Your Engagement & Wedding Rings Secondhand

1. You’re opting out of a psychologically and physically exploitative marketplace.

The wedding industry preys on our insecurities in a big way to encourage us keep up with the Joneses, buying more than we need. The average cost of a wedding in the US (as of 2016) is over $35,000 and rising, and that doesn’t even include the rings. From my own experience, I know that wedding planners, reception halls, caterers, and dress clerks will do everything they can to upsell you because they know that you’re trying to make this event measure up to everyone’s expectations.

Add to that the strong possibility that your dress was made in a sweatshop and your gold diamond ring was mined by child slaves and there’s a strong case for sticking it to the man by avoiding the mainstream industry altogether.

2. You’re saving money on an expensive heirloom. 

Chances are you’re going to be saving for awhile to purchase the kind of ring you’ll want to pass down to the kids, so if you’re on a budget, it makes good sense to look for the ring you want secondhand. You’ll get a better price without skimping on quality.

3. You’re making good use of a luxury item that may have not been used otherwise.

From mining to designing to production, a lot of work goes into creating a beautiful piece of jewelry. I often think of secondhand from the perspective of respecting the original maker. It seems a shame to let things languish when they can be repurposed, reused, and cherished for years to come.

Where to Buy Pre-Loved Rings

For the past few months, I’ve been emailing back and forth with Tina at Catherine Trenton Jewellery. Based in Australia, Catherine Trenton Jewellery specializes in the resale of Tiffany & Co. wedding and special occasion rings. Why luxury jewelry? As Tina explained to me:

I believe in preserving the workmanship of a beautifully designed piece to prevent this being broken down into raw materials and then being re-sold as new.  

The advantage of buying through a dealer like Catherine Trenton is that their staff is able to appraise and verify the authenticity of the rings they sell, as well as include all original documentation, so you know you’re getting a high quality ring priced well below the original retail price. I did a few price comparisons and it’s really remarkable how affordable the secondhand pieces are (around $700-5,000 USD) compared to buying new ($15,000 and up). This piece, for instance, comes out to $4,816 USD, compared to a similar new ring from Tiffany and Co. priced at $15,100.

Catherine Trenton Pieces: One | Two | Three

I know luxury rings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, whether due to budget or style, but I do think that if you’re going to own something of great value, it makes sense to be a good steward of both resources and personal finances by finding a secondhand source.

You can search Catherine Trenton’s Pre-Loved selections either by clicking here or by using the Search box and typing in “pre-loved” or “pre loved.” New items are added frequently. Catherine Trenton Jewellery ships internationally.

P.S. The Catherine Trenton Jewellery website provides some great tips on purchasing jewelry secondhand and why it’s often the better option.

Shop Catherine Trenton Pre-Loved here

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Leah Wise

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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