Jewelry Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Second Hand Engagement Ring

Large Diamond Ring with Halo of Diamonds

If you’re buying standard consumer items (like technology and clothes), it usually makes more sense to search for something that is brand new. Buying used goods usually means that you could end up buying something that’s unreliable. Does the same thing apply to a second hand engagement ring? Read more to find out!

The Pros and Cons of a Second Hand Engagement Ring

Second hand Diamond Engagement Rings

The Pros

  • Most second hand rings have much finer craftsmanship. See below.
  • Second hand rings are a more environmentally conscientious option
  • The price will sometimes be more affordable
  • The ring has a history, especially if it is vintage or rare. See below.
  • The patina of the platinum will be more developed. Read more about platinum.
  • A used ring will look brand new after a professional cleaning

The Cons

  • It’s not brand new
  • Some of the sellers are known to be unethical. See below.
  • The condition of the ring may be poor

Understanding the Advantages of Second Hand Rings

Large investment diamond halo engagement ring with bokeh

Although engagement ring production is advancing at a tremendous pace, and even allowing for the great many new designers and manufacturers there are around today, a pre-owned ring will almost always be a better option.

It may not necessarily always be less expensive, but it will bring with it an elegance and a history that only time can provide.

Plus, it’s not just diamonds that were used in engagement rings of times past. Rubies, sapphire, emeralds, and rubies are all very popular. These rings still look every bit as beautiful today as they did when the ring was first put on a finger.

Second Hand Jewelry Terminology

Second Hand Ring – A ring that has previously been purchased by a customer
Estate Ring – A ring that has previously been purchased and worn by a customer or a collector
Vintage Ring – An estate ring over the age of 20 years
Antique Ring – A vintage ring over the age of 100 years (sometimes 80 years is also called antique)

Buyers mistakenly consider estate, pre-owned, used, second-hand to mean the same thing. To understand the technical differences between them, click here.

Rarity of Second Hand Rings

Second Hand Engagement Rings in jewelry showroom

Today, with advanced manufacturing techniques, it’s relatively simple for a designer to recreate a ring in reasonably quick order. If you don’t think that sounds right, all you need to do is search google for celebrity engagement rings, and then search in Instagram for any of the examples Google gives you.

Okay, it may not have the same size diamond, and it may be silver instead of platinum, but someone will have produced a reasonable facsimile quite easily.

Add professional machines and lasers into the equation, and imitation becomes a very precise art form. That doesn’t mean brand new rings are inferior, of course, just that pre-owned can bring a little bit more individuality to the table.

Assuming that the second hand ring that you are looking for is over 40-50 years old, the ring has the advantage of being vintage (going on antique). High-quality vintage rings can collect a premium as the years go on. Buying a second hand ring means that your engagement ring is a lot closer to becoming an investment.

In the days before machine and laser cutting, every diamond was absolutely unique, as they were all cut and polished by hand. Yes, this means that some weren’t as accurately cut by today’s standards, but that doesn’t matter. The beauty in an antique engagement rings, especially when there’s a spectacular diamond that sits atop, is tough to beat. Also, designers weren’t so coy about using rubies, emeralds, or sapphires in engagement rings, so the variety of designs was far greater than you might imagine.

Where do Second Hand Rings come from?

The answer to this question can be difficult to determine, so instead, we suggest changing the question to “Who is selling me the ring?”.

If you can determine the reliability and ethical stance of the jewelry company, you will probably have a good idea if the ring is safe to purchase.

In addition to talking to the owners, there are a few other precautions that you can take to ensure that the ring is reliable:

  • Ask for diamond certification
  • Ensure that the jeweler has a valid certificate to sell in your state
  • Read online reviews of the jewelry company or person selling the ring
  • Ask the salesman where he purchased the ring from
  • Ensure that the jewelry company doesn’t play games with the payment process

Unfortunately, many second hand engagement ring dealers have no idea where the ring originally came from, but if you trust the dealer to be ethical, then it is unlikely that he purchased the ring from an unscrupulous source.

How to Find Pre-owned Rings?

second hand engagement ring with feathers

Pre-owned engagement rings find their way to the marketplace in a variety of ways. On many occasions, it’s as a result of an estate sale, but sometimes it is simply because the present owner is looking to liquidate the value held.

Whatever the reason, browsing pre-owned engagement rings, and especially antique and vintage rings, can be tremendously fulfilling.

Browse the internet, and you’ll be able to find many collectors of pre-owned rings. Once you have established that any re-seller is reputable, start searching for your dream ring.

Final Thought

The term “second hand” often has a negative connotation attached to it. There are some people who assume that a used ring somehow has lost its original magic. But that’s not the case. The beauty, history, and elegance of a ring remain with each ring and continuously grow with each adventure.

If the ring is beautiful, it will remain that way despite the passing of time.


About Benjamin Khordipour

Benjamin Khordipour is one of the jewelry researchers and gemologists at Estate Diamond Jewelry. He received his official gemological degrees from both the GIA and GUBELIN. He also regularly contributes to Business Insider, Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, and Brides Magazine. Benjamin was born in New York and joined Estate Diamond Jewelry in 2014. He is passionate about vintage jewelry and diamonds. This blog was built on his strong belief that jewelers have a responsibility to properly educate their customers. In 2019, Benjamin co-authored the book The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. His favorite vintage jewelry era is the Art Deco Era and his favorite type of stone is the Kashmir Sapphire. He also collects rare antique pins.