The internet has truly revolutionized the wedding planning process, providing eager soon-to-be-weds with access to a new world of inspiration, services and sellers. The pressure to find the big day must-haves - from the elegant dress to the talk-of-the-town caterer – has been eased by the online wedding market, with internet services often offering more ‘wallet friendly’ options.
A drastic surge over the last decade in the use of online auctions has also introduced future brides and grooms to the vintage and pre-loved jewelry market. At auction aggregator Barnebys you’ll find jewelry dealers – such as the RealReal - listing items from renowned jewelry designers at a discounted price. You’ll also find beautifully unique pieces which are a far cry from those available in run-of-the-mill high street jewelers – perfect for that all-important sparkler.
With many couples now opting for vintage and upcycled engagement and wedding rings, here are our top tips to consider when buying...
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to identify a counterfeit stone, so it’s crucial to buy through a certified jewelry expert. Reputable auction houses check for authenticity before listing an item, so you’re less likely to get caught out when purchasing from a reliable vendor. Be wary of the selling price - if the price seems too low you should always question the authenticity and quality of the item.
Most choose to wear their engagement ring on a daily basis, and so the ring must be durable and well-made. Be sure to check the quality of the stone's setting on a vintage ring. If it looks worn, loose or damaged, consider negotiating a lower price to cover the cost of resetting the stone. Antique stones can similarly be quite fragile, so check for hairline cracks or chips to the stone.
If you’ve found the perfect ring but the size isn’t quite right, don’t worry - resizing a vintage ring won’t detract from its value or worth. Making a ring slightly smaller or larger will not reduce the overall worth of the item, as the original composition of the item remains largely unchanged.
More and more couples are buying a vintage ring and re-setting it in a new metal, or melting down the antique gold or silver for reuse. This allows for a truly unique piece and offers the buyer far more choice when shopping for an antique item. So long as you like the cut and colour of the stone, you can remove it from its original casing and design your own band.
Silver and gold rings are stamped with easy-to-read markings, indicating the production date, location, quality of metal, and tradesman. By checking that the ring has these markings, it is easy to gage the age and quality of the ring. Often the stone will be older than the metal, as precious gems were commonly passed down through generations. Hallmarking guides are accessible online or you can ask a jewelry specialist.
Barnebys is the largest search service for art, antiques and collectibles, where brides and grooms can search for vintage engagement rings and more.
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