Buying jewelry second hand can offer the same quality and glamour found in brand-new pieces but at a much more affordable price. However, when you opt to buy pre-owned jewelry, a handful of considerations should be made before making your purchase. Here’s an expert’s guide to buying used jewelry.
The Advantages of Buying Pre-Owned Jewelry
Jewelry enthusiasts opt for used jewelry over new pieces for many reasons, with one of the most enticing draws being their affordability. Unlike their brand new counterparts, second-hand luxury watches, rings, necklaces, and other jewelry items don’t come with extreme price mark-ups. Instead, you get a slightly used but quality piece at a discounted price, which allows you to get more value for money. Some of these pieces are sold after very little wear, making them virtually brand new for as little as half the price.
Brand new jewelry depreciates the minute you step out of the jewelers. However, pre-owned jewelry tends to retain its value over time. What’s more, if you purchase a gold piece, the ever-increasing price of gold may help your treasured item’s value go up in several years. The same applies to rare or luxury items, which often become valuable collector’s items if the model is discontinued.
In addition to the high quality and affordability of used jewelry, it’s a more sustainable option for environmentally conscious wearers. When you buy second hand, you’re not adding to consumer demand for mining diamonds and other gemstones, which has harmful environmental consequences in areas where heavy mining occurs.
Secondhand jewelry also offers buyers unique and vintage styles with storied pasts. Each used piece has a unique history that gives it special meaning and significance. This not only makes each piece more memorable but allows jewelry wearers to sport stylish pieces that are unlikely to be found anywhere else. There are endless selections of vintage items that you can collect to grow a one-of-a-kind collection.
How to Find Used Jewelry
Many jewelers will sell both new and used jewelry, while other stores sell secondhand pieces exclusively. Typically, you can identify used jewelry under labels such as “estate jewelry,” “pre-owned jewelry,” “previously owned,” or “refurbished.” You’ll usually see signage or price tags that list significantly discounted prices in addition to these signs.
How to Check for Authenticity
To ensure you’re getting great value for your money, you must ensure the piece’s authenticity before buying. While many reputable jewelers follow a thorough inspection process and have specialists on hand with the expertise and qualifications to identify precious gems and metals, it’s essential to be wary of dishonest vendors. To avoid being duped or misled into buying a fake product, it’s best to go through a trusted retailer. However, if you’re buying from a private seller, follow these tips to check the used jewelry’s authenticity:
- Check for stamps or hallmarks that state the carat or standard of metal. For yellow and white gold, look for carats such as 9ct (375) or 22ct (916). For used silver pieces, check for the standard 925.
- Look for brand marks such as Tiffany & Co., especially if the seller claims it’s a brand-name piece.
- Do the magnet test to check for genuine metal. If it’s real gold, for instance, it won’t stick to the magnet. If it’s fake gold, it will.
- Ask if there is a certificate of authenticity.
- Scrutinize any documentation that comes with your second-hand piece. If there are spelling errors, poor grammar, or illegible text, it may not be authentic.
How to Avoid Scams
While reputable jewelers will always label their used jewelry as such, other more shady sellers may try to sell you used jewelry under the guise of it being new. You should never pay full price for jewelry that’s been used, which is why it’s important to exercise caution when shopping for pre-owned pieces.
In addition to doing your due diligence to confirm the piece’s authenticity, it’s essential to look closely for signs that indicate the piece is used. Unless otherwise stated, scratches, small chips, worn-down prongs, or other wear signs are strong indicators that the item has been used. If a piece has any of those signs of wear and the seller still maintains that it’s new, it’s best to take your business elsewhere. It’s recommended that you find a trustworthy retailer by doing your research, reading reviews, and asking detailed questions before buying to ensure you are getting an authentic piece for a fair price.
Other Factors to Consider
Buying used jewelry has a host of advantages, but there are some downsides to be mindful of as well. Because these pieces have been worn to varying degrees by their previous owners, it’s important to remember that specific components like clasps, chain links, straps, prongs, and more may not be in pristine condition. They may need fixing or replacing soon after purchase. If you’re not prepared to maintain your gently used purchase properly, you could risk losing valuable stones or other components due to it coming apart while you’re wearing it.
If you want a used piece that doesn’t require immediate fixes, it’s best to avoid jewelry that is overly tattered or worn or which has outright chips or breaks. If you’re willing to spend a little extra on repairs, be sure to inquire about the cost of repairs with the jeweler and factor that in before making your purchase.
Be aware that customization options are limited with used jewelry. Outside of cleanings, polishings, and engravings, it’s more difficult to make custom changes to secondhand jewelry than it is with brand new or completely custom-made pieces. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you are content with the piece in the state you find it in.
Many trusted jewelers specialize in secondhand jewelry, and pre-owned watches that offer quality and affordability. Buyers looking to add unique or vintage pieces to their collection can find authentic, luxurious items at great values that may increase over time. Using a reputable retailer and doing your due diligence, you can find the perfect used jewelry to add to your collection.