So you’ve popped the question (or maybe you’re about to), but where do you find the perfect ring? A second hand engagement ring can be a beautifully sentimental piece of jewellery. Second hand and antique engagement rings are essentially little pieces of history. And what better gift to give?
When shopping for second hand engagement rings, there’s a few things you’ll want to consider. The quality of the ring, the authenticity of the seller, and of course the design! You can find a truly unique piece if you know what you’re looking for, and where to look for it.
Not only will you be able to find something one-of-a-kind when you shop second hand, but there is also the potential to save money too. Whether you decide to spend that saved money on your wedding, or buy a larger ring than you would otherwise be able to afford, the choice is yours!
Let’s jump in and help you find that special piece.
Second hand engagement rings
Are you looking to get more for your money with a second hand diamond ring? Perhaps find a one of a kind design? Something from decades gone by? There are many places where you can find a beautiful second hand engagement ring online.
Vintage engagement rings
Vintage and antique engagement rings are becoming more and more popular by the day. With the rise of circular fashion and vintage clothing and sustainability, many are extending this mindset to their jewellery too. After all, diamonds last forever!
If you’re buying an engagement ring from an era gone by, you can be quite sure that the diamonds will be in top condition. Diamonds, as you may already know, are extremely strong and durable. In fact, diamonds are the hardest natural substance found on earth.
There are lots of different decades that you can choose from, and each will have a specific style. Whether you’re looking for something Georgian, Edwardian Art Deco or Victorian, you will be able to find something for your loved one online. Here are some features to look out for when buying period jewellery:
Georgian pieces go way back (1714-1837), and diamonds became popular during this era. Rose cut and brilliant cut diamonds were introduced during this time. Designs often have nature influences such as birds, flowers, and feathers.
Victorians (1837 to 1901) loved their symbolism, and were true romantics. Engagement rings in this period were often in gold, and with large colourful gemstones. Queen Victoria had a snake engagement ring with emeralds which became highly popular during this period. However, in the mid-1890s, the solitaire (single stone) diamond engagement ring became popular, and is still a popular design today.
Edwardian jewellery (1901 to 1910) is all about the diamonds, most often set in platinum. You can easily recognise Edwardian jewellery due to how delicately embellished it is- often with filigree detailing and millegraining finishes.
Although heading into a store can be preferable, shopping online for a second hand engagement ring gives you so much more choice. You have access to styles all over the world- and remember, most rings are one of a kind, and so you’ll be hard pushed to find the same ring twice!
Save money on an engagement ring
If you’re not so into vintage styling, but you’d like to get more for your money, a second hand ring could be the answer. You can generally expect to save around 30% when buying second hand fine jewellery. That essentially means you can buy a 30% better diamond, should you wish to!
If you can save money on an engagement ring, you can instead put the rest of the money towards your wedding and future life together! It’s a no brainer.
You might also be interested in reading: Second Hand Furniture in London
Buying an engagement ring online
We shop for pretty much everything online- so why should an engagement ring be any different? When shopping online for a second hand engagement ring, you will find an incredible number of listings, from all over the world.
If your fiancé has got something very specific in mind, you are more likely to find it online than you are in a store. Shopping online for an engagement ring gives you choice, and lots of it. We are shopping online more than ever before, and photography and websites have only got better. You can now get a real feel for the way a piece looks from your computer screen.
What to look for when buying a second hand engagement ring
So what should you look out for when buying a second hand engagement ring? You want to ensure that you have looked at the piece from all angles- make sure that the photos you are looking at are very clearly showing the condition of the ring. If you have any doubts, request more photos from the seller.
When you are checking the quality and condition of the ring, you should check that the claws (the bits that hold the stones into the ring) are robust, and have not been worn away with age. This is something that a jeweller would be able to fix, but it’s ideal not to have this problem in the first place, because this is how stones fall out of rings. Something you definitely want to avoid as a newly engaged couple!
You’ll also want to consider what metal you would like the ring to be. Gold (yellow, white, rose) and platinum are the most popular choices. However, gold is rated by carat. In the UK, we usually use 9ct, 18ct, and 24ct gold. The most popular choice for fine jewellery such as an engagement ring is 18ct gold- it is a high carat, but still fairly durable.
If you’re specifically looking to purchase a diamond ring, you’ll also want to consider carat, clarity, cut and colour. Diamonds are graded according to these 4 categories, and the price increases considerably depending on where on the scale the stone falls into. Look out for diamond grading within the listings so that you can get an idea of the quality of stones that you are buying.
Where can you buy second hand engagement rings online?
There are hundreds of places that you can go online to purchase a second hand engagement ring, however some are more reliable than others. Here are some of my favourite recommended places to buy second hand engagement rings online:
Second hand engagement rings on Etsy
Etsy is, without a doubt, one of the best places to go to find beautiful second hand jewellery. In my opinion, you can find the most unique, one of a kind pieces on Etsy.
You can think of Etsy as a kind of online marketplace that allows you to shop at independent stores worldwide.
There are many sellers on the platform who are extremely knowledgeable antique and vintage jewellery sellers, whose stores are dedicated to fine jewellery. If you have a question about one of their listings? They are more than happy to help you.
It also feels great to be buying a piece from a small independent seller, who is clearly very passionate about the goods that they are selling to you. The sellers have already gone through the painstaking process of hand picking only the most exquisite second hand jewellery at auctions, house clearances and more, tested the jewellery for authenticity, and then cleaned or refurbished the piece to sell onwards again.
Buying a second hand engagement ring on Etsy could be the beginning of your great love story!
You might also be interested in reading: Thrift Stores in London- A Local Guide
Second hand engagement rings on eBay
eBay is an online auction site that you have probably already heard of- selling everything from new and used furniture, to clothing, to fine jewellery.
Bargain second hand jewellery can be found on eBay, but be aware that the jewellery is less likely to be as curated as the jewellery that you might find on Etsy, for example. On eBay you might find people who do not have the same passion and dedication to jewellery, and are more likely to be selling unwanted rings, or inherited jewellery that they no longer have a use for.
You are less likely to have as much information about the stones themselves, the history of the piece, and the knowledge of fine jewellery from the seller. That’s not to say that there are not dedicated sellers on the platform, but they are fewer and far between.
That said, search for ‘diamond ring’ on eBay and you will find thousands of listings pop up. You certainly get the most choice on eBay for second hand jewellery over any other online platform (or in person store, for that matter!)
Another benefit of buying on eBay, is that when you pay using PayPal, you automatically get buyer protection on all of your purchases. In their words, this means that “if your eligible purchase doesn’t arrive, or doesn’t match the seller’s description, we can reimburse you.” Always opt to pay with PayPal whenever you use eBay, so that if it doesn’t work out, you’re covered!
You might also be interested in reading: How To Find Great Vintage Clothes on eBay
Second hand engagement rings at pawn shops
Pawn shops might feel like an unexpected place to find an engagement ring, especially in the UK, but the truth is that you can find a lot of jewellery both in pawn shops and online at sites such as Cash Converters. Here you will find a huge number of ring listings, and often at a much lower price than you would find on other online auction sites.
Cash Converters will list rings by region, but they are also able to post out anything to you for £4.99. The information on the listings can often be a little sparse, so it would definitely be preferable to go into store to see the item for yourself. However, it’s also possible to request further information by either calling the store on the number listed on the description, or sending in a request via the ‘ask a question’ box.
Cash Converters also has a 14 day returns policy, so if you did order an item online, but it wasn’t exactly to your taste or what you expected, it’s very easy to return the item for a full refund.
Second hand engagement rings on Preloved
Preloved is perhaps a lesser-known online marketplace, but can still throw up some gems from time to time. The sellers on Preloved are all based in the UK and Ireland, and so you don’t have to worry about any hefty delivery fees.
It is slightly more difficult to filter through all of the listings on Preloved, but there are good chances that you might be able to find yourself a bargain on here as there is likely to be less competition than on the likes of eBay. Like eBay, you are less likely to be buying pieces from dedicated fine jewellery experts and the listings are unlikely to contain detailed information such as diamond grade and any other historical information.
That said, if you’re looking for something simple and classic, you might find it on Preloved for a snip of what you might pay in a jewellers! Read the listings carefully to make sure that you have all of the information about the piece ahead of buying.
Second hand engagement rings at auction
Without a doubt, auction houses are still a viable place to find second hand, vintage, and antique jewellery. Often, auction houses have quite limited hours, which means it’s not always possible to visit and bid in person. Instead, you can either view the lots online, and then visit in person on auction day, or you could keep the process entirely online.
Auction websites such as The Saleroom feature lots from auctions across the country (and even all over the world!). Although The Saleroom features a huge variety of items, you can filter listings by jewellery and still find hundreds of great items. The website is connected to over 700 different auction houses all over the world, and so you’re bound to find something special on this auction site.
Before you bid on an item, make sure that you have fully read and understood any fees and postage costs involved if you are the winning bidder. Usually a percentage of the sale price will need to be paid to the auction house to cover their costs. If the item is coming from abroad, you may also need to pay a high shipping fee, so do keep this in mind.
Second hand jewellers in London and beyond
And if you’d prefer not to shop online for a second hand engagement ring? You can of course go to a good old fashioned jewellery shop. There is a wealth of jewellery shops in London, any many independent jewellers will sell second hand and antique jewellery as well as brand new stock.
You’ve probably already heard of Hatton Garden in London- an elite area of jewellery shops with the most expensive and exquisite fine jewellery. If you’re heading to Hatton Garden, you are likely to pay a premium for a second hand or antique engagement ring here.
Stores to try in the Hatton Garden area:
The Vintage Jeweller – 26-29 St Cross St, London EC1N 8UH
Berganza– 88-90 Hatton Garden, Greville St, Holborn, London EC1N 8PN
Farringdons – 32B Greville St, Hatton Garden, Holborn, London EC1N 8TB
My best advice? Skip the London shops if you can and head straight to the Brighton Lanes. The antique and second hand jewellery stores here are fascinating, affordable, and there are lots of stores in the area that have been there for decades. The shops are independent, down to earth, and have gorgeous pieces that you’ll never find anywhere else.
Stores to try in the Brighton Lanes area:
Fidra – 47 Meeting House Ln, Brighton BN1 1HB
Baxter & Hanks – 1 Union St, Brighton BN1 1HA
Fetheray – 48 Meeting House Ln, Brighton BN1 1HB
Your checklist for buying second hand engagement rings
- Ring condition– check the condition of the ring itself, the claws, and the overall condition of the metal.
- Diamond grading– familiarise yourself with diamond grading- cut, clarity, colour and carat.
- Styles– if you know your loved one likes vintage styling? Brush up on your knowledge of Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian ring styles.
- Information– ask for more photos or information on a piece if you are buying online.