It happens all the time: the engagement falls through. The wedding is called off. The fiancés part ways. Love can be fleeting.
Diamonds, though, are forever. So what happens to a leftover engagement ring?
Some might try to return the gem to the store. Others will look to traditional pawn shops or diamond resellers, where they will often receive a fraction of the sums they shelled out for the investment piece — generally only about 30 to40%.
Enter Chris Del Gatto.
Del Gatto is a jewellery expert: he’s worked on all sides of the diamond and fine jewellery markets over the past three decades, studying at the Gemological Institute of America and developing an expertise in appraisal and resale.
He realised that the public was not being treated well when it came to the reselling of gems.
“The secondhand [jewellery] market was the Wild West,” he told Business Insider.
In some ways, it still is. The market is dominated by the interests of buyers, who are primarily seeking to purchase at the lowest price. That means individual sellers tend to receive fairly low offers, and don’t necessarily have the resources to understand the value of what they’re selling, what comparable products are going for, or how to find the best deals.
In other words, the seller has been at an unfair disadvantage.
Del Gatto, for his part, is endeavouring to create a new experience for those looking to offload their estate jewellery, gems, and fine watches by building a luxury brand on the secondhand buy-side.
To do this, he’s launched an all-encompassing jewellery buying service named DEL GATTO. It’s what he calls a “complete solution.” And with secondhand retail marketplaces like eBay, Poshmark, The RealReal, and ThredUp flush with inventory and customers, it’s no wonder DEL GATTO — which launched late last year — has gained momentum, currently growing at 45% annually and completing up to 200 fine jewellery and diamond transactions a month.
Here’s how it works: when you’re ready to part with a piece, you can send in a photo via text or email. The DEL GATTO gemologists will return an estimate within 24 hours.
Your choice: list the piece on their marketplace, or sell directly to them for an up-front payment, like a traditional reseller.
If you go the route of the marketplace — cheekily called I Do Now I Don’t — your item will, on average, sell within 10 to 14 days. As the company is taking a 15% commission of the final sale, instead of trying to buy from you directly at a discount, you’re more likely to recoup a higher value on your jewel.
When you’re offloading to a traditional resale buyer, you might be able to come away with around a third of your purchase price. But with the marketplace, Del Gatto says, that return can increase to between 60 and 75%.
And when you’re talking pieces that you shelled out tens of thousands of dollars for, it’s a serious difference — and a win-win for both the seller and the buyer.
The response to the marketplace option has been, in his words, “overwhelming.” They just sold a 5-carat pear-shaped diamond for $50,000, and a 10-carat square cut for $106,000, all transactions conducted through the online marketplace, which builds in security features to ensure safe exchanges.
They’re seeing all kinds of customers, too, including a strong 25- to 35-year-old base getting in on the reselling game.
If you’re buying an investment piece now that you might want to offload later — especially something name-brand, like Cartier or Van Cleef & Arpels — keep the box, as well as any verification papers or receipts. Having the original packaging will give the item a serious resale boost, Del Gatto said.
And if you’re looking to sell, start by being informed. When it comes to appraisal, you should trust experts who have experience from the Gemological Institute of America or the American Gem Society, and check the Better Business Bureau for ratings.
Whether you’re looking to cash in on a love gone awry or want to part ways with an old-fashioned heirloom, DEL GATTO might be a good place to start. They will take anything of value — usually $1,000 and above, although you can find items listed for as low as $65 on the site.
Because diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but cold, hard cash can be very friendly, too.