Turns out consigned engagement rings are having a major moment! At least that's what The RealReal has discovered. The site specializes in high-end consignment: yes that means used Chanel, Saint Laurent, Dior, Cartier, and more at a fraction of the price. This month, the brand released its mid-year report which took a deep dive into what's trending in the luxury market. With over four million members, Chief Merchant Rati Levesque believes The RealReal's discoveries and conclusions veraciously echo what's going on in the retail space.
RealReal naturally has a wedding shop, which features every type of ring imagineable. And we were surprised to learn that brides-to-be are falling hard for consigned engagement rings: to the tune of a 280 percent jump this year. To get to the bottom of this pronouncement and to gather some 2017 predictions, we talked to The RealReal's Senior Category Director of Fine Jewelry and Watches Michael Groffenberger.
What do you attribute to the brand's 280% increase in engagement ring sales?
Our new valuation offices have provided an open and transparent environment for consignors to comfortably consign their engagement rings, which has increased the supply of engagement rings on The RealReal substantially. At these valuation offices, we offer fine jewelry and watch consignors a luxe and personal place to receive a free valuation of their fine jewelry and watch pieces with one of our gemologists. There is no obligation to consign. After a successful pilot in NYC in August of last year, we have scaled the valuation office concept to Chicago, Los Angeles, and now San Francisco.
Photo: Courtesy of The RealReal
You sell everything from Cartier to rings that don't have a specific brand name, but are the best in quality. How do you approach what you feature?__
We use GIA's four Cs to evaluate the quality of a diamond ring (cut, color, clarity and carat weight). In general, we do not accept diamonds that have unstable treatment or enhancement done to the stone. Our certified gemologists test all stones for these things in order to ensure we are representing the product appropriately. Brands are definitely less of a major factor in engagement sales, since diamonds are evaluated using the same GIA standards regardless of which brand places them in a mounting.
What tips should a spouse take before purchasing a consigned engagement ring? And what about wedding bands?
Focus on the diamond (and make sure the company has described it thoroughly), mountings are generally inexpensive and can be remade by a skilled jeweler easily. If the diamond is the size, shape and quality you are looking for, it is something you should buy. Remember that diamonds are all billions of years old, so getting hung up on whether or not it is new or used is not important. For wedding bands, I recommend focusing on the ring size and the fit of the ring overall. Most wedding bands cannot be easily sized, so it is important to check your ring size and make sure that the ring you are buying will fit.
Are there are any dos and don'ts to buying consigned rings?
Do act fast! Our engagement rings are priced very fairly given the diamond market. Because we remove all of the middle men from the process of diamond trading, the prices are significantly lower than new rings even though they are identical. (With most jewelry dealers, diamonds can change hands 4-6 times before reaching an end consumer, adding expense along the way.)
Don't get hung up on why the ring is consigned. Consignors part with rings for a multitude of reasons, some good and some bad, and it can just as often be the case that a ring was consigned after bringing joy to someone's life for many years.
Are there any wedding accessory and ring trends you can predict for next year?
The halo setting will subside as people look to more simple, single stone mountings .
Photo: Courtesy of The RealReal
Is there anything else we need to know about consigned engagement rings?
Consigned engagement rings are a great way to purchase a beautiful ring at a reasonable price, while avoiding some of the significant environmental impacts of mining rough diamonds from the earth. Not only is it a good deal, but it is sustainable, and trust me, the recipe for pure carbon hasn't changed much over the last billion or so years, so the end result for you is exactly the same.