Engagement Rings

An increasing number of couples are choosing to buy an engagement ring at auction rather than on the high street.

Engagement ring

A platinum engagement ring mounted with a round cut sapphire (approx 1.26cts) and diamonds – £1500 at Kings Russell Auctioneers in London in July 2019.

In the auction room prices are typically lower and the choice can be far greater.

As a general rule, free from high street mark-ups and the depreciation that goes with buying new, ‘second-hand’ jewellery sold on the secondary market is priced around one third to a half of retail prices.

However, many brides-to-be are also drawn to antique and vintage pieces which offer a sense of history, quality and the individuality that allow the wearer to stand out from the crowd. Many old and antique cuts of jewels, for example, are no longer readily available. 

An older ring can be a unique one.

Engagement ring

An 18ct princess cut diamond five stone engagement ring (finger size N) – £360 at Plymouth Auction Rooms in Devon in May 2019.

What to look for

The classic engagement ring is the diamond solitaire. As with all gemstones, prices for diamonds vary mainly according to four things – its carat weight, its colour, its clarity and the cut – these are known as the four ‘Cs’ by gemmologists.

It is a matter of personal preference and managing the budget. For some people size of diamond is the most important criterion, in which case they may accept some ‘flaws’ (often called ‘inclusions’) in order to obtain the larger stone within their given budget. Others may prefer a higher-grade stone and accordingly settle for a smaller size. 

The best quality gemstones offered at auction have often, prior to sale, been submitted to a professional independent laboratory testing (a service provided by a number of different grading bodies).

It helps boost confidence in their rarity, beauty and authenticity.

Engagement ring

An 18ct white gold diamond engagement ring (finger size L), set with diamonds weighing an estimated combined weight of 1ct, with the central diamond approximately 0.70cts – £850 at Great Western Auctions in April 2019.

If diamonds are not your thing then look for rings with hard-wearing coloured gemstones – such as rubies and sapphires. Other less durable stones such as emerald or opal are good for special occasions but less so for everyday wear.

Finally, don’t forget to make sure the finger-size of the ring is correct for the person who will wear it.

What to do next

Decide how much you’d like to spend and use the search facility on thesaleroom.com to find engagement rings coming up for sale. You can filter your search by, among other things, price and by location of the auction house to narrow down your selection.

To research recent prices at auction so you can see how much Tiffany items have sold for before you can also try out the Price Guide.

If you are new to bidding check out our guides to buying at auction – it’s easy once you know how.

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