Something Old, Something New: The Benefits of Buying a Secondhand Engagement Ring

reasons you should buy your wedding and engagement rings secondhand catherine trenton jewelry
This post was sponsored by Catherine Trenton Jewellery. Wedding photos by Lindsey Pemberton for Leah and Daniel Wise.

Daniel and I got married eight years ago this July on a sunny day in Lakeland, Florida. 

Looking back on our wedding day, there are very few things I would have done differently. I had just discovered Etsy, so a lot of the details were a combination of artisan goods and DIY. We had a big wedding party, which meant practically all of our friends were an integral part of the day. We ate Turkish food at the rehearsal dinner and put on a love poetry contest at the reception. All in all, it was wonderful.

But these were also the days before I had woken up to the exploitation in every industry that intersects with the wedding industry, from diamonds to dresses. I love my sapphire and diamond engagement ring, but it most certainly wasn't sourced ethically. And, while Daniel's ring was made-to-order, I'm sure the raw materials weren't sourced from mines that specifically avoid child labor.

If I were getting married today, I would have to consider these things. But it's not always easy to when you're on a budget or have a specific design in mind...
reasons you should buy your wedding and engagement rings secondhand catherine trenton jewelry
That's why I advocate buying secondhand.

Why It Makes Sense to Buy Your Engagement & Wedding Rings Secondhand

1. You're opting out of a psychologically and physically exploitative marketplace.

The wedding industry preys on our insecurities in a big way to encourage us keep up with the Joneses, buying more than we need. The average cost of a wedding in the US (as of 2016) is over $35,000 and rising, and that doesn't even include the rings. From my own experience, I know that wedding planners, reception halls, caterers, and dress clerks will do everything they can to upsell you because they know that you're trying to make this event measure up to everyone's expectations.

Add to that the strong possibility that your dress was made in a sweatshop and your gold diamond ring was mined by child slaves and there's a strong case for sticking it to the man by avoiding the mainstream industry altogether.

2. You're saving money on an expensive heirloom. 

Chances are you're going to be saving for awhile to purchase the kind of ring you'll want to pass down to the kids, so if you're on a budget, it makes good sense to look for the ring you want secondhand. You'll get a better price without skimping on quality.

3. You're making good use of a luxury item that may have not been used otherwise.

From mining to designing to production, a lot of work goes into creating a beautiful piece of jewelry. I often think of secondhand from the perspective of respecting the original maker. It seems a shame to let things languish when they can be repurposed, reused, and cherished for years to come.

Where to Buy Pre-Loved Rings

For the past few months, I've been emailing back and forth with Tina at Catherine Trenton Jewellery. Based in Australia, Catherine Trenton Jewellery specializes in the resale of Tiffany & Co. wedding and special occasion rings. Why luxury jewelry? As Tina explained to me:

I believe in preserving the workmanship of a beautifully designed piece to prevent this being broken down into raw materials and then being re-sold as new.  

The advantage of buying through a dealer like Catherine Trenton is that their staff is able to appraise and verify the authenticity of the rings they sell, as well as include all original documentation, so you know you're getting a high quality ring priced well below the original retail price. I did a few price comparisons and it's really remarkable how affordable the secondhand pieces are (around $700-5,000 USD) compared to buying new ($15,000 and up). This piece, for instance, comes out to $4,816 USD, compared to a similar new ring from Tiffany and Co. priced at $15,100.
reasons you should buy your wedding and engagement rings secondhand catherine trenton jewelry
Catherine Trenton Pieces: One | Two | Three

I know luxury rings aren't everyone's cup of tea, whether due to budget or style, but I do think that if you're going to own something of great value, it makes sense to be a good steward of both resources and personal finances by finding a secondhand source.

You can search Catherine Trenton's Pre-Loved selections either by clicking here or by using the Search box and typing in "pre-loved" or "pre loved." New items are added frequently. Catherine Trenton Jewellery ships internationally.

P.S. The Catherine Trenton Jewellery website provides some great tips on purchasing jewelry secondhand and why it's often the better option.

Shop Catherine Trenton Pre-Loved here

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reasons you should buy your wedding and engagement rings secondhand catherine trenton jewelry

the moral wardrobe: an epic ten thousand villages review + giveaway

ten thousand villages outfitten thousand villages giveaway
When Ten Thousand Villages reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in a collaboration, I was delighted. Ten Thousand Villages holds a special place in my heart as one of the first fair trade shops I ever visited, long before I even knew what fair trade was. They're also credited with inventing the fair trade model as we know it back in the late 1940s when Edna Ruth Byler came back from a trip to Puerto Rico determined to expand the market for artisans there.

Ten Thousand Villages works with hundreds of artisan partners around the world with a mission to empower women, build relationships, preserve cultural arts, sustain livelihoods, and show dignity. In my experience buying from Ten Thousand Villages for several years, the products are well made, with attention given to detail and consistency. Plus, they make great gifts and their Christmas ornaments are lovely.
  ten thousand villages outfitEthical Details: Top and Skirt - thrifted; Shoes - Sseko Designs c/o MadeFAIR; Necklace and Earrings - c/o Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages sent me the Honeycomb Blossom Necklace and Earring Set made by Tara Projects in India. The pendant pieces are made from dyed bone sourced as a byproduct from animals that have either died of natural causes or are killed for food production. My position on material sourced from animals is that it must be a byproduct of a preexisting industry so that as much of the animal is used as possible, so I'm glad to hear that. The bone makes these delicate and super lightweight, so sensitive ears will have no issue wearing the earrings. I also appreciate the unexpected way the tri-flower necklace pendant is attached to the chain. It feels very contemporary.

ten thousand villages outfit
The spring-time exuberance of this set inspired me to get out and take photos on one of those perfect, breezy, warm-in-the-sun, cool-in-the-shade early spring days. And now that the Northern Hemisphere is hurdling toward warmer weather, I'm excited to be giving away not one, but THREE Honeycomb Blossom Necklace and Earring sets. Details below.
  ten thousand villages charlottesville
I'm honored to not only be working with Ten Thousand Villages Corporate, but to be collaborating with my local Ten Thousand Villages store (Sallie and her team are the bomb!) to offer two ways to enter the giveaway.

Option 1: Enter to win one set at the Charlottesville Store. 

You'll have an opportunity to win one Honeycomb Blossom Necklace and Earring Set when you enter at the Charlottesville Ten Thousand Villages on the Downtown Mall. The contest will run for one week at that location, so check the store for details.

The address is:
105 W Main St
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Option 2: Enter to win a set for you and a set for a friend on my Instagram account (@stylewiseblog).

Head over to my instagram account for the opportunity to win 2 necklace and earring sets, one for you and one for a friend you tag in the comments. 

This contest will run for one week. The Charlottesville store will designate its own entry period and rules, and information can be found in store. The Instagram contest, in collaboration with Ten Thousand Villages Corporate, will run until Thursday, April 21st at 11:59 pm EST. Winners will be selected randomly.


the moral wardrobe: Greenola Style (and a giveaway!)

greenola style giveaway
fair trade giveaway

Greenola Style uses "fashion as a tool to create positive change in the world." The company provides a global platform for artisans in Bolivia and Kenya through their website, offering accessories and jewelry that adhere to fair trade guidelines as defined by the Fair Trade Federation. They also donate a portion of profits to Solidarity Bridge, which helps Bolivian artisans access quality healthcare for both themselves and their families.

They sent me a beautiful necklace and bracelet set made of dyed acai seads and sparkling beads. It's not something I would normally pick out for myself, but I've worn it a lot since I received it. It adds a graphic touch to simple outfits and works well with a variety of colors and patterns. Plus, it's affordable - this is something I could have purchased for myself without stretching my budget.

the moral wardrobe: Greenola Style (and a giveaway!)
instagram giveaway

After a week of under-dressing for cool, early spring weather, I finally gave in and wore leggings. But then it was humid and 75, so I was uncomfortably warm! This season would be unpredictable anywhere, but I'm told Charlottesville has a mind of its own when it comes to weather. 

Greenola Style acai seed necklace

Greenola Style is offering a pretty sweet giveaway! Enter to win their Mavia Earrings and 2 Elizabeth stacking rings on instagram! Click this link or find the graphic shown below on instagram (@stylewiseblog) and make sure to follow the entry steps.

instagram giveaway


The giveaway will go live on instagram at 8:30 am, April 8 and will run until Wednesday, April 15 at 11:59 pm EST; the winner will be announced by Saturday, April 18 on instagram. Open to readers in countries where Greenola Style ships.

my jewelry collection

minimalist jewelry collection on

In middle school, I decided I should only wear one piece of jewelry at a time and I still believe less is more. I don't wear a lot of jewelry, but I have a fairly large collection of pieces that get their moment to shine periodically.

j crew elephant charm necklace
butterfly wing necklace

My current favorites include gold and brass items, geometric designs, and the occasional animal-inspired piece. The locket necklace above has a real, sustainably harvested butterfly wing fragment inside.