01/04/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

"Recycle" Your Old Engagement Ring for Cash

Time to give more green credit to the recessionistas. A New York Daily News story from today examined the trend of women selling their old engagement rings to websites like after marriages or engagements dissolve. In better times, women often kept the rings for sentimental reasons (even if the relationship ended badly) or turned them into necklaces or bracelets. Now, they're craving cash.

By selling to an online retailer, a woman is likely to recoup more of the ring's value than if she were to sell it to a wholesaler. Basically, it's a fancier online version of a pawn shop. A woman is legally allowed to sell her ring if she married the person who gave it to her; if the engagement does not result in marriage she is obligated to give the ring back to her ex-fiancee. If he does not want it, though, she's free to sell it and keep the cash. Each ring that the site sells is checked by a gemologist and verified for authenticity. Of course, it would be a good idea to have your jewelry appraised independently before putting it up for sale.

So how is this green?

Men (or women!) ready to propose who buy off a website get a great bargain -- rings often go for half their value. This way, they avoid buying a brand new ring, which consumes additional resources. They also can avoid buying diamonds that fuel conflicts overseas. Many of the rings on the sites are one-of-a-kind -- some designed by the former fiancees themselves -- and can be more beautiful and original than anything you'd find in a Zales. If you're superstitious about the idea of giving your loved one a ring that came from a failed marriage, but still looking to be ecofriendly, try Brilliant Earth for fair trade, conflict-free diamonds.

[For another way to make cash off of stuff lying around your house, check out this guide to recycling electronics for cash]

More from Fresh Greens:
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Your 2009 Recession Survival Guide
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