DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from a man in Chicago who had broken his engagement. He asked how to dispose of the rings because it was "no longer possible to return them to the jeweler, and a pawnshop would never give (him) their full value." You advised him to get a written appraisal and donate the rings to charity.
I have been a jeweler for 20 years, and I disagree. If that young man needs the money instead of a tax write-off, there are jewelers who will take items on consignment.
Another idea is to run an ad in the classified section of the local newspaper. Before he places the ad, the man should contact a local jeweler, make an appointment to have a written appraisal done, and ask the jeweler if -- for a commission -- he can meet the prospective buyer in the store. This adds credibility to the ring that is being sold, and it is the only safe way to resell jewelry to the public.
Jewelers spend thousands of dollars to get people inside their doors; this would be two more prospective customers for the jeweler. That is why most independent jewelers wouldn't mind accommodating the young man.
If all else fails, and he's stuck with the rings, I have two other suggestions:
1. Get a safe-deposit box and keep them there. They will not lose value.
2. Melt down the bands and engagement ring and have a wonderful Mother's Day gift created. She would appreciate it more than anyone. -- JEWELER IN THE SOUTH, DAPHNE, ALA.
DEAR SOUTHERN JEWELER: Thank you for your input. I learn from my readers every day. By the way, you aren't the only jeweler who offered suggestions. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Your advice about donating the rings to charity isn't the only choice that young man has.
My husband is a custom jeweler. Women come into his store all the time wanting "divorce rings." They bring their old wedding rings, have them melted down and have a different one created. That young man could do the same thing for himself or for someone else important in his life. -- JEWELER'S WIFE, CARRIZOZO, N.M.
DEAR WIFE: Hmmm ... a divorce ring? If the person doesn't mind being reminded of an unhappy chapter in life, I suppose that would work.
DEAR ABBY: Set the record straight and send that young man back to the jeweler! I have been buying estate jewelry for more than 25 years. In my experience, there are four ways to liquidate a diamond ring: (1) sell to a jeweler; (2) consign to a jewelry store; (3) sell through auction; (4) donate to a charity.
Consignment is usually the best choice because you can determine a fair price in advance and the jeweler doesn't have to front the money to buy it. Donating is harder because most charities are geared toward receiving money rather than merchandise.
Above all, remember the two "don'ts": Don't sell to someone you know -- and don't run an ad, because it could be dangerous. -- HANK FRIEDMAN, MARIN COUNTY, CALIF.
DEAR HANK: Thank you for the helpful suggestions -- and thank you, too, for the warning.