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The End is Just a Beginning: Jewelry and Divorce

Jewelry is so very personal and distinct in its value to us as both a beautiful object and a symbol of an intimate moment, whether our husbands or wives gifted it for a special occasion or it’s something we bought ourselves “just because.”  Many of my clients who are getting divorced ask me what they should do with their jewelry. Do they even want it? Will they wear it? Will they give it to their children someday? Is it fair for jewelry to be included as an asset in a divorce settlement?  Here are a few things to think about.

Know what you own.

Most of the time in a divorce settlement, the giftee can keep her jewelry but, if there are high value pieces (think 10-carat diamonds and the like,) they may be itemized on the asset sheet. The financial outcome depends on the type and quality of the jewels and their current value. In the case where jewelry affects the balance sheet, an independent appraiser can create a valuation that can be used by both sides. As an appraiser, I can help you figure this out. 

In any case, it’s important to know the current value of what you have for insurance purposes. Every so often, an independent appraiser should do a re-valuation for you. Many times, people are overinsured. That’s a subject for another time. 

Does it have “bad marriage cooties?” 

Some version of this thought is expressed as a question or a declarative sentence and I get it. I melted down some of the pieces I received from my former husband for that reason, until I realized that with a little steam cleaning, I could metaphorically burn off the cooties and continue to enjoy wearing things or at least tuck them away for my children. 

 I totally get the cootie thing. But I’ve evolved. As a jewelry designer and gemologist, I know that it’s not the stone’s fault. 

My solution for clients (and for myself many years ago) was to reset the stones and update my look. In that process, we clean and steam the stones (when they can tolerate it) and just the act of someone who understands your feelings working on the gems on your behalf can give you a sense of peace and continuity. Then you can tell your children that this stone was something their father gave you and you wanted to keep it for them but honor your new life. 

If melting or selling is the purge for you, I can help with that, too. No judgments here, just suggestions born of personal and client experience.

black and white close up image of woman handing man her wedding ring

But we paid X for that diamond!

If you decide to sell your engagement diamond because no amount of steaming will help, just be aware that, unless you bought the diamond 30 years ago, you will not receive what you paid for it at the time of purchase. The resale market for diamonds is very tight and tough. To dealers, a diamond is a commodity with a very low profit margin.  Many clients who choose to sell just want to be rid of their stone, but I will take it into the marketplace and do my best to get you a fair price.

The other option clients sometimes choose is to get a matching diamond to make the studs they always wanted or create a pendant they can wear. Remember, we can add some gorgeous sapphires or garnets or tourmaline to that diamond and make it one of a kind. Same with the studs. 

Sometimes, the end is a beginning and jewelry is one way to mark a new path. 

Diana Widman has her own jewelry design and appraisal firm called Diana Widman Design.

You can find her at, on Facebook and Instagram (@dianawidmanfinejewelry), or call her at 312-346-2363.