Re use is, of course, by far the most ecological approach in most situations, including the purchase of wedding and engagement rings, since it requires no mining nor any energy of any kind to melt down metals, cut stones, transport materials, etc., so choosing to re use is a particularly earth-friendly choice. How green of you!
If your wedding style is more traditional, consider an heirloom or antique ring as a green alternative to mass-produced wedding bands. You may well have a relative or close family friend who has been hoping to be able to pass down a cherished piece, so make sure to ask around. If you feel uncomfortable, recruit a trusted relative or friend to spread the word that you’re interested in an heirloom piece for your wedding bands or engagement ring.
However, if you don’t happen to have a family wedding or engagement ring available that suits you, local antique shops, pawn shops, flea markets, and online auction sites such as eBay are abounding with gorgeous wedding and engagement rings in a variety of styles from quirky and classic looking for a new home on the finger of your new spouse!
Online auctions or antique brokers can be found all over the internet. If you’re new to eBay, don’t be afraid! Buying online does not have to be a scary process. Just remember to check out your seller’s feedback and number of sales before you bid to ensure a smooth transaction, make sure to double-check everything about the piece, ask your seller questions before you bid, and pay with PayPal for extra protection.
If online auctions are not your thing, don’t sweat it, because we Northeast Ohio Brides are lucky — there’s a booming local antique and estate jewelry community with tons of retailers to choose from. Here are a few suggestions, but be sure to ask your family and friends if they’ve noticed anything special, as well. The ring of your dreams may be waiting just around the corner!
Here’s some info about a few local destinations near Akron, but there are many, many more in Cleveland, so be sure to check around to see if there might be some cool locations closer to your home!
If you’re looking for a wide selection, check out the Medina Antique Mall located at 2797 Medina Road in Medina. This is not your usual flea market experience. The Medina Antique Mall is indoors, well-lit and climate-controlled (that means heat and AC, people!), over 50,000 sq ft, and houses over 500 different antique dealers. In addition to jewelry, you’ll find just about everything else you can imagine from fossils to furniture, including vintage china, glassware, silver, and crystal. For more information about the Medina Antique Mall, visit their website (above) or call (330) 722-0017.
Another great Akron-Area resource for estate jewelry of all kinds (since 1946!) is Sam’s Emporium on East Exchange Street near the University of Akron. Sam’s Emporium is a pawn-shop-style store with a wide variety of high-quality estate pieces from a range of time periods. They also do custom designs and sizing right on site, have an entire room just for bridal jewelry, and they are renowned for their customer service. For more information about Sam’s Emporium, visit their website (above) or call (330) 535-1911.
If you’ve driven from Downtown Akron to Fairlawn or vice-versa down West Market Street, you may have noticed Stagecoach Antiques‘ overflowing 449 West Market Street store. There always seems to be something interesting on the sidewalk in front of their doors, and there’s even more cool stuff inside! I got an amazing personal tour last month by the owner, who I found out coincidentally happens to be one of our Mothers of the Bride (hi, Heidi!)! Small world, huh? For additional information about Stagecoach Antiques, visit their website (above) or call (330) 762-5422.
Whether you choose to buy online or offline, many sellers both on the web and locally offer returns and/or certification services, but always consider double-checking your certification. Learn the lingo about gemology and appraisal credentials, and consider paying sixty bucks or so to have the ring re-appraised by a local independent gemologist both for insurance purposes as well as for your own peace of mind.
I have personally worked with and recommend Mitchell Dustin (GIA Independent Certified Gemologist Appraiser, American Gem Society Certified Member, National Association of Jewelry Appraisers) of Northern Appraisal Services out of Columbus who sometimes visits the Northeast Ohio Area for “appraisal day” and select local retailers. For more information about Northern Appraisal Services, you can contact Mitchell at (614) 898-7927. He’s a straight-talker with a great eye for gems and the necessary technology to provide an accurate appraisal.
Stay tuned for the final installment of this series, “Recycle,” featuring a recent Something New Bride and Groom who made their own rings (yes — you read right!) out of recycled gold, diamonds, and some other — shall we say — extra-terrestrial materials that are positively out of this world. (Maria and Peter, I hope you are laughing right now at this teaser).
I’ll give you the scoop how you can do it, too, at a cool Cleveland jewelry studio specializing in guiding novices through this process in a fun two-day workshop, show you some photos of Maria and Peter’s creations, and (as always) praise you for how green you are. 😉