November 16, 2012, 12:30 PM

An e-commerce site turns failed relationships into cash

I Do Now I Don’t helps consumers sell their engagement rings and other jewelry.

Lead Photo

Breaking up may be hard to do, but one e-commerce site is easing the blow by helping ex-couples get a little cash from their failed relationships. Web site I Do Now I Don’t has been buying and selling used engagement rings in its marketplace since since 2007. Now the start-up retailer, which has expanded to include other jewelry and wedding dresses, is moving in two new directions: buying and reselling diamonds on behalf of clients and expanding internationally, says founder Josh Opperman.

 “We get tons of international inquiries all the time but we can’t really handle it now,” Opperman says. “We need some kind of office or presence abroad.”

Coordinating international deals adds complications with foreign customs, duties and taxes, Opperman says. And there’s also risk in shipping and authenticating such valuable items as $10,000 diamonds that come from overseas. I Do Now I Don’t is located in the heart of New York City’s diamond district, so when items come in it’s easy to hop next door and give them to an independent authentication company to check against their descriptions, he says. The retailer, which holds sellers’ items in escrow until they are verified, processes about 150 jewels a month. Getting a ring appraised, sold and delivered to its buyer takes a week on average, he says.

Another, perhaps simpler, growth avenue for the company is I Do Now I Don’t’s instant offer program, which has been growing since it began about a year ago and now represents roughly 25% of transactions. For customers who don’t want to make listings and wait for a sale, which could take a few months or a year, I Do Now I Don’t offers to buy items and sell them to jewelry wholesalers and retailers, only holding the inventory long enough to authenticate it, Opperman says.

I Do Now I Don’t brought in around $25,000 in sales its first year, Opperman says, and this year he expects sales to reach close to $3 million. The company takes a 15% cut of the sale price, he says, which ranges from $100 to about $100,000—once a customer listed a $5 million ring, but it never sold. Of the 2,000 items listed on the site, about 90% are engagement rings or wedding bands, he says. Most buyers get about 50% off what they’d pay for the same rings elsewhere, he says.

Although Opperman was inspired to start the site when his own fiancée left him and he couldn’t sell back the engagement ring he bought for a good price, not all customers list their items for tragic reasons, he says. Sometimes they want to upgrade, or they inherited something they don’t like or they are remarrying, he says.

In five years, only about three shipments have been lost or damaged beyond fixing, he says, though each time the jewelry was insured via FedEx for the full price. About two items a month come in different than described, he says. Sometimes, the seller didn’t know the listing was incorrect. When this happens,  I Do Now I Don’t contacts the buyer and asks if she still wants the item, if she’d like to re-negotiate the price with the seller first or if she’d prefer a full refund. 

Occasionally, Opperman says he’s had to have an awkward call with a divorcee to let her know that her ex-husband did not, in fact, buy her a genuine 5-carat diamond ring as he’d claimed. At least that might make her feel a bit better about her decision to move on.

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