Monday, May 5, 2008

When diamonds become girls' worst friends

Diamonds may be forever. But what's a girl to do when she gets dumped or divorced and those rings, necklaces and love gifts lose their emotional sparkle?

Help is just a click away on new Web sites that provide an outlet for selling jewelry from past relationships, sharing break-up stories and helping broken hearts heal.

"You go through a divorce. What do you do with that ring? Maybe you have a child you can pass it on to. Maybe you don't. It just sits there," said Marie Perry of Los Angeles, who with her stepdaughter Megahn Perry runs such a website.

"We wanted to create a platform in the community where people can get in contact with others with similar needs," Perry told. Three months after its launch with the slogan "You Don't Want It. He Can't Have It Back," the Web site has 3,000 registered users and more than 600 postings of rings, bracelets and earrings for sale -- all with a personal tale attached.

"Studs from a Dud," rites one woman, selling a pair of cubic zirconia earrings given to her three years ago. Six months later, she says, the boyfriend dumped her over the phone -- while she was recovering from brain surgery.

"Oops," writes another, selling a white gold wedding band. "Hey, Mom and Dad, remember that time I got married really young? Sorry about that. I can't pay you back for the wedding, but I'll split whatever I get for these with you. Deal?"

"We wanted to keep the tone fun and tongue in cheek. There are some bitter women but most stories are really light-hearted although a few are about people who have been in an abusive situation. But now they are ready to move on," said Perry.

The idea was born when Megahn Perry, a Los Angeles actress and writer, was looking for a safe, reliable place to sell a wedding set after an amicable divorce and realised others might have boyfriend jewelry languishing in drawers or with attendant memories that make them too painful to wear.

The local pawn shop proved an unattractive option. So she teamed up with her stepmother Marie, researched the market and found a gap in it. New Orleans students, Allison Wasserman and Elizabeth Rothbeind, set up a similar venture in April after a teary afternoon sorting out photographs, jewelry and other mementos of an ex-boyfriend.

With the motto "Don't Get Mad - Break Even," it offers independent appraisals of jewelry, matches buyers with sellers, and provides a social network.

Although aimed at women, the Web sites welcome men. "Some men thought it was going to be another male-bashing site but that's not what we're trying to do," said Perry. But she admits the "He Can't Have It Back" slogan has rankled some who believe jewelry should be returned to the giver.

"Etiquette says that if the engagement is broken off, you should absolutely give the ring back. But sometimes the man says no, and sometimes it depends on circumstances," she said.

As one woman posting a diamond ring for $3,500 wrote: "Beautiful ring came with the wrong man. Decided to sell to regain the money that I spent finishing payments on the ring that my ex didn't."