This guide is about purchasing high school or college class rings. Unfortunately, with the price of gold skyrocketing, this can be a competitive collection area. After studying trends in ebay with regard to class rings, here are some buying/pricing tips:
1. Real gold rings will generally fetch a higher price than non-precious metals (duh).
2. If the listing doesn't state the metal, ask the seller if the ring is stamped 10K or 14K (18K is very rare in this category).
3. If the ring is stamped inside with any of the following, they are not real gold (but still "valuable" to a collector!): Ultrium (this is a Herff Jones trademark, so they are often stamped: "HJ ULT"); Siladium, Valadium. Jostens will often be stamped Jostens LTM, for "lustrium". All of these are trademark names for stainless-steel based alloys. These are not precious metals, but there are advantages: they don't tarnish, and look very much like 10K white gold. These also contain nickel, which some people have allergic reactions to.
4. In general, the non-precious alloy high school rings will sell at auction for under $30, UNLESS there is some other highly collectible aspect to the ring. For example, I once saw a ring listed that was not gold, but had the image of Yosemite Sam under the gemstone; this sold for over $100.
5. Sterling silver may achieve a slightly higher price than the steel alloys.
6. "Polara Plus" or "Qazar Plus" rings from Balfour contain palladium, silver and nickel; Palladium is a precious metal in the Platinum family, though they seldom get a higher price than the silver.
7. Real gold (10K or 14K) are the most collectible (and some people are unfortunately buying them just to melt down...:-( Depending on the weight, the school, etc. they can sell anywhere from $50-200. I recommend a starting price of under $20, because those with a higher starting bid are often ignored. People like to bid, so if the starting bid is the typical sale price (ex: $79), there's nowhere to go with that. A quality piece will not disappoint the seller.
8. Most gemstones are "real" but lab grown; they won't add tremendously to the overall value, but chipped stones can detract from the value.
9. When listing class rings, please describe the symbolism on the sides (mascots, sports, crests, etc.); this information is very important to the collector!
10. Please share your class ring story at: www.classringstories.com