Have a family diamond you are thinking of using to propose? If the setting is worn, outdated, or not to your girlfriend’s taste, why not reset your family diamond into a modern new engagement ring that’s exactly what she wants?
At RockHer we create custom engagement rings that reuse family diamonds every day. We’ve learned a lot about guiding customers through the process. Here are six steps to successfully creating a new engagement ring with an old diamond.
1. Make Sure Your Family Approves Your Plan
First things first. Gems are deeply sentimental and personal symbols of beautiful life moments and family history. Make sure that family members who are offering a family ring for your proposal are OK with any changes that you plan to make. No one wants to give Grandma a heart attack when she sees what you’ve done with her ring.
That being said it’s common for each generation to reuse heirlooms and create new jewelry: even the royal family does it! Antique and vintage settings aren’t forever, even if the diamonds in them are.
If your fiancée is active, works with her hands or with children, getting a safer setting will protect the diamond. Redesigning the ring also lets you add personal touches that reflect your love story. Being able to honor your heritage with a family diamond while creating an engagement ring that works today is usually the best solution.
2. Assess the Condition & Quality of the Diamond
Not every old diamond is worth investing in: small stones may not be worth designing a new ring around unless they have important sentimental value. If your family ring is heavily worn, the diamond might have scratches or chips that dull its sparkle. Small scratches and chips can be removed by repolishing, which won’t lose you too much weight. But a larger chip might result in a much smaller stone. If your diamond has serious damage, it’s probably better to leave it in place rather than risk damaging it during the rigors of unsetting and setting again. And it might not be worth investing in recutting if the result is much smaller.
To protect you and your diamond, make sure you get your diamond graded at a reputable gemological laboratory first. That will tell you the quality of the diamond and also flag any condition problems like chips or inclusions that might be vulnerable during the setting process. At RockHer, we don’t work on ungraded diamonds.
3. Create a Timeless & Personal Design
The sky’s the limit when it comes to a custom engagement ring design. We can design and craft anything you can dream up. But most of our customers eventually settle on something timeless. Make sure to add personal details to make it your own.
You can also set your diamond in an existing design like a halo engagement ring. At RockHer we make every ring to order so we can craft any of our rings to fit an existing diamond.
One drawback to designing a ring with a family diamond is that you can’t choose the diamond’s size and shape. If your family diamond is round but you prefer a fancy shape like a cushion or square we can give your ring the look you like by creating a fancy-shape halo of smaller diamonds that will make it look like the shape you want. (This is also a great way to make a smaller center diamond look more substantial.)
If the family diamond isn’t as white as you want, try setting it in rose gold or yellow gold: even small details in warmer metal like prongs or a bezel will help to trick the eye and make the stone look whiter.
If your family diamond is an old-style cut like an old European cut or old mine cut be cautious about setting it with modern round brilliant side stones unless they are very small. When you compare an older cut vintage diamond to a diamond with a modern cut, it is easy to see the difference.
Matching an older cut diamond is often very difficult. If you are creating a three-stone engagement ring with an older cut diamond in the center, try pear shapes or cushions on the side instead of rounds. Don’t recut an older style diamond if it’s in good shape: older cuts are currently very fashionable and it will have more value as is than as a smaller modern-style diamond cut.
4. Don't Forget Craftsmanship
One of the things that make many heirloom engagements rings uniquely valuable is the skill and care put into crafting them by hand. Whatever the style of your new ring, make sure it is made to last. What does it mean for a ring to be well-crafted? First, it should be made for you from scratch and be proportioned to fit your diamond and your finger perfectly, not chopped down from a stock setting. The small details matter: your ring should look good from every angle, be finished as carefully on the back and inside as the front. Every stone should be securely set. And of course, all of the gems that will complement your family diamond should be responsibly sourced.
5. Options for the Old Setting
Once you take the diamond out of its old setting, you have a decision to make. Should you reuse the old setting for something else or trade it in and apply the value of the metal to a new setting? In some cases, metal from the old band can be used to create a new one.
Generally, very worn settings will probably only be worth melting down as scrap. But if your old setting has sentimental value or an interesting design consider setting a colored gemstone in the place of the diamond you are removing. If a family member is giving you the ring and might enjoy having it back, this is a lovely gesture to reciprocate for the gift of the ring. There is a rainbow of colorful options, many quite affordable.
6. Create Your Own Heirloom Instead
No family diamonds available? If you don’t have access to an heirloom ring, you can create one of your own. If there’s a ring in your family that means a lot to you but its current owner is still wearing it (or another family member has first dibs) you can use it as an inspiration for your own custom engagement ring.
Many vintage-style engagement rings are making a comeback, from unique engagement ring settings to timeless classic engagement rings. If your significant other has her heart set on a unique engagement ring, a custom engagement ring with old-world inspiration can become an instant heirloom.
You can create a style that’s just like the ring that inspires you or references a detail that has meaning for you. Your new creation will be an heirloom for future generations to come.