It's the height of personal: Your grandmother (or your future husband's grandmother) gifts you her beloved engagement ring to wear as a symbol of your love and commitment. The diamond is beautiful, but the setting isn't something you would have picked for yourself. Maybe you're not a fan of yellow gold or the fact that it's a chunky band, which has left you wondering if there's a way to redesign the ring so that the final result balances the respect your grandmother's ring deserves with your personal tastes. Here, experts weigh in.
Don't let the gravitas overwhelm you.
Many brides worry that the gift of the ring means personal style has to be sacrificed, but that's not the case, says Shahla Karimi, owner and designer at Shahla Karimi. "A fiancé should remember that the design should be fresh, it should be special, and in the style of the person being proposed to," she said. "I say treat the diamond as you would treat any other diamond. The specialness comes from the knowledge of the stone's history, a remembrance of times past."
Work with the right jeweler.
Designing a ring, or redesigning a set ring into something new, is a different process than simply shopping for the right piece. That's why you need to find a reputable jeweler that you trust, but who can also do the work correctly. "When a fiancé is using an heirloom diamond in an existing ring, he should choose a reputable and honest jeweler to work with," explains the team at Designs by Kamni. "The item in hand has so much sentimental value and cannot be replaced-it needs to be handled with care!"
Because this type of family heirloom is so precious, the process of creation should be handled with care. The right jeweler should understand that and will lead a client in the right direction, explains the team at Designs by Kamni. "Do not compromise on the creating of the ring setting. Do your research and work with a private jeweler that can do custom work and make your vision a reality," they say. "Why settle for a run of the mill, mass produced ring setting. If you have such a valuable and meaningful center stone it should be placed in something made just for it!"
You should have several design meetings with your jeweler, and be as descriptive as possible during these appointments. Our professionals suggest bringing along pictures of styles that you do and do not like, and you should be prepared to discuss every detail, from how many prongs you like to whether you prefer scrollwork or a modern finish.
Consider the metals.
Engagement rings are comprised mainly of three different metals: white gold, yellow gold, and platinum. Depending on the age of your grandmother's ring, chances are you'll be working with something that's yellow gold or even platinum. However, you should plan to start fresh and use new metal, whether or not it's the same time. "It typically costs more to reuse metal," Karimi says. "You have to pay for a separate/single flask as the caster since the metal's origin is unknown. It is most cost effective to sell the gold to a refiner and put that towards the new piece."