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Re-Setting An Old Engagement Ring

by Mel K

My boyfriend gave me an engagement ring, which belonged to his grandmother. I would like to re-set it, into something more modern... Please advise.

Advice from the Engagement Experts Team
First we have to start off by saying that we LOVE old or
vintage engagement rings ! They have so much history and character and are beautiful due to their unique qualities. Some have a timeless design, others have a charming quirkiness about them, while others just don't work that well for today's aesthetics. Given that you are looking to reset the ring, we'll assume that yours falls into this last category. (We wish you had included a picture of the ring!)

The first tip we want to offer is that you need to make sure that you appreciate the history and provenance of the ring. Think about your boyfriend's grandfather courting his grandmother and all the thought and anticipation that went into choosing that ring and proposing marriage. It was the first step in creating the family your boyfriend has today. No other ring on the planet will have that same history or sentiment, so always remember that.

Now on to the question at hand...

There are 3 main components to every traditional engagement ring. They are: the diamond (or other gemstone), the metal, and the setting.

Old or vintage engagement rings are from another time when technology wasn't what it is today. As a result, many of the diamonds set in older rings were not measured by the same yard stick that they are today, and they shouldn't be.

When an older ring is taken to be reset and the diamond is evaluated, many couples feel a little disappointed when they learn that the quality of the diamond is on the lower end of today's grading scale. The reason that this is so common is because at the time, they didn't have the tools to spot internal flaws and inclusions and in different parts of the world diamonds with a hint of color were viewed more favorably than colorless ones. Please keep this in mind. You need to appreciate the diamonds and stones in an old engagement ring for what they are and not for what they aren't.

If the diamond in the ring is slightly tinted, then we have two recommendations. Go with yellow gold or rose gold for the new setting to make the diamond appear more white if the metal and the diamond are touching. Also, don't use white diamond accents for the same reason. If you want to augment the setting with other stones, use rubies, sapphires, emeralds—stones with color so that the diamond appears whiter.

Gold was the metal of choice for old rings (although some were platinum too). Either way, have your jeweler melt down the metal and use it in your new setting—like reusing his grandmother's diamond, using the metal she wore will also make the ring more special and is good for the environment. If the color of the metal on the old ring is not what you had in mind, don't worry. They can use alloys to modify the color for you which they may need to do anyway since older engagement rings often used purer gold which is too soft for the wear and tear we put on our rings today.

Finally, the setting. This is really a question of personal taste so do a little research to see what's out there and what appeals to you.

You can go ultra modern, traditional, classic etc. the only thing we advise is that you keep in mind that this will be the one piece of jewelry that you will wear and see everyday for the next umpteen years. So don't go too trendy with the design because you may like it today but in a few years time you may be looking at resetting the ring again.

PS. We'd love to see a picture of the before & after so if you have a chance please send one to us so that we can share it with others who are looking to reset their engagement rings.

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I Love Mine!
by: Annie

My fiance proposed with an heirloom ring from his family (heirloom as in old not precious ;-) anyway the diamond which is a good size had a small chip in it and the jeweler suggested a bezel setting that would hide the chip when I was having it redone. Its awesome and I love my ring!

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