A Comprehensive Guide to Repurposing Your Jewelry
Most of us have them, buried deep in a jewelry box or in the back of a drawer: Old, unused pieces of jewelry that are just not you. Maybe they have sentimental value or are family heirlooms. Maybe they commemorate special events or are symbols of past relationships. You never wear them, but you can’t part with them.
Why not breathe new life into them? Transform the old into new, compelling pieces of jewelry that you’ll be thrilled to wear or to gift to loved ones. And it’s easier than you may think.
The earrings you received from your parents for graduation, the wedding ring your spouse slipped on your finger, the pendant your beloved aunt gifted you ... these are not just pieces of jewelry. It’s not an exaggeration to say that pieces of jewelry can become pieces of your heart - and this is true whether or not you personally like the design.
The question is, then, if you’re never going to wear these pieces, should you part with them? Sell them?
Our advice: No. Sentimental jewelry comes with more than its share of emotion. Once it’s gone, you cannot get it back. You cannot replace it. You will always have your memories of the person who gave it to you or the story behind it - but that physical reminder, that tangible bit of history, is gone.
However, when you redesign or restyle a treasured piece, you honor the yesterday it represents while ensuring it meets your needs today.
Imagine this: Your dear grandmother gifted you her favorite brooch. The diamonds and rubies are stunning - but that setting. It certainly suited your grandmother… sixty years ago. Today, you’re not even sure where you’d wear such a brooch, or with what!
You could switch out your setting or keep the setting and add more pop with melee diamonds in a halo effect. You could repurpose the stones and create beautiful earrings, a showstopping pendant, or a smaller ring and earring set.
Pulling and repurposing precious stones from your pieces is an easy feat for experienced jewelers. By reusing the stones to create a custom piece, you and your jeweler can craft a stone-cold stunner that’s uniquely you.
If a piece truly holds significant sentimental value, rest assured that there are ways to reuse and repurpose all of its components. The possibilities are limited only by your, and your designer's, imaginations.
Precious stones seem easy to pluck and repurpose. But what about the metal in the setting? You may sell this to a dealer who trades in precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum. (Bonus: This can help you add room to your custom jewelry design budget.)
You can also consider having the metal itself melted down by your jeweler or a refiner and recast into a new setting for your piece. There are a few caveats here, however. If it is gold, for example, you will have to add more metal to the mix to avoid pitting in the final piece.
Platinum is difficult to melt down (because it needs to be done on a larger scale by a refiner) - but you can reuse it. For example, if you have an heirloom platinum wedding band, your jeweler could open it, do some milling work, and create a collet (holds a gemstone securely in place) and bail (used to attach a stone to a pendant) for a gorgeous pendant.
What do you do with engagement rings and wedding bands from relationships that have ended? Often, we’re hesitant to part with them, but we don’t choose to wear them. Again, you can use them to create a piece that is meaningful to you now.
For example, if you have a diamond solitaire, you could purchase a second stone and have a pair of studs made. Another option, add your birthstone (one on each side of the center stone) and/or that of your children. Add gorgeous statement stones, change the setting, and enjoy a right-hand ring - a symbol of independence.
Some people also inherit engagement rings and wedding rings from their parents and/or grandparents. They may want to use the rings themselves, but add a more modern or personal touch to the design.
For example, you may wish to wear your late mother’s or father’s yellow gold wedding band as your own. To update the look but keep a special element, like a beautiful engraving, in tact, you could ask your jeweler to design a platinum sleeve to protect the old band. The sleeve could feature a cutout in the inside to allow the engraving to show.
These rings have significant emotional “baggage” - whether good or not-so-good. You can restyle these pieces to celebrate the positive or to overcome the negative.
The custom jewelry process can seem intimidating. In fact, it really comes down to one key factor - your relationship with your jewelry designer. When you find the right designer and are able to put your trust in him/her, the custom jewelry process becomes exponentially easier, more streamlined, and ultimately far more successful.
That’s the logical first step then: Find the right designer. Ask for recommendations, scour the internet for reviews, and request to see work from different professionals. Check credentials, guarantees, warranties, and certification processes.
Next, schedule a time to simply talk with a designer. Does he/she listen to your ideas? Understand your concerns? Offer suggestions and solutions?
1. Carefully Consider What You Want
You may not have a fully fleshed-out idea of how to refresh or restyle your jewelry. That’s ok. Your designer can help you and suggest different options based on the stones, settings, etc.
But do think about what elements of the original piece you wish to retain (and, conversely, which can go!). Remember the aforementioned example about repurposing an engraved wedding band – the one where you could ask your jeweler to keep the engraving and protect the old gold. Whether you’re in love with the stone or the setting, an engraving, or a theme, make sure to communicate this clearly to your designer.
It is essential that your designer provides you with renderings. If the mock up doesn't look quite right, don't worry. You're working with paper or wax at this point. Your designer should be able to easily make corrections or revisions.
2. Open Yourself to New Ideas
This is rather optional, but if you remain open to suggestions, you can create a truly unique piece. For example, one jewelry designer worked with a client who had a pair of earrings featuring rubies surrounded by mother-of-pearl. Unfortunately, the mother-of-pearl was damaged, rendering the earrings unwearable.
The designer removed and replaced the mother-of-pearl with pigmented concrete and particles of sand from the beach where the client played as a child. This may not be to your taste, but at least explore all the possibilities available to you.
The custom jewelry process empowers you to create a one-of-a-kind piece that you will be proud to gift, to wear, or to pass on for generations to come.
3. Collaborate with Your Designer
Don’t abdicate this important task, no matter how great and trustworthy your designer. Lean on his/her expertise, but feel comfortable sharing your own ideas and feedback.
Here are a few questions to ask before and during the custom jewelry design process:
- What are your credentials? Where did you train, and what certifications do you possess?
- Do you work with subcontractors (e.g., a refiner to melt metal or a diamond supplier to source additional stones)? If so, how do you vet them?
- What type of insurance do you have? (While you don’t want to think about it, what will happen if the jeweler damages your piece? You need to know it is covered, at least monetarily speaking.)
- How will redesigning or refreshing my piece impact its monetary value? (Even though it is a sentimental piece, it pays to be a bit practical too!)
- How many pieces have you restyled, refreshed or updated? (It should be your designer’s specialty, as the process is quite different from creating pieces from scratch.)
- What are your ideas? How would you envision this piece completely transformed? (Assert your own ideas, but gauge your designer’s expertise and creativity by inviting him/her to share his/her vision.)
Have an old piece with which you cannot bear to part? Let the custom jewelry design experts at K. Rosengart turn it into a fresh, exciting piece that you cannot bear to take off!