You can love him to pieces and yet not be comfortable with the ring he chose. We regularly help clients interested in remodelling their engagement ring, who feel (unsurprisingly) quite apprehensive about the whole thing.
If repeated wear is still not making you any fonder of your ring, there are various degrees of remodelling an engagement ring you can consider. It could be a simple tweak to the design, or a look that is completely different and only keeps the stones. There is a look for everyone.
Here are our most given pieces of advice for anybody who is eyeing up the remodelling route, and wondering what to do first.
1. Talk to him about it before making any other decisions!
This should be a bit of a no-brainer, but we are so English sometimes aren’t we?! It is very unusual for the giver not to be emotionally invested in the engagement ring in some form. And while it is going to be painful to hear that he didn’t nail it – it is still something which needs to be said. It will at least explain why you seldom wear it!
Your fiance may also have some ideas how to address the issue; for example the jeweller it came from may offer an exchange etc. The sooner you have this conversation, the sooner you can start to look into making whatever you feel the necessary change is. I’ve often had clients who have bought their partners with them to our meetings, as in most cases they are still keen to ensure that the new ring is something they like too. This is never a problem, and in most instances is really helpful for decision making.
2. Consider the piece value when making your plans
The attached image is quite impressive looking, and it should be – it was a 5ct ring remodelling project! It was a straightforward decision, all value was in the stone, the setting had no significance.
If your engagement ring is an antique (say, a classic 1920’s Cartier), then remodelling it will affect the value of the piece. This is because you are dismantling something with a historical and brand value. This doesn’t solve your problem, but it is the equivalent of painting over a work of art because you don’t like it. Your options here are to discuss ways to wear the ring (and indeed how to accessorise it) in a way which reflects your style, or to sell the ring, and use the money to buy the right engagement ring for you. It isn’t to say that you can’t remodel it. But if it has come through your fiance’s family, you may wish to consider other options.
Likewise, if your ring is an amethyst and cubic zirconias, it does not make sense to spend a lot of money remodelling it. Little tweaks would make more sense.
3. Make sure that the design works for your hand shape
A large part of the reason for wanting to change the style of an engagement ring, is when it doesn’t look quite right on the hand. Metal colour, stone shape and design are going to influence how the ring looks when worn. It could be overpowering the finger, or indeed, it could be lost on it.
Choosing an engagement ring really is no different to finding the right pair of jeans, dress or top for the wearer. Get it right, and you will always attract lots of comments and compliments. So if you are going to the trouble of changing it’s appearance, you should be taking a long hard look at your fingers too and thinking about what is going to suit them. Go and try on different settings – even costume jewellery is fine for this, you just want to get an idea of what works for shape, length and width of your finger. In general with remodelling an engagement ring, you only want to go through this process once!
4. Use remodelling to accentuate existing stones (not replace them)
Remodelling an engagement ring is not about making a half carat diamond into a two carat stone. (The technical term for that feat is called “buying another diamond”). It is about taking the elements of a piece of jewellery, and combining them in a design that is going to flatter the hand, and please the wearer. So it is worth considering what you had thought your dream ring would look like? And also considering if this will work on your hand shape.
Sometimes, where remodelling can box clever, is by accentuating the size of a stone, by framing it in metal, or using a halo setting. The ring image here shows the final ring created for a client who wanted to add more sparkle to her stone, to increase its presence on her hand. Halo’s are often popular with women who would prefer their engagement ring to glitter on their finger. And in this case, the ring chosen had a double row of diamonds, which in rose gold created a vintage effect, perfect for the wearer.
5. Decide what you are comfortable spending (it will influence design options)
An engagement ring is a gift that is intended to be worn daily. Try to think of anything that endures daily use on the hand for at least 25 years, even cars will have had their engines restored a few times by then! It is not difficult to make an engagement ring, but it is to make one that will last and retain its looks. And the workmanship in a remodelling project is usually what is going to drive costs, even more than materials.
Average client spend on a remodelling project at Heirloom London is about £1,700 for a bespoke made ring with additional diamonds. A simple project is more likely to come in around £850 and we have done basic ring adjustments costing the client £250. It depends on the level of work required. Speaking to a jeweller about what you want will give you an idea of costs pretty early on.
Sometimes, clients approach their engagement ring remodelling project with additional pieces of jewellery which they are never going to wear, but which have a recycling value. We take the scrap value of any gold, and subtract it from the net invoice which can make a surprising difference.
It can be a bit of a surprise, that remodelling an engagement ring can appear to be not dissimilar to the costs of buying a new ring. That is because it is a complex project. Often clients want to preserve key elements of their existing ring which is completely understandable, but not as straightforward as they may first appear. A key ask is to keep the metal from the existing ring, and use it in the new ring. I wrote a blog about why this is not impossible, but costly and sometimes risky. We try to ensure that cherished elements are retained, but we ask clients to understand that it is intricate work, and sometimes compromises have to be made, especially when on a budget. A good jeweller will explain this clearly, and highlight any pitfalls of preferred design.
6. Understand there are limitations to jewellery remodelling
Any workshop can attach old parts of a ring to a new one, the skill is to do it well – find the right metal colour and ensure it is impossible to see where the old ring ends and where the new one begins. Sometimes we need to work out a compromise for a client, to ensure that the ring is going to last. We want to help everyone to achieve their dream engagement ring, but only if the desired look is going to stand up to everyday wear. We will turn down a job rather than create something that isn't practical, or else have to do it cheaply and ultimately, poorly.