Cost Expectations for Remodelling Jewellery in the UK

What does the cost of remodelling an inherited piece of jewellery have in common with a building project?  You're about to find out..

I had a web enquiry which lead to conversation last week on a ring remodelling project where I ruled myself out of the running because my workshop charges more*. We recommended the enquirer went with the lower quote. I hate not being able to help people, but realistically the design being requested wasn't a good one, and to make it good utilising a highly skilled goldsmith was always going to be higher than the production costs from a jobbing factory.

The cost of creating bespoke jewellery, or remodelling existing pieces is very similar to how building projects are approached, which I thought might be helpful for anyone considering a project. Interiors are important to many people. We want nice spaces to feel at home in, to be proud of, to enjoy. Jewellery is the same, we want beautiful pieces to feel comfortable wearing, to be proud of, to enjoy. And in both instances we have a set of expectations where cost is always jostling against quality.

Look at a kitchen analogy. We are fed aspirational images of perfect living spaces. We visit designer sites and showrooms and suddenly find kitchens that cost more than our actual homes! So for many we then rewind, and spend ages searching around for something that looks similar, but is cheaper. All driven by compromises where quality can be the first to be sacrificed. We find a company who say they can do what we want, for less and we want to believe this is true.

The kitchen goes in and at first it does look very true. However a couple of doors get knocked and they aren't sitting nicely and actually one of the appliances is really noisy and after a while we realise that if we were lucky - we got what we paid for. And quite often we are still paying for little things at that point.

It's the same with jewellery. It's the magic combination of having the right goldsmiths, gemstone suppliers, diamond mounters, CAD specialists, casters (the list goes on) and the right knowledge to marry all these things up. My role is the ringmaster - ensuring that no corners are cut and that finished product meets expectations. Even using the best people in the UK doesn't mean they aren't going to miss a detail. This is all part of the service - and of course it's what my clients are paying for.

With all that said, people aren't paying big brand overheads for my service - they are paying for expertise and quality. Going back to the enquiry I had - it was for a jewellery design we advised against for its durability (you can tell if we don't think something will last as we won't offer our normal guarantee for it) and I knew the quoted cost was not a high end goldsmith. And to be fair - my goldsmiths weren't particularly interested because it wasn't a good jewellery design. It looked really cool in it's product shots, but it was going to age very quickly.

Believe it or not - the centre and left hand image here are of an engagement ring which had been 'restored' a fraction of the price we charged client for the ring on the right (being a true restoration). When it arrived with us, the ring had been worn for a year and was in very poor condition. One of the original diamonds had fallen out, and the centre stone setting was something I could have done (i.e. awful!!)

So, when you are considering costs - they will vary depending on where you go, same as for your building project. To give an idea of remodelling costs we have a list of starting prices here. There are people who will be less expensive, and conversely I've had a lot of feedback that people have charged a lot more. What you do want to consider is the cost of correction. I've had clients revisit my service after spending less elsewhere on their jewellery elsewhere. It's a bit depressing that by the time they have paid to put something right, they could have bought a better piece (in materials, workmanship and quality) from me in the first instance.

(Which is what I learned about my super high quality four layer lacquer Italian kitchen doors! Which required replacing by year 4.. Oh, and the customer service stopped after the delivery.)

Jewellery is like any high value project, you will get what you pay for. The more complex the project, the more you may have to be prepared that costs are going to increase with your preferred design. Unlike a kitchen though, quite often it is a precious family legacy or heirloom you are looking to change. If you are looking at creating a new heirloom from an old one - it needs to go the distance.

Why might we turn your business down or suggest a different route?

  • Your design is not going to work as a 3D model.
  • The remodelled piece will not be worth the investment made in the project.
  • Jewellery piece value will be diminished by remodelling (i.e. some antique jewellery is valuable because of the piece design/era or because it's an internationally known brand).
  • We can't meet your cost expectations. If you know that you can have it made for less elsewhere - you are better off going elsewhere.

I've written an article on reasons to remodel you can read here. While it focuses on the engagement ring - it does apply to other items as well.


At Heirloom I am comfortable that you will get more than what you've paid for - but my team's skills are in high demand and we will turn work away. I've worked with 'cheaper' goldsmiths and as a business owner it's a false economy for me, and an inconvenience for the client. So we do the work once, and we will see clients again for servicing - but that is regular wear and tear rather than poor workmanship.

* As a post script - even though it was a higher outlay for our client than her other quote, we did create the ring for her. She decided quality and durability was more important.

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