Does remodelling my engagement ring cost as much as buying a new one?

Like-for-like if you already have the diamond, or want to make simple changes remodelling always costs less than buying the equivalent brand new.

For most people, a better understanding of the process gives a better idea where costs are focused.

Depending on what jewellery sites you have been visiting, engagement ring remodelling can suddenly look like an expensive proposition. You have gold, and diamonds in an old ring, and you would assume that this forms most of the cost. You have made a saving already because of the cost of the stone, but what people miss is the labour involved in projects like these, and often the additional materials required too.

The cost of labour in remodelling an engagement ring

There are two approaches to remodel an old engagement ring into a new design.  

Diamonds from two old rings remodelled into one three stone engagement ring
Three stone from two old family rings were combined into this simple three stone setting where my client could still decide on every little detail.

Made to Order/Custom

The first is with a made to order design, a design model already in existence.  All that is required is to rehouse the stone(s) is for the design to be made in the correct size specifications.  This is most cost-efficient as the design exists, and a process is in place to have made up by it’s manufacturer.  A variation on this is to order various ring components to assemble. There will be more workshop time involved here, but it is a more custom finished option.

Made to order rings generally take about 10-12 business days production before they are ready to be stone set and finished (another 4-5days).  You can have this expedited for a faster turnaround, it will be at a higher cost as basically you are paying to queue jump.  

Engagement Ring Remodelling - Before and After
One of my favourite projects of 2020 - a very creative outlet for a client's cherished diamond, drawing inspiration from the Art Deco era.

Bespoke/Hand Made

Second option is often preferred if your centre stone requires a specialist setting, or you want a more unique design. This is the bespoke route, and the time and skill required increases.  Think of it like buying a suit that has been tailored to your shape and requirements.  Especially when it comes to larger stones, or unique touches, these all mostly handmade and designed.  A diamond setting will have been made to work exactly with the shape and size of the stone, like a glove.  And there will be costs for more metal – if your diamond is worth £15,000 - paying £2,500 for a new ring to secure it should be viewed as an insurance policy too.

Like for Like Engagement Rings

For anything in life, you can find a cheap alternative if you are willing to compromise on overall quality. Workmanship will add up the more skilled the goldsmithing, so if you are comparing UK made with with cheap imports using very little metal and factory finishing, it is like comparing any high specification object with it's mass produced alternative. The UK jewellery industry is one of the best in the world. That doesn't stop workshops here selling cheap jewellery with a UK hallmark on it which has been imported into the UK, so just beware who you approach.

Little diamonds can be big jobs

Small diamonds, or melee as they are known in the trade are not themselves particularly expensive. But where costs can add up and add to ring work is when there are a lotto set.  A goldsmith will prep up a ring mount for multiple stones so time and effort. A diamond setter will then mount the stones, more time and effort.  Does it make a difference?  Of course. And setters specialising in melee are often not the setters specialising in larger stones.  So, more touchpoints on the ring journey.  A ring shank can easily have a carat of stones set on it in addition to the centre stone.  That’s a lot of work, and a lot of diamond..

Material Girls

Sometimes, we can use old jewellery to make the new jewellery. But no always, and it may cost more because of the labour involved in melting down and reforming metal. This means that in addition to the workmanship, there is still material charges. So for a gold coloured ring, where you want to change to platinum, we're going to require platinum. Or if you love the gold, but wanted a chunky band, again we are bringing in more metal.

“Heirloom will never be the cheapest jewellery remodelling service in London. We are the best jewellery remodelling service in London. Our clients often return with new projects, but never problems from old ones. Our workmanship is leading edge and we don’t cut corners."

When buying a brand new engagement ring, you are paying for all the materials, and the workmanship in one. This works out well because the price of a diamond generally offsets the cost of some of the labour.

If you want to set your diamond in a new engagement ring setting – it is the time, labour and materials required to create the new design influencing cost.  The diamond or centre stone still saves money and adds value (Cost with diamond could be a few thousand more).  It only feels like more upfront. Ring value will likely still be much more than you paid for remodelling.

A Story about when Engagement Ring Remodelling is not Engagement Ring Remodelling..

Last year one of my enquiries wanted a bigger diamond, ideally in the same setting because she didn’t want her husband to know she was making the change.  She also wanted to know if she could re-cut the existing diamond to make more small diamonds for the ring, or trade it in for a bigger GIA one. And budget was £1,000 as her ring valuation was £3,000 so that would make it worth £4,000 – right?! And, in two weeks please...

She was disappointed to learn this wouldn’t be a low cost exercise.  This was buying a new engagement ring (from us but still..) because that was what she was asking for;

1.      We don’t do diamond trade-ins (we source specifically for each client).

2.     Diamond costs increase disproportionately as carat weight increases. So, like-for-like a bigger stone may be 50% more expensive even if it’s only 20% larger.

3.     You can’t fit a larger diamond into a smaller setting. You have to make a new setting.

4.     Cutting a certified diamond into smaller stones is like making a Ferrari into a Fiesta.

5.     Timescales meant ring would have to be made by hand or expedited.

6.     Ring valuation covers a replacement cost, which is not the same as resale value.

I suggested maybe it was worth waiting a few years, and then discussing an upgrade with her husband..

Final Thoughts

Remodelled two stone crossover toi et moi made into new crossover style toi et moi
An old crossover style ring remodelled utilising all the stones, to create a more modern halo style Toi Et Moi engagement ring.

If you have a diamond that is worth £120, then yes – you may struggle to end up with a product that justifies its value.  But remodelling is still a good option if;

1.      If the stone has a lot of meaning to you, and the ring design is something you are going to love wearing OR

2.     You want a bespoke ring setting and want to include a family diamond in the design, OR

3.     You are going larger anyhow, and want to use your diamond as one of a pair of side stones

If you are investing in something to be worn for the next 10/20/30+years then you are investing in the workmanship and it makes sense to view it as a new piece of jewellery.

We always do amazing work however there is our reality that the quality of our jewellery is at the elite level rather than mass produced. We cover off any issues we find, and give pragmatic advice at the beginning of every process to ensure that every client gets the best value from their purchase.  Can we help everyone? Can anyone?!

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Remodel my engagement ring or jewellery..

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