Our top tips on re-designing and remodelling rings

If repeated wear is still not making you any fonder of an inherited ring or perhaps your engagement ring, there are various degrees of remodelling and re-designing a 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 and design choice for everyone.

You might enjoy reading more about the popularity of customised jewellery and engagement ring traditions.

Here are our most given pieces of advice for anybody who is considering the remodelling route, and wondering what to do first.

In an ideal world all the jewellery we receive or inherit would be loved and worn with passion. What happens when we don’t feel that way about something special?

Remounting diamonds, remodelling rings and redesigning jewellery can breathe new life into special pieces. As jewellery remodelling specialists we know a thing or two about what to consider before you decide to remodel rings. Read on for some of the advice we share with our clients.

Please also take note of our 6 points on remodelling or re-designing your engagement ring.

1.  Don’t rush in: Live with your existing piece for a while before you make any changes.

Simple things to consider before changing your ring:

  • Does it flatter your hand?
  • Does it work with your individual style?
  • Is it wearable?

Fine jewellery is stylish, not fashionable.  A ring which initially seems dated may be a classic.  Spend a bit of time wearing your piece in its current guise.  Time to consider things means if it does need a “face-lift” for you to enjoy wearing it, you’ve thought it through properly and won’t regret that decision at a later stage.

2.  Do your research – and keep it realistic!

We aren’t all a Grace Kelly or Beyonce – if you have a 0.50ct centre stone then seeking inspiration from 1.5ct rings is ultimately going to leave you disappointed.  Likewise, if you want a 1cm wide band, and your fingers are short and broad, your hand may look a little like a caricature.  Ensure that your ideas come from what you’ve got to work with.

3.  Find somebody you can trust

There is no shortage of people out there who will do a beautiful job of remounting your stones.  Whether you go with a designer for a specific look or to a high street retailer, most businesses offer ring redesign services.  For complete peace of mind, make sure you see some examples of their work – physically.  Referrals are often really good in this area, ask your friends if anyone has had a good experience.  Look for testimonials.  And if they promise the earth and discount heavily in front of you – look elsewhere.  Cheapest is not always best here.  A good jeweller will behave a bit more like a good hairdresser – listening carefully, yet warning you if your desired look is not going to suit your hand or blow your budget sky high or be wearable on a daily basis etc.

4.  Agree on the design before you start

However good your jeweller or designer is, they aren’t mind-readers.  If you have not made yourself clear then they are working to a blank slate, which is not as much fun as it sounds.  Make sure you have agreed how your piece is going to look, and what it is going to be made from.  Insist on a 3D design or professional hand drawings.  Have it documented, to ensure that expectations are agreed for both parties.

5.  Ensure you are clear on the cost of your masterpiece

Having your own stones will save you a lot of money on the cost of redesigning your ring.  But it still has to be designed and made, and craftsman want to be paid for this (I know – unbelievable).

A new mount designed from scratch and crafted and finished may still set you back a few thousand Rands if you’ve decided that you want diamonds everywhere.  Designs already in existence which can be tailored to your materials will cost less. The upside is the trade-in metal which will often coven a good part of the new ring costs.

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Changing your engagement ring: 6 tips to keep in mind

  1. Talk to him before changing your engagement ring

This should be a bit of a no-brainer, but we are so female 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.  We have often had clients who have bought their partners with them to our consultations, 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.

  1. Consider the piece value when making your plans

If your engagement or inherited 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.

  1. 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. Halo’s are often popular with women who would prefer their engagement ring to glitter on their finger. In some cases, the ring chosen could even have a double row of diamonds, which in rose gold creates a vintage effect.

  1. 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.

Speaking to your jeweller and designer beforehand about what you want will give you an idea of costs and if it would fit your budget.

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.  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.

  1. 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. ‍