Marrow Fine Prism Background
Breadcrumb arrow icon

From the Blog…

How to Breathe New Life into an Old Piece of Jewelry

February 16, 2024

Article share icon Share Copied
flat lay image of an heirloom rework cluster ring, featuring diamonds and sapphires

So, you’ve inherited a family heirloom that’s just been gathering dust in your jewelry box? You can breathe some new life into it while still honoring the past. 

Read on as we answer some common heirloom rework questions:

What are some ways a piece of jewelry can be “reworked”?

Re-designing an heirloom can go so many different ways.

When it comes to engagement rings, some reworks are very straightforward - where we simply swap a classic ring from white gold to yellow gold, which tends to be tied to current fashion trends or wearer preference. Our clients also love Toi Et Moi (two-stone) reworks because they can combine something old with something new… or incorporate stones from both families, which feels super special. Depending on the client’s style, we may pay homage to the original piece in a more modern way or they may opt to pivot and create something totally unique and different. In some cases, we’ll even incorporate additional birthstones or tonal colored gems to create a linear or cluster concept.

It's important to remember that reworks aren't just reserved for engagement rings. An heirloom can be reworked into any type of jewelry - a necklace, pair of earrings, bracelet... we've seen (and done) it all! Thanks to CAD and modern casting technology, the design options are almost endless!

Side by side of an heirloom rework: before and after.

What are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to reworking an heirloom ring?

Do: Look for inspiration

When it comes to reworking an heirloom, there are countless directions we can take. Spend some time looking for inspiration, especially of designs with similar size and shape stones (you can browse our Instagram or library of past bespoke pieces to share with us!). Ask yourself: Do you want something simple? More intricate? Are you drawn to a more traditional or modern aesthetic? Do you want to add some colored gemstones to the design? Do you plan to wear this as an engagement ring or statement cocktail piece? All of these design details will help make the process seamless. 

Don’t: Be afraid to speak up about ideas you may have

We want you to be over-the-moon about your design, so more is more when it comes to design details that matter to you. Remember, our team collaborates with you to bring your vision and ideas to life!

Don’t: Skip on insurance

Once your new heirloom piece is completed, we’ll provide you with an appraisal from a trusted 3rd party and guide you through the insurance process. Insurance is so, so key! We recommend insuring anything you’d feel gutted to lose. While the sentimental value cannot be replaced, the process will hurt a little less when you don’t have to pay out of pocket to totally replace it.

Image of a linear custom rework ring.

How does the cost of reworking a ring compare to buying new?

While one might think that an heirloom rework would be more cost effective because you’re supplying the bulk of the materials, that is not always the case. It completely depends on the heirloom materials and the scope of the project. If you’re supplying a 1.00ct Round Brilliant Diamond and asking us to set it in our Camille Solitaire, then it is more cost effective than buying the same thing brand new. If you’re wanting to create a custom band with stones from an heirloom broach, the pricing may be higher because we have to start from scratch: inspect & pull your materials, generate CAD renderings, grow a 3D model, create a one-off mold, cast the new mounting, set the stones, refine, polish and appraise the finished piece. When you buy something new from our line collection, we’ve gotten a head start on the process with the help of permanent molds, so we’re able to cut production time in half and offer a similar item at a comparable or lower price point. You may find yourself wondering, does the sentimental value outweigh the additional spend? Our job is to be transparent and help our clients navigate what makes the most sense for them and their budget! 

Are you able to reset rings with any gemstone? Are certain stones easier to work with than others?

If it means something special to you, then it means something to us as well! We’ll never turn down a gemstone from a quality standpoint, however our team always inspects the piece before we pull it apart to make sure the stones are stable enough to withstand that process. Harder gemstones like diamonds and sapphires are almost always a yes but, while we love to work with softer stones (like emeralds, opals and tanzanites), these can be much more fragile. If a stone has lots of scratches on the surface, tiny chips or worn edges, we can actually have our lapidary do a quick polish and make the stone look brand spanking new again. However, if a stone is cracked, has surface reaching inclusions or seems fragile internally, then we’ll recommend leaving the piece intact. Better to have something to hand down than nothing at all!

Side by side of an heirloom rework before and after.

How long does the process typically take?

The heirloom rework timeline can vary! If you know exactly what you’re looking to make and need zero exploration, the process takes about 8-10 weeks from start to finish. If you’re looking for us to source additional materials, create a design package, or run through several rounds of CAD edits, then that can increase the lead time to 10-12 weeks. 

What is the difference between heirloom and vintage?

Most heirlooms could be considered vintage or potentially antique depending on how old they are and the design era. But not all vintage pieces are heirlooms. Provenance is key! Where did the piece come from? You can buy a new-to-you vintage piece that will be an heirloom to your future loved ones but it’s not your personal heirloom presently. However, history has to start somewhere and whether the piece is new or vintage the history is starting with you… which is also pretty neat. That’s something we like to envision with almost every single piece that we create for our clients. One day, these pieces will be heirlooms and we want them to have that “something special” allure and be durable enough to withstand getting there, too.

flat lay of an heirloom rework cluster white diamond ring.

To learn more about our custom & heirloom rework process, you can book an appointment below. We can’t wait to chat with you!

More from the journal

Unique Wedding Bands and Engagement Rings - Marrow Fine
black diamond Custom Fine Jewelry Diamond alternatives Unique engagement rings

Unique Wedding Bands and Engagement Rings

Stand out from the crowd with a unique engagement ring and wedding band combination!

August 27, 2019

two hands with Marrow rings holding each other

Summer Style: 5 Jewelry Trends We're Loving

See all the trends we're loving for summertime styles.

July 19, 2022

close up of 'love your bones' sign

Marrow On The Road: Pop-Up Tour

We’re hitting the road and bringing all of our stacking goodness, custom design consultants, and one-of-a-kind pieces with us! Read more about what goes on at our trunk show pop-ups here!

February 25, 2020

Your bag