This is another of our side projects, spurred by a rather forgettable occasion when my mum was scammed in Sri Lanka into buying a rather expensive sapphire gem. Thankfully I managed to prove the scam, the banks reimbursed the amount, and we were left with a rather fancy stone. But what to do with it? Modernizing Fanfan’s heirloom engagement ring.
There’s something a little magical about heirloom engagement rings. Most of these treasures are unique, timeless, and look just as good as the day they were bought. However, if you want to start a tradition, consider making your own family ring that will be loved for generations.
How to Make Your Own Heirloom Engagement Ring
An heirloom ring can be made from the ground up at the jewellers. For example, Diamondere can create customized pieces that can include almost any setting, gem, cut, and size.
Stick to Classic Styles
Classic styles, like solitaire, round, and three-stones, are present all throughout history and it’s unlikely they’ll disappear anytime soon. However, trends like rose gold have faded with time. If you want to make a ring your children’s children will wear, don’t go for fashionable styles.
Try to consider hand shape or size, as well. Lining the band with diamonds or putting a big stone as an accent may look good on your spouse’s hand, but may look lopsided on others. (Our local guide to buying diamonds).
Choose One Color
Your spouse may appreciate a ruby, emerald, and sapphire encrusted ring, but your children may not. A tri-coloured (and sometimes bi-coloured) gemstone ring is really hard to wear with most outfits, but a mono-coloured ring is much easier to pair with clothing, bags, and other jewellery.
However, any stone that’s clear/white or black will go with anything. We recommend choosing a mono-coloured gemstone ring or a mono-coloured and a black/white diamond ring as an heirloom.
Opt for High Quality
Gemstones are graded by the “Four Cs,” which stand for colour, cut, clarity, and carat. The highest quality gems will have a vibrant colour, virtually no inclusions, and be considered “eye clean.” Carat and cut are up to preference and won’t impact how the gemstone stages.
Since you plan to keep this ring in your family for a very long time, you’ll want to get a band that doesn’t tarnish (like white gold or gold) and gemstones that won’t yellow, crack, or shatter.
How to Modernize an Heirloom Engagement Ring
If you have an heirloom ring already and you don’t want to replace it entirely, you can choose to update it. However, speak to your spouse and family beforehand to gather their input.
Add New Gemstones
In the past, jewellers had a limited supply of gemstones, so most older rings will only have an accent gem or a few small diamonds. Now, you have a wider selection to choose from at a more affordable price. This makes it easier and cheaper to customize your heirloom engagement ring.
Depending on your preference, you can remove the current gems and replace them with new ones, or you could add different gemstones to the band to create an entirely unique ring.
Recut the Gemstones
Older diamonds were cut in a style called the “Old European-Cut,” which is beautiful in its own right. So were the cushion, oval, and baguette-cut that was once used for sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. However, there are more modern cuts that bring out more brilliance in gemstones.
For example, the Tolkowsky cut, a modernized version of the round-cut, is actually better at reflecting light. This cut can even make lower quality gems and diamonds shine beautifully.
Rework the Band
You’ll probably have to resize the band so it can be worn by your fiancé(e). While you’re at it, why not rework the band or change it altogether? If the metal used for the ring is tarnished or broken, consider removing the gems and putting them on a band that will last much longer.
If you want to keep the ring intact, try cutting into the band or adding your initials. You can start a new family tradition, where the person who gives the ring has to engrave something into it.