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All engagement rings are special. But every so often we have a customer come to us with a truly sentimental commission. They’ll either have a grandparent’s engagement ring that they would like redesigned. Or stones from some other important family heirloom that they’d like repurposed into their own bespoke engagement ring. It’s a really lovely thing to do. And can add another level of emotional value to what be one of the most important pieces of jewellery they’ll ever own. But it can also be difficult to integrate antique jewellery into a new design.

This is how we set about helping you turn something old and sentimental into something new and doubly so.

Everything You Need to Know About Creating a Bespoke Engagement Ring Using Family Heirlooms

Beautifully bespoke

Every bespoke engagement ring is different. But the process is always the same. We begin by finding out what YOU want. What’s important to you in the design. Whether you have any design ideas already in mind. Which stones you would like included in the ring, And, most importantly, who the ring for – do they work with their hands, what is their style preference, what do they actually need from the ring?

All of these things are the basis of creating something perfectly personalised for the intended wearer. Once we’ve established all of these things, then we can move on to the incorporation of any existing jewellery.

Making the most of family assets

If you’re lucky enough to be in possession of a family heirloom or two, the chances are that they’ll come with some degree of sentimental value. Our job is to try to retain as much or as little of the original character of those heirlooms as you wish.  We can do this through the simple use of the stones or through the integration of some of the design elements. The choice is entirely down to you.

What jewellery can be repurposed?

The short answer here is, ‘pretty much anything’. But, there is a but! Before you set your heart on incorporating your antique jewellery into the design of your custom engagement ring, it can be a good idea to consider the quality of the stones. The value of the gems is neither here nor there. What’s important is the hardness of the stone/s. Diamonds, as most people know, are the strongest gemstones around. They are  rated as a level 10 stone in terms of hardness. Many other stones favoured for jewellery aren’t as hardwearing. Turquoise, for example, is only given a 5 rating on the Mohs scale. While a ‘new’ turquoise stone will be fine for an engagement ring, an antique turquoise may struggle to withstand the remodelling process. So, it’s always worth asking, but it’s important to be realistic.

How do you make a bespoke engagement ring with heirloom jewellery?

The process of repurposing jewellery for a custom engagement ring is essentially the same as any other ring creation. The only difference is that we’ll need to inspect the existing piece to ensure suitability – making sure that the gems aren’t irreparably chipped or cracked – prior to starting work. Otherwise, it’s all very straightforward.

  • We’ll begin with an online consultation, where we’ll work on a shared screen to build your design from scratch.
  • Once you’re happy with the design, we’ll go away and finalise the details, creating 3D photo-quality renders, so you can see exactly what the ring will look like before committing.
  • When you’re ready to proceed, we’ll ask for a deposit and then set the ring creation process into action. Casting the band, sourcing any additional stones, setting and polishing the ring. We also create a photo story book of your ring as we go, so you can show your partner what went into the creation of their ring.
  • Once the ring has been completed, we’ll place it in a beautiful presentation box, ready for delivery or collection whenever you are.

Make sure nobody minds

The only other issue to consider when repurposing family jewellery for a custom engagement ring is make sure that no one else in the family minds. If your gran has given you her engagement ring to use, just make sure that she understands that you’re planning on deconstructing it, rather than keeping it as it is. Likewise, check with your parents who may be expecting to inherit the jewellery. And your siblings who could feel that they have a degree of entitlement too. While your engagement ring should be everything you dreamed it would be, you don’t want it to be bitter-sweet and a reminder of family rifts every time you look at it. After all, there are plenty of other gems available, but you don’t get much choice when it comes to family!

At Durham Rose, we love working on repurposing jewellery projects. It always brings something special; a sense of history and continuation. An extra sense of value, even. We love hearing the stories, the how and the why the original piece of made, who it once belonged to. But more than anything, we love giving it new life and turning it into a ring that will mean so much more to its new wearer. There is something very, very satisfying about that.


If you have a piece of jewellery that you would like repurposed into a bespoke engagement ring, book an online consultation with Durham Rose today.