Redesign your old jewelry and breathe new life into pieces that just don’t suit your style!
Many customers come to me with old jewelry they no longer wear. Like the diamonds from their first engagement ring. A cherished piece they inherited. Or something they purchased years ago that they just don’t love anymore.
Redesigning old jewelry is a wonderful way to honor your history.
But the process needs to start with a bit of education.
Redesigning old jewelry: reusing the stones
Using existing diamonds in your redesigned jewelry can save you significant money. There are a few things to consider:
Single-cut diamonds. A diamond’s ‘cut’ refers to the symmetry and proportion of the stone. Decades ago, diamond cutters used techniques that are no longer common today. As a result, the diamonds in your older jewelry may be ‘single cut’.
How are older single cut diamonds different from today’s full-cut stones? A single-cut diamond will have 17 or 18 facets and today’s full-cut, round diamonds will have 58.
This is important because the number of facets impacts a diamond’s fire and brilliance.
Single-cut diamonds are sometimes preferred for their warmer, more romantic glow. But they don’t pair well with full-cut diamonds.
No worries! If you want to use older diamonds I will match the cut of your existing stones in the redesigned piece. This is the attention to detail that results in a gorgeous new piece.
Scratches. Older stones experience wear and tear over the decades. The good news: I can bring them back to their original luster.
I remove the stones from their settings. And then work with an expert who uses special machinery and chemicals to remove the scratches.
Depending on the depth of the grooves, the process may reduce the size of the stone a little. Often the difference is not noticeable.
Special cuts. If your old piece has a cabochon-style gemstone – dome-shaped with a flat bottom – it’s important that the sides of the stone are well-protected in the new piece as well.
When redesigning their old jewelry, I work with my clients to choose a style that is both functional and beautiful.
Synthetic gemstones. Older rings often use synthetic gemstones. It can be disappointing to discover that grandmother’s stone isn’t genuine. But the sentimental value almost always outweighs the initial reaction. I’ve made some gorgeous pieces with older, synthetic gemstones.
Redesigning old jewelry: reusing the gold
When it comes to re-using the gold from your old jewelry, my advice is not quite as positive. There are two main reasons why this is not always a good idea:
Single castings use more gold. Casting a single piece of new jewelry, with the gold from your old piece, uses more gold and is a time-consuming process that can add to your costs.
To understand why, here are some basics about the casting process. The mold used to cast jewelry has a passage where the liquid gold is introduced into the piece. During the casting process the excess gold in this passage – called the sprue – will solidify. To do a single casting with your existing gold, you need enough material for the new piece of jewelry and for the sprue (which is yours to keep).
When I make new pieces of jewelry with new gold, I send them to Montreal for casting. They are combined with pieces from many other jewellers in the region and cast together. Not only does ‘ganging’ the pieces require less extra gold for the sprue but the caster re-uses this piece himself. Customers are not charged for it and don’t have to deal with saving it.
Although casting a single piece of jewellery with old gold is inefficient, the most important concern is this:
The instability of old gold. 14k gold jewelry is made up of pure gold (58%) and other metals (42%). 10k gold is the opposite: 42% pure gold and 58% alloys.
When recycling old jewelry, there’s never a problem using the pure gold over and over again.
The issue is the alloys, particularly those in white gold. Through the melting and recasting process, these alloys can become unstable. As a result, the new piece of jewelry may be discolored or have tiny pit marks in it. (Or worse, split while I’m working with it).
When using old gold, I always warn my clients about the potential risks before I start. For the ones that have taken the chance, their pieces have turned out really well with only minor blemishes (that I had to point out for them to see).
When it comes to redesigning old jewelry, together we can create a beautiful new heirloom. I’m happy to brainstorm what can be done with the old jewelry in the bottom of your jewelry box! Contact me now.