Recycling inherited jewellery: a how-to

Recycling family jewels to create new engagement rings and wedding bands cuts the cost and bumps up the sentiment. Here's how. 

Before and after images of jeweller Diana Porter's bespoke commission from one client using recycled gold and diamonds.

Recycling is the new buzzword in bridal jewellery as designers report an increase in clients who want to create bespoke engagement rings and wedding bands out of inherited jewels. "Jewellers have always been forward-thinking when it comes to recycling - you don't throw away diamonds and gold if they don't suit your style any more," explains jeweller Jon Dibben. Alongside the financial incentive, “the other reason for recycling family gold and gems instead of buying new - and by far the best reason for taking this route - is sentiment,” he continues. 

The emotional connection

Amanda Li Hope's Hexagon ring, created using a diamond from the client's grandmother's brooch.

Dibben recently made recycled wedding rings for a couple from gold that had been donated by both of their families. "Old wedding rings from grandparents and aunts, broken pieces of jewellery that once meant something to those relatives… melting it all together with a big flame before forging it into new bespoke wedding bands seems like an alchemical joining of the two families," he explains.

Amanda Li Hope, another jeweller who regularly designs bespoke engagement rings for her clients using inherited materials, agrees that emotional connection is the driving force. "Using an heirloom piece gives members of the family a chance to be a part of the story," she says.

The taste test

Before and after images of jeweller Diana Porter's bespoke commission from one client using recycled gold and diamonds.

The key is reworking the original jewels so that they suit the new owner's lifestyle and taste. "There is nothing sadder than jewels locked in a safe, not seeing the light of day, because they don't suit the current owner's style," points out jewellery designer Jessica McCormack. Unusual recycling requests aren't out of the ordinary either, according to jeweller Diana Porter, who says that one third of her bespoke commissions incorporate recycled jewellery. "One of my customers had handfuls of old gold jewellery and had it remade into a striking seven-piece cage ring that covered the length of her finger."

Recycling jewellery: a how-to

A sketch by Gee Woods during a bespoke commission.

The unique nature of each client's original materials, and how clear a vision they have of their reworked piece, generally shapes the design process. Gee Woods, a London-based designer, has a clear strategy. "First I meet with the client to discuss ideas and see the old ring, then I draft some sketches and, if necessary, source some additional stones before doing a painting to scale from three angles. Then we start on unsetting the heirloom ring and making the new one," she explains.

Hattie Rickards thinks it's important to get client approval and comment at every stage. "This way they are fully immersed in the process. The client can choose which concepts are turned into drawings, then we do 2D technical drawings, 3D CAD renders and mock-ups and even produce a wax model."  

A diamond brooch remodelled by Jon Dibben into nine rings, including an eternity ring for the client and her three daughters, as well as diamond stacking rings for her five granddaughters’ 21st birthdays.

It can, however, be hard to take apart beautiful original pieces, so be sure you're ready for a new lease of life for your jewels. Dibben has recently converted a beautifully made antique brooch into nine rings. "The family couldn't justify keeping it as a brooch - they didn't wear it - so we are now using the diamonds to make a recycled eternity ring for the client and her three daughters, as well as diamond stacking rings for her five granddaughters' 21st birthdays."

It’s no wonder the idea is catching on; one discarded brooch transformed into a handful of heartfelt rings adds up very nicely indeed. 

Editor's Pick

The Jewellery Editor is for sale

Help us make the future bright

Since founding The Jewellery Editor in 2010, we have grown our digital magazine to be the number one global source of information and inspiration for fine jewellery and luxury watches.

3,500 articles, 150 videos and a reach of over 2 million per month on social media later, we have offered unparalleled and highly respected coverage of our sector. However, despite our editorial success, we are financially struggling as an independent publisher.

Entirely funded, owned and run by Christine and Maria in London, we are now looking to sell The Jewellery Editor so that it can continue to grow in the hands of a different owner. As e-commerce becomes a priority in our industry, we believe there is huge potential for engaging editorial content and are seeking a buyer who shares our values and passion so that under their guidance we can give a bright future to the platform.

We can’t commit to financing the website for much longer so if we don’t manage to initiate any meaningful conversations in the next few weeks, the website will be frozen on 1st April 2018. If and when we find a suitable partner we will revive it and take it to the next stage.

If you are interested to discuss the above, please contact [email protected]

Alternatively, if you are willing to help, you can donate so that in the meantime, we can continue to publish more interesting content.

Terms and conditions

READ MORE

RECOMMENDED

MOST POPULAR

We use our own and third party cookies to improve your experience and our services. If you continue, we consider that you accept their use. You can get more information on your website at cookies policy.