Expert Guide to Resetting an Heirloom Engagement Ring

Yes, you can change your ring while retaining the sentimental value.
Person designing engagement ring
Photo: New Africa | Shutterstock
Elle Cashin headshot
Elle Cashin
Elle Cashin headshot
Elle Cashin
The Knot Fashion Contributor
  • Elle writes for The Knot online with a focus on fashion, covering gown design trends and shoppable accessories.
  • Elle is a contributor to wedding publications across the country, including Brides, The New York Times Vows and Modern Luxury Weddings.
  • Prior to shifting to weddings, Elle covered lifestyle, culture and celebrity across Chicago as the editor of the Chicago Tribune’s SPLASH magazine, where she interviewed cele...
Updated Jan 29, 2024

There are countless reasons you might look into resetting an heirloom engagement ring: Maybe the design is dated, the metal is tarnished or it's simply not your style. Tradition and the personal significance of heirlooms are certainly valuable—heirloom pieces are beautiful reminders of the love your ancestors shared—but it's equally important that you love the ring you will be wearing forever after.

When it comes to resetting, the options are infinite. We turned to Jillian Sassone, jewelry designer and founder of Marrow Fine, to guide us. Though her brand now has boutiques in three cities and is known for its everyday-wear fine jewelry pieces, it all began with an heirloom: a ring passed down to Sassone from her grandmother. Sassone redesigned the piece on her own and suddenly had a list of clients who wanted her to do the same for their heirlooms.

"Re-designing an heirloom can go so many different ways," Sassone says. "Some reworks are very straightforward, where we simply swap a classic ring from white gold to yellow gold. Our clients also love toi et moi reworks because they can combine something old with something new or incorporate stones from both families." Sassone has done redesigns that pay homage to the original with a modern twist and reset old diamonds into completely different styles. "Thanks to CAD and modern casting technology, the design options are almost endless." Here, she provides further insight into the process.

Rules for Resetting an Heirloom Engagement Ring

When deciding whether to reset your heirloom engagement ring, there are a few do's and don'ts to consider. First, there is etiquette around accepting (or not) a family heirloom engagement ring. Remember that an heirloom diamond ring is incredibly meaningful, so first and foremost, show gratitude to your partner for bestowing the piece upon you, and be respectful in broaching the topic. Once you've agreed and decided to redesign the heirloom engagement ring, take note of these tips from Sassone.

Don't be afraid to speak up about ideas you may have.

"[You should] be over-the-moon about your design, so more is more when it comes to design details that matter to you," says Sassone.

Do look for inspiration.

"Spend some time looking for inspiration, especially of designs with similar size and shape stones," she recommends. (Psst, check out Marrow Fine's library of previous bespoke pieces as a starting point for resetting engagement ring ideas!). "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 forget about insurance.

It's a standard step in buying a new ring but is often overlooked in the heirloom resetting process. "Insurance is so, so key!" Sassone says. "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 replace it." At Marrow Fine, they make insuring the ring a crucial step in the resetting process. "Once a new heirloom piece is completed, we provide an appraisal from a trusted third party and guide customers through the insurance process," says Sassone.

Don't limit yourself to a total redesign, especially if your partner has qualms about it.

There are other, more subtle ways to update an heirloom engagement ring. "You can explore personalizing the heirloom with some stacking bands before committing to a full rework," Sassone recommends.

Where to Get an Heirloom Engagement Ring Reset

A local jeweler is always a great start (explore The Knot's Vendor Marketplace to find standout jewelers in your area). With a local jeweler, you can bring in the physical piece so they know what they're working with, sit down to see sketches and discuss design details and customization, see similar diamond or gemstone heirloom engagement rings in person, and more. That said, there are certainly online jewelers to work with through this process. Marrow Fine started with heirloom resetting, and Sassone sticks to her roots by offering custom redesign consults and services both at her San Diego flagship and virtually. Mociun is another jeweler with a retail store (in Brooklyn) but a large national following and a proven history of resetting heirloom stones. The virtual process involves more phone or Zoom calls, sending the piece away and perhaps a little more trust—but with epic results.

How Much Does it Cost to Reset an Heirloom Ring?

"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," Sassone says. "It completely depends on the heirloom materials and scope of the project." She offers a few examples. "If you're supplying a one-carat 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 want to create a custom band with stones from an heirloom broach, the pricing may be higher because we have to start from scratch: Inspect and pull 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." It's essentially the same process as working with a jeweler to create a new custom engagement ring. There is a middle ground: Some jewelers, Marrow Fine included, have a signature or classic collection. "When you buy something new from that 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," Sassone says. "You may wonder, does the sentimental value outweigh the additional spend? Our job is to be transparent and help clients navigate what makes the most sense for them and their budget."

How Long Does it Take to Reset an Heirloom Ring?

The timeline varies depending on the same reasons the price might vary; but, at a minimum, you should allow eight to 10 weeks for an heirloom reset, so consider that if you're planning to propose with a redesigned heirloom or want it ready for your wedding day. "If you know exactly what you're looking to make and need zero exploration, the process takes about eight to 10 weeks from start to finish," Sassone says. "If you're looking for us to source additional materials, create a design package, or run through several rounds of CAD edits, that can increase the lead time to 10 to 12 weeks."

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