27

Feb.

Restoring Antique Rings with Antique Diamonds for Engagement Rings

By Calla Gold

White Gold Antique Engagement RingWho Do You Call When you Have an Antique Ring too Worn for Everyday Wear?

Rodney and Taren were referred to Santa Barbara’s Calla Gold Jewelry for antique jewelry restoration after their frustrating experience trying to sort out what to do to be able to wear her antique engagement ring daily.

Rodney and Taren had been living together for five years. Taren had a very simple modern engagement ring from Rodney and they planned to marry.

Antique ring with worn engraving on shank

This Side View Shows Worn Engraving on Antique Ring Before any Work was Done

Rodney’s Grandmother passed on and her beautiful vintage filigree ring was given to him. It was pretty worn out but there was something so special about it.

Family Jewelry Says, “You Are a Part of My Family”

When he showed it to Taren she fell in love with it. Her modern engagement ring was OK, but the filigree details in Rodney’s Grandmother’s ring were just beautiful.

The connection to his family was really more meaningful to her than her modern style engagement ring.

Flattened Ring Prongs - close up

This Diamond is in Danger With it's Prongs Worn Away. Notice the Worn Away Engraving too.

The Challenges of Wearing Antique, Much Worn Rings

The problem was it had been worn hard and lived long and wasn’t strong enough to wear safely anymore. Taren really wanted to get married with Rodney’s family ring. After discussing the ring with family, friends and a couple of other Jewelers they called me.

Do You Need Repair, Or Restoration for Your Antique Ring?

Before pic of ring shank in restoration project

This Ring Shank is Too Thin for Everyday Wear

You may be reading this thinking about restoring antique rings in your own situation. When I first saw Rodney and Taren, they were thinking they needed to size it and have the diamond prongs checked.

They’d been given conflicting advice from, “Do not wear this ring at all anymore, it’s too beaten up. How about this beauty over here?” And the sales pitch would begin, to;

“I can size it but I don’t guarantee it won’t fall apart in a few months. That ring is  running on borrowed time,” to;

“Let’s size it and you just wear it till it falls apart and get something new.”

They really wanted to know exactly what were the weaknesses of Rodney’s Grandmother’s ring and what it would take to extend its life for years not months.

When Restoring Antique Rings, Instead of Doing Little Repairs is Needed

Rodney and Taren’s ring was a great example of what needs to be done when restoring an antique ring for daily wear.

Restored Hand Engraving on Antique Engagement Ring

Side View Showing Restored Hand Engraving and Re-Shanked (Thickened) Ring Shank

I looked over the ring with a magnifying loupe and showed them each weakness and suggested area for improvement. I showed them under magnification so they could see what I saw and understand why what they saw was a weakness.

Seven Elements to Restore on Your Antique or Vintage Rings for Daily Wear

1. The shank of the ring which must be strong to support the upper design.
2. The filigree work which is usually damaged by time and wear
3. Any cracks in the metal in the upper design portion which indicate the element has been worn too thin.
4. Any engraving must be re-done to return the original style of the piece.
5. Locate major design features and re-engrave them so their image is visible once more.

New Prongs on Antique Engagement Ring

Re-Tipped Prongs and New Hand Engraved Details

6. Re-build prongs that have worn down.
7. Replace any lost diamonds or gems with similarly cut diamonds or gems. (Modern cut gems set next to older cut do not blend in. They often make the rest of the gems look dull.)

Rodney and Taren’s ring needed everything mention above, except replacement gems.

We did all the recommended work and Taren is now happily wearing her ring daily.

Do You Have an Antique Ring With Faded Beauty?

Perhaps it’s not too late for your ring. Restoration of period details may give you back a ring you’ve never seen before. Your Grandmother saw it in all it’s amazing detail and you have a dimmed version of it. Consider Antique Jewelry Restoration for your treasured ring.

Calla Gold

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20 Responses to “Restoring Antique Rings with Antique Diamonds for Engagement Rings”

madphoto.com February 29th, 2012 at 5:41 pm


Calla Gold Jewelry is the best Jeweler for antique jewelry restoration. That is where I went when my antique ring had faded beauty. Now it’s stylish and usable again.
madphoto.com

Calla Gold February 29th, 2012 at 9:11 pm


Madeleine,
Thank you for the shout out about antique jewelry restoration. Your ring does really rock now.
Calla Gold

KymberlyFunFit March 1st, 2012 at 8:23 am


Calla: For how long can Taren expect to wear her restored ring? And what kinds of activities wear down a ring the most?

Calla Gold March 1st, 2012 at 9:32 am


Thanks for your good questions Kymberly. Taren can expect her ring to do pretty well for the first ten years. Ten years is when rings usually begin it break down a bit from daily wear depending on their setting style. Your ring which you’ve worn for around 30 years is amazing! The bezel settings are deep and strong and my hat is off to your old Jeweler who made your ring.
As to the activities that cause more wear, we frequently don’t know what we were doing when we knocked out that diamond or broke off that prong. I’m big on having your ring checked regularly rather than take it off all the time to protect it.
If I were to say when not to wear it, I’d say rock climbing, backpacking, maybe horsebackriding. No wait I’m naming all my favorite activities. And for the record I wore my wedding ring rock climbing last spring. I’m the girl that wants to wear her jewelry and I’d rather fix it than pamper it.
You’ll never get a lecture from me about being too hard on your jewelry. That said, gardening, file cabinets and things where your hands are near hard objects are a danger to your ring.
Calla Gold

Jackie Ruka March 1st, 2012 at 10:36 am


What a beautiful difference you made to this antique beauty. Calla Gold Jewelry, you take such love and care with your projects. I had no idea the special mechanics involved in antique ring restoration. So interesting! Thanks Calla for a great article!

Calla Gold March 1st, 2012 at 6:22 pm


Jackie, Thanks for visiting and digging the steps to antique ring restoration. I must say they don’t make ’em like they used to. The detail on this antique ring was so amazing.
Like re-engraving the little flower details on the side. Back in its day it was hand engraved like we did now. There were so many tiny marvels to see as I got to know that wonderful ring.

John March 19th, 2012 at 8:13 pm


Hello Calla Gold Jewelry. Nice rehabilitation of the antique diamond ring. I’ve also read your blog on rhodium plating and have this to say:
I just wanted to say that yellow gold rings could be plated with white gold. However, most white gold jewelry is plated with rhodium a member of the platinum family to achieve that shiny white finish we all so love in the jewelry store window.
White gold is actually a grayish color.The plating process is simple and relatively inexpensive. However, the plating will wear off and you will need to replate the ring relatively often, if you wear it daily. Plating is considered a temporary finish for jewelry. It must be maintained.
Any spot that the rhodium plating is wearing off on a yellow gold ring will be very apparent because of the the color contrast.If you have your heart set on a particular style of ring in white gold and it is no longer being made because the company has gone out of business, I would find a jeweler who does custom work and would be willing to make the ring in white gold for you.
John

Calla Gold March 22nd, 2012 at 11:29 am


John,
Thanks for writing! You seem to know a lot about the lesser known details in jewelry making. Thanks for stopping by.
Calla Gold

Executive Coach March 30th, 2012 at 9:03 am


I too had a similar situation with some even more complicating details with my heirloom ring and Calla Gold Jewelry solved them all. No problem is too big a challenge for Calla and I love her for that!
Appreciatively,
Lynn
Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach
http://www.lynnkjones.com

Calla Gold March 30th, 2012 at 9:16 am


Dr. Lynn,
I appreciate you for mentioning your wonderful Antique Heirloom ring that you had me restore. It’s one thing to talk about restoring antique jewelry and quite another to have someone I’ve done it for give me a shout out for it.
Thank you,
Calla Gold

Loose diamond May 8th, 2012 at 2:45 am


Very good posts and pictures on your Calla Gold Jewelry website. I haven’t come across such a good website for a really long time. Keep up the good work.

Calla Gold May 10th, 2012 at 8:31 pm


Hi Flo,
Thanks for visiting. Since you visited my antique rings and antique diamonds blog post, I’m guessing you like vintage looking jewelry.
Since it’s hard to know what size her fingers might be, you might get your mom some nice earrings.
Or a pendant with a meaningful symbol that she’s love to get from you like a heart or an angel. You are probably her little angel.
Good luck in selecting the right loving jewelry for your mom.
Calla Gold

Joseph July 14th, 2013 at 3:16 pm


Restoring a diamond ring carefully is a daunting task. Thanks to Calla Gold for making us aware of some useful tips to restore our precious diamond rings.

Calla Gold August 24th, 2013 at 4:53 pm


Hi Joseph,
I appreciate your enjoyment of the tips I shared. There is nothing like the fun feeling you get with revealing how great an antique ring looks after it has been restored to its former beauty and unique period detail.
Calla Gold

Martha October 29th, 2013 at 12:55 pm


Jeweler Gold,
I’m impressed, I need to say. Honestly rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining. Let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your thoughts on re-using older diamonds and antique diamonds are outstanding. This is a topic that I have done a bit of searching online about. I don’t need a new diamond, but my grandma’s ring is not ready for prime time.
I’m rather pleased that I stumbled across this in my search for some thing relating to this.
Martha

Calla Gold October 31st, 2013 at 6:45 am


Martha,
Thanks for coming by. I hope you are about to repair or restore your grandma’s ring and wear it feeling the love she had for you.
Calla Gold

charlotte beaird May 1st, 2014 at 9:43 pm


Does restoring an antique platinum diamond ring decrease the value of it? I am not selling. Just afraid if I change it, it will not be as valuable as the original when my grandchild inherits it from me. Just wondering?
Thanks

Calla Gold May 2nd, 2014 at 7:13 am


Charlotte,
I very much appreciate your question. There are signed designer pieces of jewelry that can be negatively effected by change or poorly done repairs. However, the vast majority of our rings are not made by known designers. An antique ring must be over 100 years old to be classified as “antique”. Most peoples rings are not actually that old.
An appraiser would be the one who would know best whether your particular ring would be devalued by the work to be done on it.
In my own experience working with older rings, they have been worn quite a bit and are in danger of being damaged, cracked or losing gemstones if they are put into regular rotation wear without repair or restoration to build up the weak parts and fix up worn down prongs.
I’m a believer that the most important thing to do is to make the ring beautiful, strong and capable of being worn and enjoyed. The ring’s value to me is in being worn and seen and loved. Some people try to preserve a ring by leaving it in the safe deposit box. Years later a lawyer hands it over to niece Kelly. Kelly has never seen it before and doesn’t realize or remember that it belonged to her great aunt and in a financial crunch might pawn it or something. If she’d seen you wear it, because you’d restored it for safe wear and heard the stories of her great aunt, she’d have cherished it when it came to her and worn it with love and a feeling of family connectedness.
To me that is the proper thing to do. Restore it, wear it, tell great stories of who wore it before you and let Kelly know it is destined for her and she’ll anticipate it and love it when she receives it.
Rings cannot go on forever, they wear down, break down, lose diamonds and lose the details of their engraving. That all needs to be addressed by someone knowledgeable about the time period the ring was made in.
These are my opinions on restoring older rings.
Antique Ring Restoring Jeweler,
Calla Gold

Pam Swartz June 13th, 2015 at 2:23 pm


Hello, I am writing you for advice. I took my mother’s vintage 1923 engagement ring – which I emphasized to the jeweler – “This is the ONLY heirloom I have of my mother’s.” I clearly said this many times. I handed him my current wedding ring set and asked the jeweler if he could use the diamond in it to replace the missing diamond in my mother’s ring? He said it was smaller but he could build up the area where the diamond would sit until such time that I could find a larger round diamond.

To shorten this – I will say that he sent me a CAD (computer generated design) of what I believed was a picture of the ring after repairs were made. I had a problem with the whole picture and went into the store and told him that. He said it was because of the yellow ink and the large magnification. so I reluctantly agreed to the process (?).

Last week, I went into the store and the ring looked nothing like my mother’s ring. And lo and behold he hadn’t even used her ring – he had only removed the small diamonds to put into the newly created ring. Which I did Not like! I almost fainted when I saw my dear mother’s precious ring being shaken out of an envelope and laying there with all diamonds removed.

He was very upset and rude when I said, “what is the ring doing here?” I told him that the whole point was that I wanted to have my mother’s ring restored as best he could – not an entirely new ring made! For heavens sake I could have bought another ring if that was all I wanted!

There is a lot more to this nightmare of a story. He angrily said he is going to place the diamond chips back into my mother’s ring and put the diamond from my engagement ring back into my ring and then return everything to me as they were when I brought them into him.

I am just sick about the entire thing. I have already given him $600 and doubt that I will ever see that money again – so I have spent that and have nothing to show for it.

I am writing this hopefully so no one else will have such a thing happen to them. Please choose the restorer carefully and get everything in writing!

Thank you for reading,

Pam

Calla Gold June 14th, 2015 at 7:28 am


Dear Pam,
Your story is heartbreaking. It seems that this fellow did not hear your needs and heard what he thought you said or what he thought you should want. I have met jewelers who “know best” and will moan and complain about someone’s “out of fashion” preferences. They want to “show them” how wrong they are. So of course the ring comes out accentuating the aspects that jeweler objects to. It pains me to hear a story like this now and then.
For others reading this, the first red flag I heard of was when he presented you with a CAD (Computer Aided Design). CADs are traditionally, at least when I’m working with someone, shown before the creation of a wax to be cast into a new ring. So if I saw a CAD I’d be thinking, “this guys is making a new ring and I asked him to work on my existing ring.”
I had a similar inheritance request with my client Belinda. She had inherited her mom’s old wedding set. Her engagement ring was simple with a .25ct. diamond in it. Her mom’s ring had a beautiful 1ct. diamond in it. She wanted to put her moms diamond into her simple engagement ring. The kicker was that she loved the older setting. It had a filigree open work style of detail on the side. It was ornate. It was also badly worn with thin and chipped prongs and cracked filigree wire work on the sides.
She wanted me to restore the beautiful old setting and then transfer it to her simple engagement ring in place of the six prong tapered setting that currently held her .25ct. diamond.
It wasn’t something I could do without having slightly larger and in my view unacceptable add-in’s of thicker gold for the prongs and in various places on the side. Her mom’s ring had protected this setting that was slowly breaking down. But the simple band of Belinda’s engagement ring couldn’t support the old dear setting. My cutting it out of the old ring would probably weaken it further.
I understood her desire for the connection to her mom. I suggested I make a replica of the filigree setting in such a way that it’d taper a bit more making it very pretty when paired with the simplicity of her engagement ring.
To say Belinda was terrified wouldn’t be exaggerating.
First we made a wax of the setting and I emailed her. She approved that. Then I cast it in platinum and set her 1ct diamond. The final step was to add some hand engraving appropriate to the period the ring was made in.
The juxtaposition of old and new on her engagement ring was really pretty. Her engagement ring was 18kt yellow gold, so she had a pretty two tone feel. The two colors somehow highlighted the differences in style to set off her filigree setting for her 1ct. diamond.
Belinda was so relieved that it worked aesthetically. She’d done it to keep her mom’s memory close and realized it could look weird. But her feeling was that she was doing it to please herself.
Belinda called me a couple weeks after picking it up and told me that a number of people including strangers had complemented her ring. She was really pleased.
I’m telling you this story so you’ll know that there are three basic choices this jeweler had with your ring:
1. Do an alteration of the setting to hold a smaller diamond
2. Do a duplicate of the setting in style, but in a smaller scale and combine it into the existing ring
3. Make up a whole new ring that was a perfect replica of the older ring, except for a smaller setting for the smaller diamond
I haven’t seen your ring and I want to say that of those choices not all are realistic. But they are the basics that your jeweler would consider when looking at your ring when hearing your request. Ideally he’d go over the choices and explain why this one wouldn’t work and that one was better. And ideally say, now that you’ve heard what I suggest what do you think?
I believe in informing you of what I’m thinking about and why I don’t want to do your first choice. There are work arounds and creative problem solving going on all the time with the projects that come to me.
I’m really sorry for the experience that you had.
Before you choose your next jeweler, you might like reading my blog about choosing a jeweler:
http://www.callagold.com/choosing-a-jeweler-2/how-to-choose-a-jeweler-16-questions-to-ask-yourself/
Thank you for sharing your story,
Calla Gold

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