A New Life for Your Engagement Ring (and You)

Beth Bernstein

By Beth Bernstein | Jul 15th, 2018

“A diamond is forever,” the 64-year-old DeBeers campaign declares. Relationships sometimes don’t last quite as long. So what do you do with your engagement ring when your fiancé calls it quits or your marriage breaks up? Do you sell the ring or do you break out the diamond to have it redesigned into another piece? Before making this decision, there are a number of aspects to consider. You have quite a few options to create beautiful pieces with the center diamond, side diamonds, and smaller melee diamonds on the surround or the shank. Here are four tips to help you decide what to keep and redesign and what to sell.

1. Make a Clean Break

If you really want nothing to do with the memories of your ex, then make a clean break from the ring as well as the man. Take your lead from Ellen Barkin and her Christie’s sale of all the jewelry Ron Pearlman purchased for her. But if you do decide to sell, beware of where you do so. A ring that was purchased at a retail store is marked up from 2x to 3x depending on the shop. You will most likely get less than the wholesale price, especially if you prefer cash to a trade in. Shop around and compare offers. See what cash buyers offer for your ring and also get an appraisal from Worthy. When many buyers compete for your ring, you’ll often get much more (and there’s no risk to you: you don’t have to sell if you don’t reach the estimate.) With the money you receive for your ring, you can invest in a piece that you love that doesn’t have any negative associations or treat yourself to a vacation.

2. Add a New Chapter to the Ring’s History

If the ring is an authentic Art Deco or Edwardian/Belle Époque antique then you should never break out the diamond, particularly those set white bright cushion, old-mine or European cuts. Instead, I would advise to sell the ring complete as rings like this are in high demand. If the diamond was in your family but you found a beautiful antique shank in platinum with piercing work, engraving and smaller diamonds, sapphires or rubies, you can definitely sell the shank and keep the diamond and have a new piece created for it. This will give you and the diamond a fresh start and earn you some cash to help with the design of the piece being designed.

Antique 1.5 CT Round Cut Solitaire Ring
Antique GIA 1.5 CT Round Cut Solitaire Ring, Sold at Auction for $4,016.

3. Redesign Your Diamonds

If the stone was in a modern or simple setting and wearing it won’t remind you of a past you want to forget, then you can have it re-created into a completely new piece, whether it be a new ring or a pendant. What you design should depend on what you will get the most wear out of and also the quality and size of the diamond. Larger stones that are, for example D-H quality and VVSI or VSI are best for rings as you will want to continue to admire your diamond on your hand—which is really the only place you wear jewelry that you can see it yourself. Smaller melee diamonds, depending how many there are, can be set into eternity bands that can be stacked or can complement your new center stone diamond ring. Smaller central diamonds can be re-designed into a pendant that you will want to wear with everything If the diamonds are large enough on a three stone ring you are re-imagining, you can use the two side stones as diamond studs with or without a newly designed halo and the center stone as a ring or a pendant that will complement each other but not look like “ a set.”

platinum necklace created using a diamond from an engagement ring
This platinum necklace featuring an old mine cut pear shaped diamond was created using a diamond from an engagement ring.

4. Make a Personal Choice

Remember to personalize. This time, your diamond choice is completely about you. For example, if your style has changed and you prefer more of a clean-lined design you will want to set your stones in the same way. Old mine, cushion or European cuts can also be set in streamlined and contemporary settings, showing off the character of the diamonds and your new individuality. Marquise and baguette shapes set vertically at one time might look much more current if set horizontally in rings. Ask a favorite jewelry designer to create a custom piece with their sensibility and you will have a piece you will wear and continue to cherish. And remember: “There may come a time when a lass needs a lawyer, but diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Whether it’s the diamond from your original ring or what the money from selling it brings you, make a choice that makes you happy.

Beth Bernstein

Beth Bernstein

Beth is an author and journalist whose articles have appeared in The Jewellery Editor, Four Seasons Magazine, Accent, InDesign, Departures, Elite Traveler, Lustre, and The Huffington Post.


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