Lylie Answers Your Questions ... Remodelling a Family Heirloom into an Engagement Ring

Lylie Answers Your Questions ... Remodelling a Family Heirloom into an Engagement Ring

Remodelling heirlooms is a centuries-old art that is becoming increasingly popular and sophisticated. Lylie’s Sustainable Jewellery recognises the opportunity provided from inherited jewellery, which, although beautiful and sentimental, can look outdated. From resizing pieces, recycling precious metals, to resetting stones, we can transform an unloved item or items into a bespoke engagement ring. This not only provides a cost-effective, sustainable means of crafting jewellery, it also connects your past and present story, making the bespoke engagement ring wrapped around your finger even more symbolic.

How does the process begin if I want to remodel an heirloom?
The remodelling process starts with a consultation, either in our studio, at your home, or via Zoom, to study the heirloom and establish your jewellery taste. We will discuss your likes and dislikes by examining other jewellery, as well as what you find special about your heirloom. From this, over the course of 3 weeks, I will come up with 3 watercolour sketch designs that converge your jewellery taste with the heirloom’s features. The new piece could recycle the heirloom’s precious metal to become another item or upcycle its stones. It all depends on how far you would like it to depart from its original design.

Before taking the plunge, there are a few considerations we always advise: could the heirloom grow on you? Does it just need a re-polish and/ or restoration to make it sparkle again? Or does it need to be completely remodelled to turn it into a treasured piece?

I would like to come for a consultation. What can I bring to help steer you in the right direction for a design I would like?
It’s always helpful to bring along jewellery of yours that you like and dislike and to think about why this is: perhaps it is the feel, the size, the stones, the shape, the metal, or the weight. Also, it’s brilliant if you can create a Pinterest mood board to give me an idea of your jewellery style; it’s often enlightening for you too! Do take a look at the ones we have made. Essentially, to make the experience and end product completely bespoke, anything that helps me to understand you is welcome. I want to create a piece of jewellery that you will adore wearing.

I have pieces containing a lot of precious metal, but I’m not sure what carat they are. What should I do?
Send them to us, often examining them under a jeweller’s loupe reveals hidden tiny hallmarks. If this doesn’t work, we can do an x-ray test. This takes 1 week and costs £10 per piece of jewellery.

Is it true that you lose a lot of precious metal when remaking the jewellery?
In general, between 3-5%.

Are there any technical restraints?
So far, I have never found any.

I can’t decide if remodelling my grandmother’s 1950’s Cartier engagement ring would diminish its value. Do you have any advice?
There is nothing sadder than jewellery locked in a safe, not seeing the light of day because it doesn’t suit the current owner’s style. That said, sometimes the value is in the design, not the materials. This would likely be the case for a Cartier ring. I suggest asking an auction house to value it and then compare this to the value of its materials, which we could provide. You can then decide whether the monetary difference between the two outweighs the sentimental value of weaving your grandmother’s story into your bespoke engagement ring. If so, I suggest selling it and starting again.

I like the design of my aunt’s engagement ring but want to jazz it up a bit. Do you have any ideas?
What about a party jacket for it? That way you can retain the ring you like but add additional sparkle for dressed up outfits.

I’ve inherited a magnificent box of jewellery from a great aunt that I would love to give to my wife but it’s a little dated or too lavish for her tastes. Can you help?
Absolutely. With a whole box of jewellery to give a new lease of life, there would be many different ways we could remodel the jewels into stylish, contemporary, and timeless classics. You could recycle and reshape the precious metals of one, repurpose a brooch into a necklace for another, or upcycle a ring by combining it with others. This could be done with the input of your wife or as a complete surprise.

Where will the ring be made?
The ring will be handcrafted in the U.K by our team of highly skilled goldsmiths, stone setters, polishers, and engravers.

How long will the ring take to be made?
Once we have agreed on the design, it will take around 8-10 weeks to make the ring, depending on its complexity. Should you be in a hurry, it is possible to fast track it, so please mention this when you get in touch.

Please click here to book a consultation with Lylie.


Eliza Walter


Zoe Warde-Aldam

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