Aging Engagment Ring Questions

Sep 13, 2007
6,141
3,944
The prairies of the Midwest
The gold on the back of my engagement ring has grown very thin over the years. Worried that it may soon wear all the way through, I took it to a jewelry store in town that's known for excellent craftsmanship to see if they could add some gold. Their goldsmith looked at the ring and said that the gold on the prongs holding the diamond in place is also wearing thin. Ideally the mounting should be replaced, but they could also solder some gold to the prongs for a sort of temporary fix that should last a few years. To fix the back of the ring they would cut off the shank and affix a new gold backing to the ring. All this would cost about $365-$375. That would include adding a new mounting. Cost would be about $275 to simply add gold solder to the prongs while replacing the back of the ring.

The ring is a solitaire, with a traditional Tiffany-style setting.

An alternative would be to buy a new ring setting, which is really not what I want to do since I love this ring, DH picked it out for me so many years ago, and it bears all the sentiment of that.

But here's the clincher. They had in their sample box a ring setting that's nearly identical to my ring, it's my size, it would fit my stone, and since this style seems to have gone out of fashion, they offered it to me at just a bit over $200. My reservations include the fact that the white gold ring mount (the prongs, or crown or whatever it's called) don't look quite as substantial around the base as those of my current ring. And of course, it's not the ring DH bought me.

My questions:
What would you do?
Does anyone have an engagement ring in which the prongs have worn down due to age, and what did you do about it?
Has anyone ever replaced the back of their engagement ring when it thinned?
Anything else I should consider?
 

brae

Member
Aug 2, 2013
889
469
My questions:
What would you do?
Does anyone have an engagement ring in which the prongs have worn down due to age, and what did you do about it?
Has anyone ever replaced the back of their engagement ring when it thinned?
Anything else I should consider?
Yes yes yes. Well, my mother's ring. I found out TWO off her prongs were chipped off, just in time. She had them repaired and now you can barely tell. I have seen shanks redone because of wear. I don't think it will be a problem at all. You may be able to see a seam depending on the skill of the craftsman if inspected closely.

This is really going to be your decision ultimately... if you bought the new ring even though it's practically the same, can you love it just as much? Maybe have a set up to where your husband gives it to you... something to make it more special? The fact that it's a little less substantial is pretty normal because of the way things are made these days and with gold prices being so high.

When I had my engagement ring made, I used a lot of old gold jewelry I never wore from my childhood... they melted it for me and made my ring out of it.
Even more special- I also had my grandmothers old engagement ring turned into a new ring with her old gold (I can post a pic in a minute).
You could always have the old engagement ring melted down and used in custom piece of jewelry? Maybe a pendant to house a gemstone or diamond that you wear everyday so it's still with you.
 
Sep 13, 2007
6,141
3,944
The prairies of the Midwest
Yes yes yes. Well, my mother's ring. I found out TWO off her prongs were chipped off, just in time. She had them repaired and now you can barely tell. I have seen shanks redone because of wear. I don't think it will be a problem at all. You may be able to see a seam depending on the skill of the craftsman if inspected closely.

Oh that's interesting! Did the jeweler add two new prongs?


This is really going to be your decision ultimately... if you bought the new ring even though it's practically the same, can you love it just as much? Maybe have a set up to where your husband gives it to you... something to make it more special?

That's a cute idea! Love it. Thing is Mr. Old & Cynical would never go for it. He said "I don't see why you even wear an engagement ring anymore. It's not like we're engaged." :P


For me the problem is I just can't see a new ring as being the same, especially if it's less substantial than the original.


When I had my engagement ring made, I used a lot of old gold jewelry I never wore from my childhood... they melted it for me and made my ring out of it. Even more special- I also had my grandmothers old engagement ring turned into a new ring with her old gold (I can post a pic in a minute).


That's wonderful! I'd love to see pics. I did not know that you could do that.


A few years ago I called around to local jewelry stores and asked whether I could bring in some old gold and have it turned into a custom ring. Everyone told me no, they would buy the gold from me, but for custom orders they used specially pre-packaged gold in little packets or some such nonsense to ensure the purity of the gold they used.
 

Asscher

O.G.
Mar 17, 2008
889
3
It's way costlier to make a new setting using old gold than new gold. They can't just use your old gold as it is. They have to refine the old gold as these pieces most probably aren't 24 k. Refining only a few pieces is not cost effective. Someone who wants to use old gold to make new jewelry effectively pays for refining cost and most probably alloying cost. These would cost more than using pre packed gold.

In some places where 24 k gold is the norm, one can bring it in and they can melt it for you and make new jewelry out of it.

I'd reshank the current ring and just ask them to rebuild all 4 prongs instead of just adding solder. I might also buy their sample ring which is similar to yours to keep in the event that you need to change setting one day and can't find one exactly like yours anymore.
 
Last edited:
Sep 13, 2007
6,141
3,944
The prairies of the Midwest
It's way costlier to make a new setting using old gold than new gold. They can't just use your old gold as it is. They have to refine the old gold as these pieces most probably aren't 24 k. Refining only a few pieces is not cost effective. Someone who wants to use old gold to make new jewelry effectively pays for refining cost and most probably alloying cost. These would cost more than using pre packed gold.

In some places where 24 k gold is the norm, one can bring it in and they can melt it for you and make new jewelry out of it.

I had several pieces of 24K and none of the jewelry stores I spoke with would work with it. They said they didn't do refinery (I live in a smallish town). So I sold it.


I did not know that it was costlier to make a new setting out of old gold than use new gold. That makes sense though.


I'd reshank the current ring and just ask them to rebuild all 4 prongs instead of just adding solder. I might also buy their sample ring which is similar to yours to keep in the event that you need to change setting one day and can't find one exactly like yours anymore.

That's a very good idea, buying the sample ring just in case. Thank you for suggesting it! I'm leaning towards rebuilding the prongs and reshanking the piece but one thing I'm concerned about is whether the fixes and their seams will be as strong as the original ring.
 

Asscher

O.G.
Mar 17, 2008
889
3
If it's that BlueNile version, then you don't need to buy the sample ring to keep as that's a very common setting. Show any jeweller that photo and they can order one for you either from Stuller (if you're in US) or any metal findings suppliers they use.

With regard to melting 24 k gold, there are 2 points to note. One is whether if they have easy access to melting gold and reusing. In some countries, some shops can do this for you. A second point is how strict the law is on gold purity. Some require jewellers using pre packed gold to ensure gold purity, along with other measures. Others can just stamp 24 k gold even though it might be 23k. So it depends on which country you live in. Reusing old gold in US is costlier than making new jewelry with new gold but reusing old gold in some countries only requires customers to pay labour for making new jewellery, with no fee on melting the 24 k gold. Once alloyed (meaning non 24 k gold), it has to be refined before reuse.
 

BAGWANNABE

O.G.
Jan 18, 2011
914
171
SHAKER HEIGHTS, OHIO
As an extremely sentimental person, I completely understand your dilemma. Last Thanksgiving, I lost my wedding band in my house. After 5 months of an exhaustive and emotional search, I started to look at replacement bands. I should tell you that my engagement ring looked very similar to yours. When I started putting it next to new bands, nothing clicked like my original band. So, I decided to reset my diamond - focusing my sentimentality on the diamond, not the ring. I love my results. I may have my original engagement ring made into a pendant with our anniversary date engraved on it.

In your case, I'd just be concerned about securing the diamond in a way that makes you happy. Good luck with your decision. Keep us posted.
 

Asscher

O.G.
Mar 17, 2008
889
3
I forgot to answer the integrity question. If it's only the bottom half of the ring that needs a reshank, you can tell him that. To build 4 prongs means they will cut off the current prongs and build new prongs with new gold for you. If there's no porosity, new lower half shank and new prongs attached to old top shank should be sturdy, no integrity issue. But you will notice that much of your old ring is taken away and that might be an issue if you're sentimental. If so, it's better to use the old setting for a gem stone and get a similar new setting for your diamond. I'm no jeweler but I'd think the integrity is more an issue if I only add solder to the prongs. I'd be more concerned about the prongs than the lower shank here as a diamond can be lost if the prongs are loose.
 

ame

O.G.
Mar 22, 2007
13,472
674
You have to know the quality of this persons work. If they can bulk things up seamlessly, and do a quality job retipping, it's worth doing so. But you really probably need it reshanked, vs a patch job on that end.
 

FelixItsHot

Member
Jul 2, 2014
114
2
New York City
Yup, repairing the old ring would preserve the sentimental value of it.

Also brings to mind that philosophical idea: how much of the old ring can be replaced and still retain its status as the old ring?
 

Sugardragon

Member
Oct 23, 2012
65
10
Make sure they retip all the prongs at the same time. I had an emerald and diamond ring that needed retipping and I was balking at the price (multi-stone ring with lots of prongs). They convinced me that they could just do half the prongs and it would be fine. The new prongs are quite a bit larger than the old prongs and to me the ring looks lopsided now.
 
Oct 17, 2006
1,775
375
For cost and safety reasons, I would get a new ring and melt down the old ring to make a pendant or something. Your current setting is common enough that the price for a new one is not much more than the total cost of repair. Besides, there are just too many uncertainties with the integrity of the repaired ring (repair everything that is needed to fix and do so correctly by a skilled henchman). I think I would be more bothered by losing the diamond than the old setting.

Look at the situation this way. Here is your chance to "upgrade". Do you want to stick with a classic solitaire or something else?
 

BAGWANNABE

O.G.
Jan 18, 2011
914
171
SHAKER HEIGHTS, OHIO
For cost and safety reasons, I would get a new ring and melt down the old ring to make a pendant or something. Your current setting is common enough that the price for a new one is not much more than the total cost of repair. Besides, there are just too many uncertainties with the integrity of the repaired ring (repair everything that is needed to fix and do so correctly by a skilled henchman). I think I would be more bothered by losing the diamond than the old setting.

Look at the situation this way. Here is your chance to "upgrade". Do you want to stick with a classic solitaire or something else?
+1 That's what I was trying go say above. Just not so clearly. :smile: