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3 steps to your Engagement ring upgrade

Engagement ring upgrade: the 3 steps process

Our style and lifestyle change over the years and it’s quite natural that our taste for an engagement ring does too. 

Maybe like me, you went from wearing mostly silver to predominantly yellow gold and your engagement ring doesn’t match your current metal preference. Perhaps you feel more confident than you did when you first got engaged and you wish your ring was a bit bolder or your center stone bigger or in a different shape. Maybe you have reached a milestone in your family life or career and you would like to celebrate that with an upgraded ring on your finger. 

Whatever the reason might be, the process can be daunting and emotionally charged. Since I recently personally went through it, I wanted to share some tips and suggestions to help you successfully achieve the upgrade you desire while preserving the sentimental value of such an important piece of jewelry.

1- Identify what to modify in your engagement ring

The style of the band

You like your center stone as it is but your style has evolved. You would rather wear a different color metal and/or another style of setting. This is the most budget friendly option: you will only pay for the metal of the new ring and labor for resetting the gemstones. You can even get credit towards your new ring by refining your old ring’s metal.

The center stone size

You were in a different financial situation at the time of your engagement and now you feel more comfortable. You would like your engagement ring to reflect that.

Several options here, you can:

  • upgrade for a larger center stone
  • surround your current one with a halo

  • add rings that will surround and enhance your current one.

Adding color gemstones

Maybe you would like to incorporate some colored gemstones to reflect your partner or your children’s birthstones. Perhaps you inherited some family heirlooms you wish to add as a complement to your center stone.

2- Identify what to keep in your engagement ring

The metal

Your engagement ring may have been passed down from a beloved family member. The idea to scrap it breaks your heart. While it will not save you money, because of the extra labor involved, you can melt your current ring and reuse the same metal in your new band.

The center stone

Your center stone carries a sentimental value and while you would like to enhance it, you don’t feel comfortable trading it for another one.

The side stones

You love your side and/or accent stones on your current ring, you simply want to upgrade the center stone this way there is a continuity between the old and the new.

3- The process of upgrading your engagement ring

Now that you have identified what is here to stay and what to change in your original engagement ring, the fun part begins.

  • Spend some time researching online and in physical retail stores what styles appeal to you the most that fit in the criteria defined above. Gather images of your favorite rings on an easy to share cloud based storage.
  • Contact a jeweler you trust to get estimates both on your current engagement ring if it is repurposed or on the making of a brand new one from scratch in the favorite styles you gathered.
  • Once you approve the budget, the jeweler will request a first deposit and start working on your well deserved ring upgrade!

Are you curious to see how I upgraded mine? Read this post

Are you ready to start your ring upgrade project with me: contact me here.

Stay in the loop of new releases and get valuable jewelry information by signing up to my bi-monthly email updates there.

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My wedding ring upgrade

wedding ring upgrade

The original wedding ring

I got married in 2010 and at the time I wore a majority of silver jewelry. I did not want to wear both an engagement ring and a wedding band so I opted for a two in one ring. Something very classic like a traditional round center diamond set high on a simple band wasn’t for me. I always loved pear shaped diamonds and since my ring had a double function I went for a multiple intertwined bands look. My goal was to make something modern but not so trendy that I would get tired of after a few years. Here is what I originally designed with my CAD designer of the time:

I picked a diamond in my husband’s budget of the time, a beautiful pear shaped diamond of 0.46ct in G color VS2 clarity and with the dimensions 6.6mm x 4.1mm. My final wedding band looked like this:

Why I wanted to upgrade my wedding ring

The years went by and I never took off my ring, even when I was working at my bench forging metal. The repetitive vibrations of hammering metal eventually caused a big crack at the tip of my pear shaped diamond. The crack started from the tip and went all the way down to the culet, the bottom part of the diamond. Just like my diamond, I was crushed. I brought it to a lapidarist who tried to salvage my diamond by recutting it in a smaller size, keeping the most weight possible. I ended up losing about 25% of the original weight. 

Over the past years I started making more and more fine jewelry and advertising my bespoke services to my customers. At some point I got self conscious for wearing a ring that was so worn out and with such a small diamond. 

Finding my new center stone

One day I was purchasing gemstones from one of my diamond dealers in Diamond District NYC and I saw a very clean VVS and E color pear shaped diamond. I inquired about the price but it seemed much bigger than my current one and likely out of my budget.

It turns out that this diamond was 0.6ct, slightly more than my original 0.46ct diamond. It seemed very large because its height was very shallow: imagine squeezing a ball of clay between your fingers. The weight of the ball doesn’t change but the top surface becomes bigger. A regular 0.6ct pear shape is usually 7.6mm x 4.6mm from a top view, this shallow 0.6ct diamond is 8.8mm x 5.3mm. This is the typical measurements for a roughly 0.85ct pear diamond!

To maximize the reflections of the light in a gemstone there are some optimal proportions to observe. Stones that are optimally cut to reflect the light command a higher price point. Since this diamond was actually very shallow it was also cheaper so all the better for me. I didn’t want a high sitting diamond because I have an active lifestyle and was afraid it would easily get caught on things.

The making of my new wedding ring

Once I bought the diamond, my CAD designer scanned it and we designed my new ring. I still liked my intertwined bands so I wanted to keep that but have it in yellow gold instead of my original white gold one. For the setting I wanted it to let the diamond shine so I opted for an open bezel and 3 prongs look. Here are the creation files showing the initial ring versus the new design:

It is very common for yellow gold rings to have a white metal head to hold the diamond so that the setting color doesn’t distract from its shine. I chose to have a platinum head on a 18k yellow gold band for that reason.

After we finalized the CAD files, we 3D printed the two parts of the design in wax. My caster then turned the wax of the band into 18k yellow gold and the one of the diamond setting into platinum.

I cleaned the rough metal castings that still displayed all the lines from the wax printing step. Here is how the 18k yellow gold looked before I cleaned it:

After cleaning the metal, it is time to weld the gold and platinum parts together and set the pear diamond. The last step consists of polishing the finished ring to a mirror finish.

To give you an idea of the before and after I wore the two rings side by side:

Needless to say, I am beyond happy with my new wedding ring and I keep my old one as a backup for when I travel!

If this story has inspired you to upgrade your own engagement ring or wedding ring, let’s make your new ring come true together! Start by getting in touch here:

Stay in the loop of new releases and get valuable jewelry information by signing up to my bi-monthly email updates there.

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Story of the firefly necklace

firefly necklace blog post header

The initial brief

Last July I received a lovely email from Jason asking me to make a custom firefly necklace:

“Love your work, I bought a necklace for my wife a couple of years ago and intend to make another purchase for the holidays this year. I wonder if you’ve ever thought about making fireflies? I ask because my youngest son is obsessed with them, so we have to say “goodnight” to the fireflies in our backyard every night before bed. It would be pretty special for us, though I know that might be something you’ve not done before.”

I got really excited to work on a new bespoke piece of jewelry because by experience I know that my customers come up with the best ideas. You may not know this, but almost half of the designs you can find on my eshop actually started as a custom request: the kite, the geometric rose, the Bowie inspired lightning bolts, the aerialists are just a few examples among the bespoke requests I got over the years that made it to my permanent collection by popular request.

The idea of making a firefly necklace was very interesting to me because I already had an enameled butterfly jewelry collection but since fireflies have this magic glow in the dark abdomen, I thought it made them even more compelling and creatively inspiring. Two ideas immediately came to mind: I could either use glow in the dark enamel or sparkly yellow gemstones to portray their unique luminous power. By the way if you’re interested in understanding the phenomenon behind the fireflies bioluminescence, check out this great article.

The gemstone selection

I proceeded with some glow in the dark enamel tests but I wasn’t convinced with the color the enamel had under natural light conditions and since the firefly necklace was going to be an anniversary gift I thought a beautiful bright yellow gem would be more appropriate anyway. I went to my trusted gemstone dealers in NYC Diamond district and selected a few good candidates: yellow beryl, citrine, yellow diamond or sapphire were considered. Jason and I agreed that the color of the yellow sapphire was the most striking and closest to the color the glowing fireflies were projecting.

The design phase

I proceeded with submitting some rough idea sketches to Jason with options for the yellow sapphires to be cut either in a pear shape or in a half moon. We decided on the half moon custom cut and I brought the vibrant oval yellow sapphire I had purchased to my lapidarist so he could make a beautiful half moon cut for our firefly abdomen. Now that I had the exact dimensions of the cut gemstone we were going to use I further refined the sketches, leaving Jason options for the shape and placement of the wings and the overall shape of the abdomen. 

Here is the oval yellow sapphire cut into a half moon shape

The CAD design

Once the final iteration of the drawing was approved, I briefed my CAD designer and got the 3D renderings that enabled us to get a good idea of how the actual firefly necklace would look like. In order to give the polishing tools easy access to the abdomen, we designed the wings as a separate item to be soldered after they had both been fully cleaned and polished. Little pins were added under the wings and holes to the abdomen to leave all guessing out when would be time to solder the wings onto the abdomen, just like perfectly fitting puzzle pieces. The renderings of the firefly necklace being approved, the actual manufacturing process began.

The manufacturing

First, the abdomen and the wings parts were printed in castable wax. This is what you see in purple in the pictures here:

The waxes were then cast in 14K yellow gold and here is how they came out: you can see the sprues aka little parts of metal attaching the pieces to the trunk of the casting tree in the lost wax casting process. Now is it me or do you also see a funny duck face on the abdomen?

I then sawed off the sprues from the rough castings, used finishing bits on my hand piece and gave them a good run in the tumblr. Here is the look before proper polishing:

I wanted to bring out some details of the intricate designs on the firefly wings so the recessed areas defining the different cell sections were left rough while the surface was polished to a shiny finish. Then the 3 parts were assembled according to the plan we made at the CAD stage and soldered together. The half moon cut yellow sapphire nested into its custom designed alcove sitting at the bottom of the abdomen as a beautiful finishing touch. Lastly, the 14k yellow gold chain was soldered from underneath the wings to let the firefly elegantly fly off it with no visible attaching anchor.

Here is the finished firefly necklace in its jewelry box

The delivery

I carefully packaged the finished bespoke firefly necklace and sent it on its way to Jason, hoping it would be just like he had envisioned it. The firefly was a gift from Jason to his beloved wife Chelsea to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first date. I was so happy when he told me how much he loved how the firefly necklace came out and that he just couldn’t wait for the official date to give it to Chelsea: he did so almost right away!

Chelsea was extremely moved by Jason’s gesture and adopted the firefly immediately. Here is what she shared: