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A New Lease of Life – How to Recycle Jewellery

Open any jewellery box and without doubt lurking in its depths will be several pieces inherited or gifted from beloved relatives, that, while of huge sentimental value, never see the light of day. Many may well feature stunning gemstones  but the design or style of the piece is either dated or not to your taste, or there is the danger of losing the stones due to thin shanks or worn out claws.

Recycling the metal and gemstones from old jewellery is a great way of retaining all the memories and significance that go with them but creating a piece of jewellery that is true to the owner’s own taste and style.

Meghan Markles engagement ring

Recycling jewellery

Jewellery and gemstones have been recycled for hundreds of years. One of the most famous stones that has lived on across the centuries is the Sapphire  set in the Maltese Cross on top of the Imperial State Crown. Legend has it that it belonged to Edward the Confessor in the 11th Century and was buried with him, but whilst being reinterred during Tudor times it was removed.

A more recent example of recycling gemstones is Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex’s engagement ring, which features two small diamonds  from Princess Diana’s personal collection.

Redesigning or remodelling jewellery can also give it a new lease of life. Among the inherited jewellery languishing in dusty jewellery boxes will be brooches. Once hugely popular at a time when no outfit was complete without one, these items are now considered very old-fashioned and rarely worn. But by reusing the materials and stones the brooch was made from, a whole new and unique piece, such as a ring, earrings or a pendant, can be created, retaining both the financial and emotional value of the original, while making it a more wearable piece. However if you love the brooch but just wouldn't wear it as a brooch then making it into a pendant and keeping the design is relatively easy alteration to make.

Recycled Yellow Sapphire

Resetting gemstones

Far from restricting a jewellery designer’s creativity, an old piece of jewellery and the sentiment and story that comes with it can be a huge source of inspiration. Many jewellers offer a remodelling service and relish the challenge of taking an existing piece and turning it into something modern and wearable, while retaining the essence of the old.

When seeking to remodel jewellery and reset gemstones, there are a number of important factors to take into consideration. The first is to find a jeweller whose style you like and to find out if they offer a jewellery remodelling service. If they do, take the piece in and ask for their suggestions as to how they would re-use the metal and/or the gemstones. The second is what type of jewellery you like to wear. If the original piece is a ring and you don’t wear rings, explore having the stones made into a pendant instead. This is a good point to consider whether you would like to add other gemstones to the piece , to complement the original stones or to create something truly personal to you, with the colours and shapes you like.

If your recycled piece of jewellery is to be worn daily it is also important to ensure that the stones are robust enough for daily wear. For example, Emeralds  and Tanzanites  are more fragile than Rubies  and Sapphires  and are more suited to pendants and earrings than rings.

When a new piece is designed and finished the stones will have metal around them so the piece may look bigger than expected. Fine jewellery designers always design to the actual size. If the jeweller allows you to, take the design, photocopy or scan it and cut it out, then place it on the intended finger or against your neck to see if it is the right size. However, if you do this, you should always use the jeweller who designed it to make it, rather than taking the design to another jeweller.

Spessertine Garnets

Keeping memories alive

Jewellery inherited from loved ones or handed down from previous generations is precious and may simply be in need of a new lease of life. A simple alteration or re-design around the original stones or metal will retain any sentimental value while creating a piece that suits your style.

Having made a beautiful new piece of jewellery don’t forget to make a note of its significance and provenance. A handwritten note in your jewellery box will ensure that generations to come will know that, for example, your pendant features diamonds from Granny’s engagement ring . That way the memories and the significance of the stones live on.

inherited and recycled diamonds

Gemstone specialists GF Williams supplies a huge range of high quality coloured gemstones and is an expert and experienced gemstone supplier to designers, manufacturers, collectors and private clients.
Find out more about how GF Williams can fulfil your gemstone requirements by browsing our online gemstone catalogue or contacting our friendly team of gemstone experts on +44 (0) 207 405 5477 or email office@gfwilliams.co.uk.