How to Give an Heirloom Diamond Ring

So you have grandma's heirloom ring, and its gorgeous.  Or -- her stone is gorgeous, but SO not your future fiancée's style.  Or -- you have a whole bunch of heirloom jewelry, so you've got the goods, but you're just hoping it can all come together into something beautiful your special someone will love.  

Regardless of your heirloom-jewelry situation, there are some clearly defined Do's and Don'ts that you'll want to keep in mind if you're considering giving an heirloom ring or diamond to your future fiancée.  Keep reading to learn everything you need to consider.


The Do's...

  • DO consider the sentimental impact of using your heirloom stones and/or gold -- to you, your family or families, and the recipient.
  • DO find out how your significant other feels about heirloom stones and jewelry.  
  • DO have your jewelry and/or stones looked at by a reputable jeweler you trust so that the diamond(s) and metalwork can be evaluated, the piece(s) can be cleaned, and any damage or need for repairs assessed. 
  • DO ask around to helpful friends or family members to find out if your heirloom is a good fit for your significant other - in stone shape, type, and/or ring style.  Maybe the diamond is usable if reset into a more contemporary style -- or maybe there's a special part of the ring you should try to incorporate.  DO also ask basic questions -- is it the right color gold? Is the stone a shape she'll like? 
  • DO consider the possibility of giving an heirloom as a temporary ring (if it's in wearable condition) and letting your fiancée decide how to remake or re-design it, if you are afraid you won't pick the right thing.  
  • DO have the ring re-sized.  If a ring is too big, you risk losing it, and too small, she won't even be able to get it on when she says 'yes!'
  • DO let family know you're ready for the ring in person -- this is NOT the time or place for a quick text.  DO also listen to all of the stories that come with the ring, and commit them to memory.  You'll want to share them later and keep them close, adding your own along the way.
  • DO consider appraising an heirloom ring (or stone in new ring after a redesign is complete).

The Dont's...

  • DON'T get too attached to any gold or heirloom ring 'as-is'.  It's unlikely a ring that has been well-loved for a generation or more is without need of some kind of repair, refurbish, or re-make.  
  • DON'T give an heirloom ring without first having it professionally inspected for damage or repair.  You may risk losing diamonds -- an expensive and irreplaceable mistake!
  • DON'T write off a mis-shapen or damaged diamond if it's large.  It is possible in some circumstances to have a damaged diamond re-cut, or a large stone to be re-cut for more brilliance or sparkle.  Shape changes, however, are difficult (and may waste too much material).  
  • DON'T just assume a ring is coming -- even if you've heard it might be or suspect it.  Bring up an imminent proposal and feel free to leave any ring details open ended, but never go into a conversation expecting someone will just hand over a ring. It's a major, loaded, and highly personal and sentimental decision.  It may take some thought or family discussion before a ring changes hands-- so it's wise to bring your plans up early and casually if you're thinking there's a family ring that might be offered.  If you MUST acknowledge an heirloom that hasn't been offered because your significant other is 100% set on it, explain the personal significance and why you (or she) hve your heart set on giving this ring or stone.
  • DON'T change an heirloom without first running the idea of a redesign past the family members who gave you the heirloom.  Ask, for example, if they would be open to you resetting the ring if you want or if it is beyond repair, or modifying it to better fit your future fiancée's style.  It's crucial that you get permission, in order to avoid any drama that may come with an unexpected change.  Grandma might be moved to tears when she finds out you want your future wife to wear her ring, but don't send her to an early grave by doing a complete overhaul on it without asking her first.  Changes or lack thereof are often times (perhaps unspoken) conditions of accepting a ring at all.