How to Approach the Intimate—And Emotional—Process of Redesigning an Engagement Ring

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While Victoria Beckham is rumored to own as many as 15 engagement rings, most of us consider ourselves lucky if we own just one. This year marks 20 years since my husband and I got engaged. Three children and one broken ring finger later, I haven’t been able to squeeze on the ring we designed together all those years ago since lockdown.

Cut to a recent dinner at the magnificent Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London, and I spotted jeweler Rachel Boston’s ring from across the crowded, candlelit room. Like the magpie that I am, I immediately made a beeline for this apogee of sparkle, and discovered a central white diamond surrounded by a perfect halo of calibrated salt and pepper grey diamonds that refracted light like a glittering hall of mirrors.

Not long after, I sat down to persuade my beloved that redesigning our original ring was not junking old for new, but a chance to renew our commitment with a ring that celebrates the past and the future—and make it something its owner can actually wear as opposed to sitting forgotten and unworn in a jewelry box.

It turns out I am not alone. Shoreditch-based Boston, who specializes in bridal jewelry, says more couples than ever before are coming to her to follow in the footsteps of the likes of the Duchess of Sussex and Jackie Kennedy, by having their engagement ring redesigned. “A lot of the remodeling jobs we’ve done are to celebrate 10 or 20-year wedding anniversaries,” she says. “It is a great opportunity to explore a change of style if desired, although this very much comes down to personal preference: some remodels are an upgrade of the existing design, and some are more complete transformations.”

Given that many of us get married early on in our careers, a bigger budget is also possible further down the line, she says. That was certainly true in our case. Our 2005 wedding had been organized on a shoestring budget, and this time I wanted something that combined the essence of the original design with just a touch more bling.

Rachel Garrahan’s original engagement ring. She chose to redesign it to mark her 20th wedding anniversary.

Rachel’s ring after it was redesigned with Rachel Boston to add “a little more drama”.

In our first consultation, Boston sat me down and asked what I loved about the original. For me, its central brilliant-cut white diamond was non-negotiable, as were its mixed metals of gold and platinum. I also wanted to be able to retain a bezel design that allowed for my original wedding band (which Boston was able to resize and polish to appear like new) to sit snugly beneath the diamond and directly next to the band of my engagement ring.

What I wanted to add was a little more drama. Boston came back with a number of sketches featuring different interpretations of my brief. In truth, I could have gone for any of them, but immediately my heart was set on her rethink of the halo design I had fallen in love with at Goldsmiths’ Hall. The difference here was that the central diamond and its halo of greys were offset on a wide gold band rather than a narrow platinum one. The added good news about the salt and pepper diamonds is that their inclusions (the flecks of color within the stone) not only give them a subtle, unique beauty, but mean they are available at a lower price point than so-called flawless gems.

When she became engaged, Sarah Witvoet, a marketing executive in London, fell in love with the designs on Lia Lam’s Instagram and approached the jeweler with a very special commission. She wanted to incorporate the diamond from her mother-in-law’s engagement ring into her own. The diamond in question was particularly sentimental, as her fiancé had lost his mother when he was just 10 years old. “The stone means a lot to me as I truly value family, and my husband does not open up much on the topic,” she says. “Carrying it with me every day makes me feel like I met her, and remodeling this gorgeous diamond into a new ring gives it a second life, and is something that I will proudly pass on to our daughter.”

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Jose Reber

Jose Reber is a professional writer based in Wisconsin. He guides editorial teams consisting of writers across the US to help them become more skilled and diverse writers. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

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