Yet, women are reluctant to update, even if the rings clash with the jewelry they wear today. "But it's the one we made vows with", they say, as if an update would cancel the commitment. I see restyling as a renewal, not an erasure. And if you never tied the knot, read on; you might inherit someone else's rings.
My friend Nancy, a noted food stylist (click and you'll be drooling over more than her jewelry!) showed me her truly personal reno: four rings made from cherished vintage material, restyled with new silver and new and recycled gold.
She kept her original wedding band, and created a casually elegant selection of new rings by repurposing her engagement ring (a classic claw-set diamond that was once her husband Marvin's mother's), several rubies and an emerald Marv brought back from a trip to Thailand, and gold and a diamond from her mother's wedding jewelry.
From left to right: Nance's original wedding ring, now over 35 years old; the two rubies (originally set as earrings that she never really wore), and her ER diamond.
Here's the emerald, mixed in:
And the newest addition, below: her mother's diamond, shown between the rubies. Nance says, "I love that both mothers are with me."
She mixes and moves the rings at whim, the jewelry equivalent of the perfect wardrobe, where everything works together.
Her rings were made over several years by Toronto jeweler Willa Drummond. She chose silver for the band section of the ruby and diamond rings, and gold for the bezels, where strength and durability are essential. The result: a playful, modern mix that echoes Nance's vibrant style.
About commissioning work, Nance says: "Sometimes people feel obliged to like what the artist created, but there is no amount of consulting, drafting or illustrating that can guarantee complete happiness once the object becomes tangible. Our minds work differently and communication is the only way to get what you want."
The most recent, the square-bezel diamond, was begun last June and was on her finger in December. Ms. Drummond worked through several adjustments, noting that "the best results are found with patience and honest communication."
When "I do" becomes "I don't"
Since at least a third of the unions from the '80s did not endure, some women have ex-rings. If that's your situation, you could re-use the material, assuming you took a different route than my friend Lorri's sister, Janet, who hurled her Chaumet band into Venice's Grand Canal, shouting "Arrivederci, Jimmy!"
While stacking rings also suit the single life—just swap the wedding ring out—another option is to make one beautiful new ring. A design like Mallary Marks' French Horn ring provides a home for a diamond that originally perched in a classic Tiffany style. (You would add the small second diamond):
Nance is reno-ready for more than rings: "My next project is to redesign a pair of garnet earrings my mum gave me for my 19th birthday. We will be incorporating a tiny diamond as well as converting a stud to a hook that will hang, but not dangle, just below my lobe."
I'll ask if we can see those, too!