Custom Jewelry

New Life for Old Jewels: How to Reset and Repurpose Your Jewelry

New Life for Old Jewels: How to Reset and Repurpose Your Jewelry - Jewelsmith

Guide to giving your unworn jewelry a makeover

So, you're looking through your jewelry box and there in the bottom is a tangle of broken, outdated jewelry.

There are old broken chains hopelessly knotted together. The charm bracelet you got for your 16th birthday. Those hoop earrings you bought with your first paycheck, now dented. Aww, and then there's your special Nana's favorite ring that's too worn to wear. 


What can you do with broken, inherited or outdated jewelry?

Short answer? Almost anything!

Gold and other precious metals are endlessly recyclable and can be made into new jewelry over and over.

Diamonds and gemstones can usually be reset into updated jewelry designs that are personalized just for you and your unique story. 

A talented designer will help you realize your vision. They ask about your personal style, what your lifestyle is like and your goals for the project. They will pull everything together to create a physical representation of your unique story.

Designer Tiffany Landers designing a custom project for a client

Recycle gold into any color and karat of gold to make into new jewelry:

Many custom jewelry stores offer to reuse or melt your old jewelry and coins and craft it into a new design. This is a great way to save money since you won't have to buy the metal for your new piece of jewelry.

Here coins were melted and then formed into cuff bracelets:

gold coins transformed into cuff bracelets

This direct method has some limitations though. You're stuck with the color of the existing alloy. The alloy is the mixture of precious metal such as gold with other metals to create different colors or levels of purity known as karat. Our article about white gold allergies has a more comprehensive explanation of karats and colors of gold.  

For instance, if you have 14K yellow gold wedding bands, you can only make yellow gold with it.

Note: You can add 24K and create a higher karat or add more alloy and lower the karat.

At Jewelsmith we can use the metal directly and we can take this basic concept one step further. We offer a service called "Same Molecule Refining" that allows you to turn your own gold into 24K. We can turn that pure gold into any karat or color of gold!

Yellow gold can be transformed into white gold like the center section of this pendant. Wedding bands can be incorporated directly into the design as well:

Yellow gold transformed into white gold and wedding band incorporated into design

FYI: Refining is the process of separating the pure metal from the alloy. Traditional refining mixes batches of metal from individual jewelry stores into one huge lot. Then they send each jeweler back the equivalent weight in pure gold, for example, of the batch they sent.

This method is great as long as the gold itself is not sentimental. In other words, you aren't likely to get back the same gold that you sent.

With "Same Molecule Refining" you get back only your original gold.

The actual pure gold from your grandfather's 14K white gold wedding band comes back to you. That sentimental and pure gold can then be made into yellow gold, rose gold or any other color. It can also be made into 18K, 22K or any karat. Contact our design team to find out more.


Reset gemstones and diamonds into new settings:

Diamonds and gemstones can often be reset into new handcrafted custom design. Maybe the existing setting is worn out, doesn't fit your vibe or you're just ready for a change. 

Your local jeweler can carefully remove them from the old settings. Then a designer will confer with you and the creative magic begins. 

The custom design process should involve lots of input from you. And you should expect expert guidance from the design team. When there are gems involved, input from a gemologist is also key. Your jewelry makeover should be a fun and meaningful experience, one that sees your vision come to life.

Diamonds from an old wedding set and a pendant reset into a fun and unique ring setting:

diamonds from an old wedding set and pendant combined into one unique ring

Knowledgeable, experienced gemologists will advise you about how well your diamonds and gemstones will set and advise you of any risks. They can also determine if a chipped or scratched diamond or gemstone can be repaired.

Pro tip: Find a local custom jewelry store near you that has a GIA Graduate Gemologist on staff. Even better, one that is also an AGS Certified Gemologist Appraiser. Bonus points if they have an AGS accredited gem lab on site. (GIA-Gemological Institute of America, AGS-American Gem Society) Jewelsmith maintains all of these credentials and serves Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, surrounding areas as well as anywhere in the USA.

Maybe you want to create a bracelet using diamonds from a special person's jewelry. You can also incorporate a piece from their favorite brooch.

slide pendants, a charm and a brooch repurposed into a bracelet


You can have a pendant that symbolizes your newfound freedom repurposing the diamond from your old engagement ring:

Engagement ring reset into stunning pendant


Maybe your family passed down an heirloom engagement ring that's too worn to wear or doesn't fit your intended's style: 

Marquise diamond in nugget ring transformed into sleek bezel set ring



Combine heirloom jewelry into a personalized piece to keep memories of loved ones close.

The heirloom wedding rings that your grandparents passed down to you can be combined into one beautiful tribute pendant.

Wedding bands can often be used just as they are. In this example, all the bands were used. The two larger bands form the outer circles. The thinner ones form the arches and bail (the part the chain passes through.) 

before and after of wedding rings combined into pendant


Here's another great example of sentimental wedding rings directly incorporated into a design:

wedding rings incorporated into pendant design



Repurpose existing jewelry that no longer fits your style and/or lifestyle into a fresh new look:

Sometimes after wearing a piece of jewelry for a long time, you just want to change things up. You may have a different occupation or hobbies that affect your jewelry choices. Or over time your personal style has evolved.

If you work in healthcare or a lab and always wear gloves, you may prefer a bezel setting over prong settings. Bezels are smoother and would be more practical for your daily activities.

Rings updated to fresh new style


We all love our basics like diamond and pearl studs. Sometimes you just aren't feeling basic and want earrings that make a statement: 

 Pearl and diamond studs transformed into super cool statement earrings


Trade it toward a purchase or get cash:

If the jewelry doesn't have sentimental value, you can trade it in for credit. This credit can be used towards buying new jewelry, getting jewelry repaired, or creating a custom jewelry piece. Or you can get a cash or check payout for the value. Often you can get a higher price per weight for credit vs cash/check. 

Pro tip: Save all the small pieces of metal you get when resizing a ring or changing a clasp. Never throw away precious metals! Reduce Reuse Recycle

FYI: The value of your jewelry is based on market prices and only applies to the pure gold, platinum or silver. It does not include the labor it took to make the jewelry or premiums demanded by big name designer brands. Also, what you will get is a percentage of the pure precious metals. That's because the refining companies charge fees and percentages for their work.


Summing it up:

You have plenty of options when it comes to all that jewelry you've been hanging onto. Jewelry is meant to be worn and loved. If you have some that isn't here are some options:

  • Take it to your favorite local jeweler and have something fabulous made that you will treasure forever.
  • Reset your gemstones and diamonds into new exciting pieces of jewelry.
  • Use your precious metal either directly, or have your gold transformed into any color or karat that you wish. 
  • Recycle your precious metals and get cash or credit toward that special piece you've had your eye on.
  • Find inspiration for your jewelry restyling in our before and after gallery.
  • Have fun and express your individuality with customized jewelry created by hand just for you!


About the author:

 Molly Hollingsworth

Molly Hollingsworth Bio

Molly Hollingsworth is a professional goldsmith with a BFA and more than 27 years experience


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