Lots of people ask us about the options for old jewellery. It’s amazing how many of us have some languishing in a drawer at home.
Maybe it’s inherited, worth a lot of money, or simply a sentimental reminder of a loved one. But it’s there, not being worn, and unless you’re taking it out regularly and looking at it, it’s probably not bringing you much joy where it is.
You then have three options - sell it, remodel it, or put it back in the jewellery box to collect dust for another few years.
Here’s some information to help you decide what to do.
firstly, Get Your Jewellery Valued
We suggest that you arrange for your jewellery to be valued first. Most reputable jewellers will be able to have this done for you, but make sure they use an independent valuer.
We offer a valuation service here at Burrells. We use an independent valuer called The Guild of Valuers & Jewellers. You can find out more about it by contacting us here. After you've had your jewellery valued, you'll then need to decide if you want to sell it.
should i sell my second-hand jewellery?
It’s generally true that for most items, a second-hand jewellery dealer will pay only for the weight of the gold or other metal.
Larger diamonds or precious stones may bump the price up a little, but unless it’s an exceptional piece, you’re unlikely to see much consideration given to the quality of the workmanship, design or quantity of smaller gemstones.
Generally speaking, you’re likely to be disappointed with how much you are offered. For more advice on selling second-hand jewellery, we've found this helpful article on lifehacker.com.
If you don’t want to sell your item, read on.
Remodelling Your old Jewellery
A piece of jewellery that has been inherited from a family member or someone close to us often carries a huge amount of sentimental value. However, the style of the piece might not be quite to your personal taste.
This is where re-modelling comes in – you can alter the item slightly to suit your style, while still retaining the sentimental value.
People also remodel jewellery that they’ve had for years and wish to modernise and bring up to date. They might favour a new metal type, or there might be a new design/setting that’s more popular nowadays.
How Much does it Cost to Remodel Your old Jewellery?
Let’s get straight to the main point - how much does jewellery remodelling actually cost?
The minimum you should expect to pay for having a ring remodelled is around £650 for 18ct gold and £850 for platinum.
This would be for the straightforward resetting of a single diamond into a new ring mount in a different style. You might be given some money back for the scrap value of the gold in the original setting if you were happy for it not to be used in your new ring.
Items such as earrings and pendants would cost less to remake due to a smaller amount of metal needed to create the piece.
The costs involved increase as more of the goldsmith’s time is required - design work, as well as the actual crafting, will be charged by the hour. Any meetings you have with the goldsmith to discuss the work will also be factored in. Having said that, you should be given a quote after your initial meeting.
In our experience, most bespoke jobs involving newly designed custom mounts will cost from £500 upwards, depending on the complexity and the type and weight of metal required.
Remember that you are paying for a skilled craft person's time, so complicated designs will be more expensive. A good goldsmith will be able to advise you on how to get exactly what you want, including keeping cost down if that’s a priority.
Bespoke service comes with a cost, but it is worth remembering that you will end up with something that is 1. uniquely personal, 2. suits you, 3. worth at least as much as the original piece (and likely more).
To clarify, here are a couple of scenarios to think about:
Sarah is left her mother’s engagement ring. It’s a high-quality piece but just not her style, and she never wears it. She gets it professionally valued. It is worth £2k. She doesn’t want it to be stuck in her jewellery box so….
A. She sells it to a second-hand dealer who gives her £500 for it. She uses the money to buy a smaller ring in a design she prefers and wears it every day to remember her mum.
B. She takes the ring to be remodelled. She pays £500 for the goldsmith’s design work. She ends up with a ring which is still worth £2k when she gets it valued but which she can wear.
As with so many things in life, you get what you pay for. In example B, Sarah had to pay £500 to have her ring remade, whereas in example A she is not out of pocket at all. But in B she ended up with something of equal monetary value, and immeasurable sentimental value.
Tips for Remodelling Jewellery
Here are a few more hints and tips to help you if remodelling existing jewellery is something you’re considering:
• It’s sometimes easier and cheaper to use new gold, especially if your existing item is white gold. This is because of changes in the alloy when the gold is melted down and reused.
• Some gemstones are riskier than others to work with, and there is always a slight chance of breakages. Emeralds, for instance, can be brittle, and opals react badly to heat.
• Try and get some example pictures of what you would like to end up with - it will help the goldsmith to get inside your head.
• Realise that remaking jewellery is not always a cheaper option than buying something new.
In conclusion - the main barrier to having existing jewellery remade is cost.
Bespoke commissions are an expensive business, and the fact that you own the original piece/diamonds often makes less difference to the end cost that you might expect. But it costs nothing to ask, to have a chat with the goldsmith, and get a quote.
You can get in touch with Sarel Du Plessis, head goldsmith at Burrells, by emailing email@example.com.