I Designed My Own Engagement Ring (Using Jewelry I Already Had)

My beloved circa 2006 Las Vegas pawn shop ring

I love my engagement ring. It’s one of my the very few things, including children and dogs (and, okay, Kendrick, but only on a good day) I would save from a house fire. (Sidenote: A few weeks ago, it seemingly vanished into the ether. I’m stopping myself from panicking with the assumption that it was taken off of my nightstand by one of my kids, and will turn up eventually in some completely unexpected and bizarre location, like what happened this other time I lost some very special jewelry.)

Anyway. I love it. But I also…kind of always wanted a ring-ring. Is that obnoxious?? Not a solitaire, and not anything wildly expensive – just something that was exactly the style and color and design I envisioned. I also had this vague idea that I wanted to design something myself, but that seemed like an insanely pricey proposition, between buying the stones and working with a jeweler to create a custom piece. I mean, who does that?!

When I replaced the stones in my engagement ring with cognac diamonds a few months ago, the jeweler gave me a little plastic baggie containing the original mismatched white diamonds, and I sort of wondered aloud what I should do with them. “Why not make them into another piece of jewelry?” he said. And that’s when it occurred to me: If I wanted to make my own dream ring, I already had most of what I’d need.

designing an engagement ring from jewelry you already own

So I made my own ring – that one pictured up there.

And now it’s officially the most beautiful thing I own.

Here’s How I Did It (For A Price You Won’t Believe)

  • I Looked For Stones I Already Had. First, I looked through my jewelry to figure out if there were any rings with especially beautiful or emotionally significant stones that might be suitable for repurposing. What I decided to do (with my mother’s express consent): melt down her own original engagement ring – which she’d given me many years ago, but which I’ve never really worn – so that the finished product would incorporate her dark-blue sapphire, white pave diamonds, and the gold from the band.
  • I Drew Up A Design I Loved. I’m a huuuuuuuge fan of Mociun’s asymmetrical rings, but I loved the idea of coming up with my own design even more, so I played around with similarly asymmetrical ideas that would work with what I had.
  • I Found A Great Jeweler. On the enthusiastic recommendation of a friend, I went to William Shephard Jewelers in Los Gatos, and explained to one of the owners, Jeff, what I wanted. As sweet as Jeff was, I could tell that he definitely thought I was nuts. “So…wait,” he said. “…You don’t want…any symmetry?” To his enormous credit, he worked with me anyway, and spent the next two months (!) sourcing the perfect stones to round out what I had (a dark-blue sapphire, two white diamonds, and a bunch of pave diamonds).We decided on a large, pale blue sapphire for the center stone for two reasons: 1) Sapphires are extremely sturdy and hard to scratch, and 2) They’re less popular when they’re pale blue, making them much less expensive (Jeff was also able to source from a former dealer who had a huge cache of sapphires that he wasn’t actively selling, and ended up finding me an almost 2-carat stone for two hundred and fifty dollars). I also knew I wanted a black diamond somewhere in there, as well as a tiny black diamond on the band. (Did you know black diamonds are super cheap – as diamonds go – because nobody wants them? True story.)
  • I Resisted My Tendency To Get Things Done Quickly. This was hard. I tend to say “Eh, good enough” more often than I should, because I want what I want when I want it, and usually I want it yesterday. But this ring felt too special to rushThe design process took awhile because Jeff is an old-school jeweler in the very best way, and encouraged me to take my time playing around with stones and concepts until we found the right balance. And this part was SO COOL: Once we had what we thought was the final design, Jeff actually carved the ring and setting out of wax and placed the stones in it so that I could put it on and see exactly how it would look before he went ahead and started crafting it. (I did end up making one last small change once I saw the wax mockup – I eliminated a stone that would have made it feel too wide and bulky on my finger – so this step was totally worth it.

designing an engagement ring from jewelry you already own

Then Jeff (who, just FYI, did not give me any special discounts that I was aware of or know that I’d be writing about this process) did whatever magic jewelers do, and the end result was exactly – like, exactly – the ring I’d pictured head, right down to the off-kilter-but-still-balanced settings, and the sturdy prongs that won’t catch on my clothing (or, you know, parts of my children).

I’m going to put the price after the jump, because you are not going to believe it.

All told – including the stones that I purchased (a sapphire, a black diamond, and a tiny black pave diamond for the band) and the labor – this ring cost $1500.


For a custom-made engagement (or, OK, “engagement”) ring with over 3 carats of precious stones.

The only problem: I now know that my children are ring-stealers, and can never, ever remove it from my finger for the rest of my life. (I’m okay with that.)

asymmetrical engagement ring made with sapphires and black diamonds


Some similarly offbeat (and ready-made) ideas are below.

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