January 03 2021 – Mike Yarbrough
Vintage engagement rings are special. Unique in appearance and rich in history, vintage rings are—often literally—one of a kind. And if that ring has been in your family for generations, it can be even more special.
For many, the tradition of passing down wedding or engagement rings is a valued way to continue the story of one's family history. There are some important considerations that come with passing down wedding rings, so be sure to think carefully about your choice before making your final decision.
Reasons for Passing Down Wedding Rings
While each couple will have their own reasons for following the tradition of passing down a wedding ring, for most, it has to do with carrying on a part of their family history. By passing on a wedding ring that has been in your family for generations, it enhances the feeling that the new family you're starting is a part of that tradition and heritage. It's a way to honor and form a connection with your ancestors, linking them to your future family.
There are other reasons too. Passing on an heirloom family ring is certainly a more budget-friendly choice than purchasing a ring. In fact, wedding rings throughout history have been kept in the family because they were among the few valuable things many families owned.
Types of Heirloom Rings
Any ring can become an heirloom. Most often, rings are passed directly from parents to their children, but that doesn't have to be the case. A family wedding ring could be passed down from an aunt, a grandparent, a cousin—it doesn't have to be an immediate family member, and it can come from either side of the family.
It doesn't have to be a traditional wedding ring either. Oftentimes, all sorts of heirloom rings, including vintage promise rings, claddagh rings and birthstone rings, are passed down as wedding rings.
Etiquette for Passing Down Wedding Rings
There are a few things to consider when it comes to passing down wedding rings. Be sure to talk with your future spouse, his/her family and your own family to understand everyone's expectations.
Find Out How Your Fiancé(e) Feels
If you want to use a family ring, step one is to find out how your fiancé(e) feels about it. Of course, this isn't really possible if you're trying to surprise your fiancé(e)-to-be with a family engagement ring, but wedding bands are another story.
Passing down a family ring is something you both should want, especially if it's the ring from your family you want to use. Your fiancé(e) may have a family ring of his/her own, and might feel more attached to it than yours.
Talk to Family
Make sure whoever currently has ownership of the ring is onboard with your plan. Depending on the situation, there may be some other parties to ask as well, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles. Have face-to-face conversations with the relevant family members.
Set Expectations for Ring Modifications
Your family might be open to making alterations to an heirloom ring, but they also might not. In some cases, the ring could be seen as too sacred to alter. Make sure it won't ruffle any feathers if you have the ring reset, upgraded or changed in any way. Some choose to simply take the stone out and have that set into a band of their choosing, especially when the ring in question is either a different type of gold than you prefer, or it has too big of a size difference to be resized.
Get the Full Story
You should know what the ring means to your family, and why. Ask your parents and, if possible, your grandparents to tell their stories about the ring. Not only will this give you a closer connection to the ring, but it will allow you to pass those same stories on to your future children (one day).
Clean, Resize, Appraise, and Insure
Have the ring looked at by a professional. Resize it if necessary, and have them clean and appraise the ring. They can also inspect the settings to make sure they're secure, and check to see if any other repairs need to be made.
Starting a New Tradition
Not everyone has an established family tradition of passing down wedding rings. There may not be a ring in your or your future spouse’s family that you want to wear and pass down, but that's okay.
The tradition can start with you! Your wedding rings can be passed on to your children, and they can pass them on again when they have children of their own.
Whether you choose traditional diamond wedding rings, vintage rings or unique rings made from non-traditional materials, you have an opportunity to begin your own tradition that reflects your values and allows you to continue your story for generations to come. Take our ring style quiz to find out which of our ring collections is best for you (and could eventually passed down through your family)!