Is It a Good Idea to Propose With an Heirloom (or Secondhand) Ring?

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Should You Propose with an Heirloom Ring?Getty Images

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When you know you’ve found The One and are ready to get engaged, popping the question can be nerve-wracking, and understandably so. Not only do you want to say all the right things, but you also want to present them with the ring of their dreams.

If your partner’s style is more aligned with an eclectic, vintage aesthetic than with contemporary diamond jewelry, you might consider proposing them with an heirloom ring instead.

Given everything it represents, proposing with an heirloom ring that’s been passed down from generation to generation can be a very meaningful gesture. But whether or not you should proposing with an heirloom ring will ultimately depend on how your family — and partner — feel about it. Here’s what the experts say to consider.

Why you should propose with an heirloom ring

Beyond their sentimentality, heirloom rings are a unique, one-of-a-kind option for an engagement ring. If you are lucky enough to have such a ring in your family, it’s a beautiful thing to have, it is also a symbol of your love. Not to mention, opting to propose with an heirloom ring is a far more sustainable (and cost-effective) alternative to buying a brand-new one.

If proposing a family ring isn’t an option for you, you can find a similar style by visiting vintage boutiques in your area.

“You can even shop secondhand to find heirlooms from other families, to find one-of-a-kind pieces that may be vintage or antique styles,” says Carmen Lopez, retail expert and founder of designer and vintage secondhand shop Current Boutique. “From there, you can create a new tradition of heirlooms with a secondhand piece.”

How to propose with an heirloom ring

Before your proposal, Lopez strongly recommends getting the heirloom ring cleaned and examined to ensure that all stones and stylistic details are still intact or can be refurbished. You’ll also want to get an heirloom ring appraised like you would any other engagement ring, which ensures the jewelry is protected.

As you’re planning to pop the question, Lopez suggests providing the ring’s full background story in your proposal. This will emphasize the significance of the ring to your loved one, and you’ll be able to share it with their extended family later on.

When shouldn’t you propose with an heirloom ring?

“When proposing with an heirloom ring, it’s good to talk about it with your family first,” says Ken Shao, the marketing manager at Cadis Jewelry. “They might have some thoughts or feelings about the ring being passed on to a new person, or the ring could have bad memories attached [to it].”

Family members might also have stipulations about preserving the ring’s original style. In that case, you might consider getting a vintage-style engagement ring that has a similar aesthetic to your heirloom but none of the family ties.

Of course, your partner’s feelings on the subject should definitely be taken into consideration. Not everyone feels comfortable accepting a family heirloom as their engagement ring, and that’s OK. You also want to make sure the ring in question aligns with their taste in jewelry before all else.

Can you get an heirloom ring resized?

If you’re proposing with an heirloom ring, keep in mind that size matters. According to Shao, not all heirloom rings can be resized. This could be due to the design of the ring, the type of metal it’s made of, or its delicate condition.

“In such cases, the jeweler might suggest other options, like using a ring size adjuster, to ensure the ring fits well without damaging it,” says Shao.

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