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Give Yourself a Legacy Gift by Repurposing Meaningful Jewelry

By Kathleen M. Rehl December 11, 2020 Family

After my husband died, I continued to wear my diamond ring on my left hand for almost a year. Then I shifted it to the right hand where I wore it for many more months. I kept moving it back and forth – left hand for a few days, then right hand a day or two, and back again to the left.

In my grief, I was having a hard time accepting that my spouse was gone forever. After wearing my diamond on my left hand for almost 20 years, that ring finger felt naked and unnatural at first.

When I started dating again in my early 60s, I continued to wear my diamond for a while. But then one nice fellow asked if I was really ready to date. That ring was signaling to him that I wasn’t. So, I made the logical decision to just quit dating!

But not long afterward, I took off the ring permanently. I was ready to begin a new stage of my life. I know that many widows wear their wedding/engagement ring forever, which is the right choice for them. It’s a very personal decision that I deeply respect.

What to Do with My Ring?

My ring had been securely on my hand for many years, so it seemed strange at first to put it in my home safe, where it joined two other widowed women’s rings. I inherited both after my mother’s death. Daddy didn’t have much money when he and Mom married and could only afford a band with small diamond chips for his bride.

At mother’s passing, I also inherited another ring – my widowed grandmother’s solitaire that had been in Mom’s jewelry box for 27 years after she inherited it from her mother. I carefully placed all three rings in an ancient ring box, to be together in that dark safe. My diamond was in the center, symbolic of my mother’s and grandmother’s love that continued to surround and comfort me in my own widowhood.

In the Dark for Years

Those three rings kept each other company for many years in my home safe. I took them out occasionally to look at them and hold all three for a few minutes. What should I do with these precious rings that carried so much love and history?

It didn’t seem right to keep them locked up, away from the world for so long. But I couldn’t imagine an alternative. Then I had the idea of creating one new ring using the gemstones from all three. It would signify the new chapter in my own life as a widow and remind me of the rich heritage of two other widows I loved dearly.

I took my time and found a highly reputable jeweler who helped me translate my ideas into a design I loved. He was even able to use the gold from the three old bands to help pay for the setting of the new ring. I also used money inherited from Mom’s small retirement fund to pay the remaining cost to create this artistic piece. I knew Mom would be pleased with what I was doing.

But I couldn’t act on my decision for yet another year, still not quite ready to let go of the past. However, two years ago, I knew the time was right. That’s when the three rings came out of their dark hiding place forever, to become permanently joined in one elegant new ring.

Three Soaring Spirits Was Born

I named my new legacy ring “three soaring spirits.” For me, the piece symbolizes a rich heritage that will last for generations to come – connecting three strong widows and our journeys. The design has an upward energy flow that delights me.

I wear this ring joyfully when I meet with women’s groups and at professional conferences where I speak about personal reinvention and legacy activities for widows in transition. Many days I wear it as I work in my office, like I’m doing right now while I write this blog for Sixty and Me.

Easy Ways You Can Repurpose Old Jewelry

Many women have rings or other jewelry they’ve acquired over the years but haven’t worn for a long time. Like them, perhaps you own a ring you no longer wear or have acquired an heirloom piece that’s not really your style. Maybe you have a personal piece with sentimental value that you don’t want to discard or give away.

If you’re letting this jewelry gather dust in your drawer, consider repurposing it into a new creation you’ll love wearing. Here are three easy suggestions.

  • Repurpose a ring into a necklace by simply adding a chain to the ring.
  • Shorten a gold necklace to make a bracelet.
  • With a jeweler’s help, shape one smaller plain band into a heart shape. Then solder the heart into the center of a larger plain ring. Combine this with a chain for a necklace or a pin to wear near your own heart.

If you use a Google search phrase like “old jewelry into new,” you will see images for many more inspiring ideas. Also, see ideas on Pinterest.

Do you have jewelry that you’ve repurposed to make a new creation? Or, have you thought about recycling some older piece you want to keep? What is most important to you in creating something new from your existing pieces? We look forward to hearing your ideas in the comments.

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The Author

Kathleen M. Rehl, Ph.D., CFP®, wrote the award-winning book, Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows. She owned Rehl Financial Advisors for 18 years before an encore career empowering widows. Now “reFired,” Rehl writes legacy stories and assists nonprofits. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s, CNBC, and more. She’s adjunct faculty at The American College of Financial Services.

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