March 21, 2012 in Features

Old jewels don’t sparkle for brides

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I own a small family jewelry store. On occasion, a young lady will come in with an heirloom engagement ring that her fiance has given her.

While my husband and I absolutely adore the young ladies who gush about the sentiment of receiving Grandma’s ring, we have a difficult time handling those who roll their eyes at the pathetic diamond and outdated setting.

Many times, we will suggest that since the ring is not something they will get joy out of wearing, that perhaps we can melt down the setting and use Grandma’s diamonds to make a stunning little pendant to keep the sentiment alive.

I know my place is merely to help this couple get what the young lady wants. But I find this very difficult, as I see it as a lack of respect toward her betrothed and a rejection of his family history.

I suspect that Miss Manners might support me in my thinking, and I am not looking for any sort of permission to respond in such a way that would be rude. But how might I sway these young women toward rethinking getting rid of Grandma’s ring?

GENTLE READER: Your instinct sounds like the more humane course, but Miss Manners understands that you cannot voice that. She would be tempted to exclaim, “Oh, you can’t mean that! This is a lovely treasure from a family you are about to join.”

Well, maybe not. But as a jeweler, you could point out that styles change, and old ones that are scorned often come back into vogue; that once destroyed, something with such family sentiment cannot be replaced. And if that means getting an engagement ring that is less expensive than the lady has suggested – well, since sentiment is not a factor, they could trade up when they can afford it.

Whatever her response, you will have done your best to illuminate her attitude for her betrothed.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,, or via email to dearmissmanners@

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