My cousin recently asked my mother if there were any legacy rings in our family. She told him that there weren't any diamond engagement rings that she knew of but that there was a ring of her grandmother's, set with diamonds and emeralds, that we are in the process of splitting up, so that all the women in my family can have a piece of jewelry with a few gems from it, and offered him some of the gems. Even this ring (which we are splitting up mostly because it is huge and gaudy and ugly) is not an engagement ring. The only thing close to that is a plain gold wedding band of my great great grandmother's. It's currently in the possession of my great aunt, and she's chosen me to inherit it after her death.
Marie Claire (which is, for the record, my favorite magazine ever) just ran a short piece under the headline "Love the Guy, Hate the Ring: His mother's sapphire? What was Prince William Thinking?" I silently replied that he was thinking how gorgeous the ring was and how happy Kate would be to have it.
The ring in question:
Prince William and Kate Middleton:
In this particular situation, I feel that William made the right choice (mostly because the ring in question is undeniably gorgeous), but I can see how a hand-me-down ring isn't always the best idea. In Marie Claire, a few women spoke about being offered gaudy rings with bulky settings and feeling that they couldn't turn them down. It's a hard situation to find yourself in, since being offered a family ring is such a great honor. Even though I'm not big on gold, I will wear my great great grandmother's ring proudly, but that's easy for me to say since it's not my engagement ring. If I were offered some gold band to sub for a nice cushion-cut diamond of my own in a platinum setting, I can't say I'd be overjoyed.
I guess that the best thing to do is to hope that your fiancé knows your taste well enough to refrain from offering you a pear-shaped diamond with a gold band. And if he does, maybe you can at least incorporate the stone in a new setting that suits your more.
And hey, you might get lucky like my friend Leah did and fall in love with a man whose grandmother's ring happens to suit your style perfectly. She just got engaged on Christmas Eve, and her fiancé gave her this gorgeous ring that looks like a snowflake and reminds me of the medieval-looking celtic-knot rings she usually wears.