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  • Writer's pictureWedding Day Diamonds

From Heirloom to Custom

If you’ve ever been the recipient of less-than-wearable heirloom jewelry, this article is for you!

Heirloom jewelry should be a meaningful, thrilling gift.

After all, a gift of heirloom jewelry is often a gift of acceptance: it is someone’s way of telling you that she loves you, she approves of you, and maybe, she even views you as a continuation of herself.

Certainly she is wishing you a lifetime filled with happy occasions similar to her own… occasions on which you’ll wear the pieces she’s given you.

So what do you do if that heirloom piece, incredible though it may be, is also a piece that you would just never, ever wear?

Don’t let it sit grimy and tarnished, waiting to be bestowed upon yet another generation, and don’t even think of pawning it! A pawnshop will never give you what it’s worth, especially given the sentimental value of an antique, once-cherished piece of jewelry.

Do remember that the person who gave you that piece genuinely wanted you to enjoy it. From that perspective, you may feel more guilty letting it sit around than you would feel if you modified it into something you’d actually wear, especially considering that every time you wear it, you’ll be reminded of the person who gave it to you.

So instead of treating antique jewelry like a holy relic that never gets touched, bring your pieces to our custom shop where our experts are waiting to turn your heirloom trinkets into modern treasures… the sort you’ll actually be thrilled to wear.

Here’s what to expect when you work with one of our experts, and here are some of our favorite ways to bring amazing new life to your heirloom goods:

Firstly, our experts (we call them Client Advocates) will examine the pieces and make sure that what you have is a good candidate for resetting. They’ll look for chips, cracks, or other types of damage to the stones, and they will be upfront about whether the piece you have can be taken apart safely.

In some instances, especially if damage is present, resetting can actually harm the piece’s components. In instances like this, your client advocate will explain what can and can’t be done, what the risks are, and what they’d recommend instead.

Stones are durable, though, and so if the piece you were given was well cared for, the possibility of not being able to reset it is very slim.

Let’s say your Client Advocate determines your stones to be in good shape, and says your piece is a great candidate to reset… (The vast majority of pieces we come across are)… then what?

Let the fun begin!

Begin by thinking about what kind of jewelry you like to wear. Are you a necklace and earrings sort of gal, or do you just love to pile on the bracelets and rings? Think about what types of pieces you’ll realistically wear. Just because you were gifted a bracelet doesn’t mean the piece has to remain a bracelet…

Once you know what sort of piece you’d wear, consider whether there’s anything about the original design that you want to retain, or whether you want a complete do-over. If you want to retain certain elements, that will help direct the changes you do make.

If you are in the market for an engagement ring, start by considering whether any of your heirloom pieces could be incorporated into your ring’s design. Nothing adds more meaning and uniqueness to an engagement ring than ancestral stones.

Some examples of you can do include using smaller colored stones or diamonds to create dramatic tiers or halo effects for your center stone.

A pair of antique earrings can be split to create a classic three stone ring.

A diamond from a pendant necklace might be a fabulous candidate for a center stone.

In cases where heirloom stones are used as center stones, we will hand match other diamonds used in your ring to your center stone. It’s a painstaking process, but one that ensures the most flattering effect for your center stone, and our extra effort will bear you no additional cost.

And for him… diamonds from a delicate tennis bracelet, being uniform in size, can make a fabulous men’s band.

If you aren’t looking for an engagement ring, you have even more room to play.

How about using colored stones to create an extraordinary cocktail ring? You could make your new ring even more an homage to the person who gave it to you by choosing design elements relevant to her era. For help, check out our “Vintage by Era Guide.” Colored stones from pendant necklaces and earrings can easily be made into stunning rings.

Earrings, for that matter, can be used to create a beautiful focal point at the center of a bracelet.

Pins and broaches are a good candidate for this kind of transition, too!

This is an especially good solution if one of the earrings in the pair has been lost to time.

Don’t let the other one sit around. Repurpose it into a covetable, bracelet instead.

You could also take stones from a stray earring and create a gorgeous pendant necklace.

Diamonds from tennis bracelets can be separated into hundreds of different earring styles, from drops to solitaires.

A set of solitaire earrings for each of your own children or grandchildren is a special way to pay the gifted piece forward, and you’ll feel great knowing that your girls all have an equal share of their relative’s legacy.

Creating diamond earrings from a bracelet has another perk, as well. You can use these earring sets to commemorate a life event, such as for each girl’s sweet 16, or college graduation. It’s a nice way of making sure the ancestor is present and remembered on these big days, even if they are no longer there in person.

Whatever ideas you may have, it really is worth it to come in and speak to an expert. All the design work is done on CAD, (computer aided design), which means your original piece of jewelry will remain 100% intact and unaltered until you are 100% ready to make changes to it. There is no risk. The final piece will be as durable as any of our brand new jewelry (and backed with the same warranty, to prove it) and you will be amazed by the kinds of meaningful upgrades that can be done.

There is no reason for pieces that were once loved to be hunkering in some dark corner, unworn, in the back of your jewelry box.

Think of how amazing it will be when the piece is wearable again… when you are complemented on it and those compliments cause you to recall the amazing woman who gave it to you. That is what she wanted when she gave you her favorite pieces. That is what heirloom jewelry should do, and with a little custom work, it can.


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