Almost everyone has a piece of jewelry they never wear because it’s outdated, or just miles away from their personal style. Oftentimes it’s an heirloom piece with sentimental value, or it incorporates an important stone that’s otherwise worthy of seeing the light of day.
Smart retailers and designers have picked up on this, hosting “restyle events” at their store or studio, or broadcasting the story of a great custom conversion on Instagram.
If this is a service you offer, find a way to let clients know about it. Many regard January as a time to purge themselves of excessive clutter and just generally press the reset button in pursuit of a fresh start. Who wouldn’t want to breathe new life into Granny’s Ceylon sapphire? And if you’re investing in a family tradition, that’s money you can feel good about spending.
The makeover angle is also one to work ahead of Valentine’s Day. Because there’s something quite romantic about gifting a loved one with a refurbished heirloom design, one where the presentation has been revamped but the emotional elements remain intact.
Below, three before-and-after stories as told by the designers.
At Ruth Tomlinson, London
The client came to the Ruth Tomlinson studio with a number of family heirlooms from aunts and grandmothers, great uncles, second cousins, and more. “No longer content with just looking at them on the odd occasion before storing them away, she wanted to make use of them and have them transformed into jewels that she can wear and enjoy,” says Tomlinson. It was important to the client that the new piece (well, ultimately pieces) fit her lifestyle and her personality while retaining a sense of history and sentimental value.
Knowing that Tomlinson delights in making modern creations from antique stones, especially when the gems have a family history, the client worked closely with the designer to reimagine her family treasures. “She’s chosen to pursue the project in steps, starting with a beautiful sapphire and old cut diamond ring,” says Tomlinson (the end result is pictured above). “Next will be a bracelet and then a pendant to follow.”
Although most of the stones used belong to their client, Tomlinson and her team do occasionally add stones from their own collection to deliver the desired look. “Our selection of materials is always in keeping with the heirlooms, selecting old cut stones in similar hues to complement them.”
At L. Priori, Philadelphia
“The ring, which had belonged to my client’s late father, was very much not her style,” says Philadelphia-based jeweler Lauren Priori of L. Priori. “But she loved the stone and the idea of honoring her father through a piece of jewelry she wore each day.”
Priori and her team designed a modern east-west setting for the synthetic 1950s ruby, swapping the 10k rose gold for 14k yellow gold and adding diamonds. “She wanted to eventually pass the ring down to her daughter, whom she texts ‘xo’ to every day, so I incorporated that sweet message at the bottom of the shank,” says Priori.
At Lindsey Scoggins, NYC
“A repeat client contacted me for a 10th-anniversary gift and we didn’t have enough time to make something custom,” says Scoggins. “I suggested a box of gems for use in a custom design of his wife’s choosing so he could still give her something to unwrap.”
The twinkling little stash included 10 stones to commemorate the couple’s 10 years of marriage—sapphires, rubies, emeralds, a green tourmaline, accent diamonds, and the client’s wife’s original 1.5-carat engagement ring diamond.
“I originally thought we could design a beautiful lariat necklace that could be wrapped in various ways, but my client’s wife decided she needed some long earrings for special events,” says Scoggins. The designer sketched a few different options for her to choose from; the winning combination, now finished in 18k white gold (and happily in the owner’s possession), is shown above.
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