A gift from a loved one is always welcome and cherished, particularly if it represents a significant moment or occasion. But over the past decade, the same women who are purchasing jewelry for themselves are open to breathing new life into pieces that have been gifted to them but unworn for years.
And isn’t spring the perfect time of year to renew and add some new romance into your relationship with your jewelry?
Why not take the opportunity to redesign the styles handed down by family members with both small and large diamonds if these pieces have been hiding in the dark recesses of your jewelry box? Or, start thinking about reimagining pieces with settings that remind you of your Great Aunt Tillie, more old hat than antique chic. Why leave them to collect dust? You will be updating outdated pieces and creating a custom design that you will be happy to wear now. They will be modern versions of heirloom which will keep the sentiment alive yet will allow you to integrate the piece into your current jewelry wardrobe. You can also do this with pieces gifted by an old flame or close friend that you have been keeping for posterity. Wouldn’t you rather meltdown or trade in the gold and apply it to a piece you collaborate on with contemporary designer whose work you admire?
Similarly, if you have the eye to spot the beauty of a diamond at a flea market in a worn-down piece that cannot be repaired, buy it before someone else does. These are the diamonds that are just ripe for redesign. And you will feel quite proud that you discovered such a treasure.
Here are a few suggestions to think about for re-designing your diamonds and the contemporary jewelers who will work closely with you to create the custom pieces that will allow you to fall in love again with the jewelry you haven’t touched in years.
What you design should depend on what you’ll get the most wear out of and also the quality and size of the diamond. Larger single stones that are, for example, D-H quality and VVSI or VSI are best for rings as you will want to continue to admire your diamond on your hand—which is really the only place you wear jewelry that you can see it yourself. You can work with all different shapes and cuts to create the look of a ring that you desire for your lifestyle.
It’s best to work with a jewelry designer whose sensibility you share and who does custom work for private clients. Karen Karch, an independent designer who owns her own jewelry store in NYC and is a go-to designer for bespoke pieces, particularly rings, explains, “Breathing new life in designs that just sit in a jewelry box or working with stones that have significance is always fulfilling for both the designer and the client. You are creating something based on your aesthetic but that expresses the client’s personality and something she will wear in her daily life. She will also be part of the process, making the piece all the more special!”
Sofia Kaman, Single Stone, Jade Trau,, Megan Thorne and Rebecca Overmann and Alex Fitz, to name just a few designers who work with clients on a one-on-one basis to help you modernize your diamonds. If your original engagement ring was a marquise or oval-shaped ring set vertically with high prongs in a chunky gold shank and it seems seriously dated, take it to your favorite designer or retailer who features designers that do custom and they will work wonders with what you own.
Neck in Neck
Additionally, if you inherited such a piece with a smaller diamond but in the same fussy style that you never wear, you can take the diamond out of the ring setting and it can be re-imagined into a totally different jewelry category. Any shape of a diamond can work for single solitaire necklaces which are jewelry staples in a woman’s wardrobe and if yours twinkles with sentiment, you can work with the designer to create a modern yet enduring setting. Or if your stone is an antique cut such as a rose, cushion, old mine or European, it can be fashioned into a present version of a past design.
What A Pair
Take your cue from the new pieces that are being designed at Fred Leighton. Although renowned for its period jewels and lending pieces to A-list celebrities, the in-house team of designers, spearheaded by Rebecca Selva, Chief Creative Officer, and PR director creates contemporary limited edition and one-of-a-kind pieces that draw inspiration from historical styles, a combination of old and new for a modern take on period designs.
The Fred Leighton Signature collection brings back to life the 18th-century cut-down collet settings for single drop and stud earrings. The antique pieces were set with a closed foiled back to hide the imperfections of the diamond cutting of the 1700s. Fred Leighton Signature versions are open in the back to allow the masterful current cushion and European cut diamonds to shine. You can inquire about settings rose cushion or mine cut diamonds you inherited or found and which will sparkle with the subdued character in antique settings.
Single Stone also creates earrings with rose cut, old mine, cushion and European cut diamonds. When the set them in 18K yellow gold into a modern bezel or hexagonal settings, they create a relevant look for today and for earrings that can be worn through generations. If you want to transform your diamonds with subtle sophistication, a hint of shine and an enduring quality then one of these pairs is perfect for you.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
On a personal note, I recently found an oversized domed bracelet my grandmother wore throughout my childhood. Back then, I was mesmerized by the mere size of the gold and the sparkle from the different cuts of diamonds which were set into it. It was a piece she found in what was known as a ‘second-hand store’ and she originally bought it to do something new with the pear, baguette and round shaped diamonds. Eventually, she decided to wear it the way it was and passed it down to me and I was able to re-imagine it to suit my style. I had a few stacking rings and a pair of ear climbers constructed from the diamonds. If you have any pieces with small mixed cuts of diamonds, you can do the same. Not all the diamonds you are re-purposing have to be sizeable. Sometimes the fun is in designing pieces you will wear on a regular basis or those that are of the moment.
Jade Trau has conceived of a striking signet ring that is set with a .20-carat diamond. This is now on my wishlist for the diamonds I still haven’t worked with yet.
Early on in my writing career, I worked with a jeweler to take apart a pendant, which had little marquise and round shaped diamond circling a cultured pearl which my dad gave my mom in the ‘50s and which I never wore. The jeweler revamped it into an eternity band in platinum with millegrain around the edges. The trick with these smaller stones is to get playful and have a good time. For inspiration, you can also look to the hoops that many designers are doing with multiple cut stones or bracelets and necklace chains that alternate between small pear, marquise, baguette and/or princess cut diamonds.
Redesigning your diamonds creates a sense of newness and a fresh spirit to your jewelry box You are one-of-a-kind, why shouldn’t your jewelry reflect this and offer you a way to keep the sentiment alive.