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Heirloom Jewelry

January 24th, 2023 | by Editorial Team

Everything you need to know about Heirloom Jewelry

Heirloom jewelry holds special sentimental value and many consider these pieces priceless. Each valuable heirloom piece gets passed down from generation to generation, making it a symbolic piece of jewelry representing family, love, and tradition. You think of your loved one every time you wear a piece of heirloom jewelry. 

While many use the terms antique, vintage, and estate interchangeably, these terms have different meanings. Vintage jewelry refers to pisces that were created at least 25 years ago. Antique jewelry generally is 100 years old or more. Estate jewelry is generally defined as any jewelry that has had a previous owner, and the owner can be alive or deceased. 

Heirloom jewelry’s monetary value depends on the materials used in the piece. Take a closer look at what type of metal and what type of gemstones were used. Designs are often unusual and unique. Pieces with precious gemstones, such as pearls, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, and tanzanite hold the most worth. Common heirloom jewelry includes watches, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, brooches, and rings. 

Repurposing Heirloom or Vintage Jewelry

Each heirloom jewelry piece is unique. Some might need some restoration and repair to get it looking new again, while other pieces need to be repurposed into a new piece of jewelry. Perhaps the jewelry is too damaged or dated and can be reimagined to a piece that’s worn more. While not all heirloom pieces need repurposed, it’s helpful to first take it to a jewelry appraiser to discuss its value and whether it can be used to create a new piece or if it’s best to restore it. Some pieces can’t be repurposed. 

Here are a few ways to repurpose your pieces: 

  • Wear in a new way: Wear a chunky necklace wrapped around your wrist like a bracelet or put an elaborate ring on a chain. Clip-on earrings can be made into brooches or hair ornaments. 
  • Change the metal: Updating the metal can give the piece a whole new look. 
  • Make it into smaller pieces: If you have a larger piece, consider making it into some smaller pieces. For example, a statement necklace can be changed into earrings or a large cocktail ring can be made into a pendant and earrings. 
  • Redesign it: If the original setting isn’t salvageable, consider removing the gemstones and redesigning a new piece. Before you completely resign anything, consider the feelings of family members who could be hurt by redesigning. Your redesigned piece can then be passed from generation to generation! 

Tips for Choosing Heirloom Jewelry

If you’re considering purchasing a piece of heirloom jewelry, you want to ensure it’s a quality piece of jewelry that will last for generations. Ensure this by selecting high-quality meta, such as 14K gold or platinum. The metal work and settings need to be strong enough to hold the stones for years to come. Any gemstones in the ring need to be sturdily set in place. You’ll also want to select quality gemstones that can last. Harder gemstones, such as diamonds, sapphires, and rubies are good options. Evaluate each gemstone and piece of jewelry that you’re considering. 

In terms of design, select timeless styles. Consider engraving your piece to add a more personal touch. For example, for a college graduation, imagine giving your daughter a pinky ring with her birthstone (sapphire) and an engraved message inside of the ring. She’d cherish that ring for years to come and pass it down.

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Final Thoughts about Heirloom Jewelry

With heirloom jewelry, it’s important to take excellent care of it so that it can last for generations. First, have it cleaned and checked by professionals at least once a year. They can check the stones, prongs, and settings to make sure nothing is loose. If you wear the jewelry more often, get it checked and cleaned three to four times a year. If you’d like to clean it at home, use a soft bristle toothbrush and a mixture of hot water and glass cleaner. 

Store your items carefully to avoid damage. Store pieces separately in a lined box so that pieces don’t scratch one another. And if you’re wearing sentimental pieces, make sure you remove them before showering, exercising, working in the yard, etc. 

Hopefully, the information in this article allows you to see the sentimental and monetary value of heirloom pieces. You have plenty of ways to wear your pieces differently or redesign to make them your own. Perhaps you’re considering purchasing a piece to pass down in your family. Select high-quality pieces that feature fine metal and gemstones that are hard enough to last for generations.

FAQs

What qualifies as heirloom jewelry? 

Heirloom jewelry are special pieces with sentimental value that are passed on from generation to generation. It’s often given to family members for momentous occasions such as birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries. 

What is the difference between vintage and estate jewelry? 

Jewelry created 25 years ago or older is considered vintage. Estate jewelry is generally defined as any jewelry that is sold, worn by the owner, and then comes back into the marketplace. It is second-hand jewelry and the previous owners can be alive or deceased. 

Which gemstones are usually seen in heirloom jewelry? 

Heirloom jewelry typically features precious stones, such as pearls, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and tanzanite. Harder stones will last for years to come, so rubies, diamonds, and sapphires are all great options.

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