Heirloom jewellery is a meaningful object that belongs to a family and gets passed on through generations. Why do some pieces of jewellery turn into heirlooms? Their value and beauty are crucial factors, but more importantly, the story behind them is key. Heirloom jewellery is symbolic of love, accomplishment and family.
In this article, we explain what heirloom jewellery is, how jewellery traditions are created, and the 5 jewellery items that most often turn into deeply sentimental family keepsakes.
What is heirloom jewellery?
Heirloom jewellery is an item of jewellery that you inherit, usually from a loved family member, and which you then pass on to the next generation in your family.
Is heirloom jewellery valuable?
While heirloom jewellery items tend to be characterised by their financial value and refined design, it is their sentimental value that makes them precious.
For example, a ring you have inherited from your grandmother and plan to pass on to your own daughter could be worth thousands, or worth very little.
It is probably much more important to you that your beloved grandmother gave you that ring, and you hope that her memory will live on when you one day pass the ring on to your own children, and the then do the same.
How and when are jewellery heirloom traditions created?
Heirloom jewellery traditions are almost invariably created on special occasions.
When you receive a memorable gift from a loved one, you tend to value that object highly. What’s more, that item of jewellery will later remind you of the wonderful time you spent with your loved one.
That special significance is also what makes you want to give our heirloom items to others – to create more memories and moments full of emotion. You hope that future generations will cherish these symbolic possessions as much as you do.
In this way, heirloom jewellery creates a direct connection to your family history.
What occasions are suitable for passing on an heirloom jewellery piece?
If you own a family heirloom item, you undoubtedly cherish it. So when you pass it on, the importance of the occasion must match the emotional value of the item.
Small jewellery heirlooms like necklaces and earrings make wonderful coming of age gifts for young people. Sweet 16th, 18th and 21st birthdays are such times, as are communions and graduations.
Grander pieces are suitable for adults and for marking big life events. For example, an engagement or a marriage, the birth of a baby, or big round-number birthdays.
5 Types of jewellery items that most often turn into family heirlooms
Let’s take a look at some of the jewellery items that most often turn into family heirlooms.
1. Engagement rings
Engagement rings are quintessential heirlooms. They have huge sentimental significance as well as financial value. Engagement rings can also be re-worn, re-sized, melted down and cast again into other pieces of jewellery.
2. Diamond earrings
Jewellery and fashion professionals consider diamond earrings to be a ‘jewellery essential’. This is because a classic pair of diamond earrings goes with any outfit and never looks outdated. Diamond solitaire studs have lasting durability and beauty that’s tough and timeless enough to withstand generational wear.
3. Pendant necklaces
Diamond and gemstone necklaces are typical heirlooms. Many people receive cross pendants to commemorate their communion or wedding. Lockets, heart shaped pendants and initial necklaces are charming and personal items of jewellery.
4. Diamond bracelets
A diamond bracelet is a jewellery collection staple. Classic tennis bracelets are effortless to wear and never grow old-fashioned.
5. Eternity and wedding rings
An eternity ring is a beautiful and traditional representation of the circle of life. These special rings are often given as wedding rings, anniversary presents or to commemorate the birth of a first child. Few jewellery items are as representative of family ties and deep affection. When eventually handed down from parent to child, they create a legacy of love.
Creating your own jewellery heirloom
What if you wish to create your own heirloom? Jewellery is the perfect choice. If you buy a piece wisely, it can be worn and enjoyed forever.
If you want a gemstone, the Big Five Gems – diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and tanzanite – provide most financial value. In terms of durability, sapphires and rubies are the best due to their almost diamond-like hardness.
What to consider when choosing an heirloom?
When you purchase an item that you intend to pass on as an heirloom one day, consider its style and quality. It should be solidly made with first-class materials that hold up to wear and tear. Finally, think timeless rather than trendy. Choose a classic style that will never go out of fashion.
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