Heirloom jewellery is a meaningful item that belongs to a family and gets passed on through generations. But 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, tradition, 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?
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 they 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.
Does heirloom equal luxury?
“Luxury is in each detail”, said Hubert de Givenchy. We could certainly say that this is the physical essence of any beautifully crafted heirloom jewellery item. For sure, the piece itself must have a special design, quality, originality and craftsmanship.
Secondly, however, heirloom items must also evoke emotion. For example, an eternity ring gifted from one partner to another to celebrate a birth of a child is sparkling and beautifully designed – but most important of all, it symbolises unconditional love and the importance of family.
Even if you aren’t sure why an heirloom item looks or feels unique, you’ll subconsciously pick up on its special qualities and meaning. Heirlooms are not limited to any one type of design or look. They can be modern or vintage, grand or understated.
Most of all, they must be beautifully made, special, personal and last a long time.
How is heirloom jewellery crafted?
To class a piece of jewellery as an heirloom it must be created by a skilled, expert jeweller. Master jewellers have the necessary training, experience, skills and equipment to make, from scratch, the finest pieces of jewellery.
Metalwork and stone-setting are particularly important. The ring bands and gemstone settings must be cut, coaxed, filed and polished into shape.
For example, eternity rings are very complex rings to set. The diamonds or gems that go all the way around the band must be measured exactly, so they fit perfectly side by side around the band without any gaps. As you can imagine, the diamond setter cannot just overlap stones at the end if he miscalculates the space! Only the most beautiful and lasting ones can be handcrafted by the most skilled jewellers.
Did you know that we have a decades-long tradition of handcrafting our jewellery? Take a peek below into our workshop!
5 Types of jewellery items that most often turn into family heirlooms
We’ll next take a look at five 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. They symbolise the love of two people who want to make a commitment to spend the rest of their lives together.
2. Diamond earrings
Jewellery and fashion professionals consider diamond earrings to be a ‘jewellery essential’. This is because a classic pair of diamond earrings go with any outfit and never look outdated, even after many decades have passed. They have lasting durability and beauty that are timeless enough to withstand wear from one generation to the next.
3. Diamond pendant necklaces
Diamond and gemstone necklaces make beautiful heirlooms. Many people receive cross pendants to commemorate their communion or wedding, and lockets, heart-shaped pendants and initial necklaces as special birthday and Christmas gifts. These are wonderful keepsakes to pass down to your children, grandchildren, daughters-in-law, god-children or nieces and nephews.
4. Diamond bracelets
A diamond bracelet is a jewellery collection staple that effortlessly becomes an heirloom. Especially classic tennis bracelets never grow old-fashioned. Just like diamond earrings, they suit any occasion and outfit and therefore transcend time and fashion.
5. Eternity rings 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 as these. When eventually handed down from parent to child, they create a legacy of love.
Creating your own jewellery heirloom tradition
What if you wish to create your own heirloom? Jewellery is a perfect choice. If you buy a piece wisely, it can be worn and enjoyed forever. Some classic heirloom jewellery items are diamond rings, platinum jewellery, pearls, and tennis bracelets.
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.
Finally, what should you consider when choosing an heirloom jewellery piece?
When you purchase an item that you intend to pass on as an heirloom one day, first and foremost, consider its style and quality. It should be solidly made with first-class materials that hold up to wear and tear.
Secondly, think timeless rather than trendy. If you choose a classic style of jewellery that will never go out of fashion, it can be worn by your family – and tell your story – for generations.
Shop Heirloom Jewellery
Beautiful and handcrafted, to be loved for a lifetime and more