Heirloom Jewelry: Making it Your Own
Whether it’s the gift of “something old” for your wedding, or inheritance from a relative, you may find yourself the new caretaker of a piece of heirloom jewelry.
While the gift of a family memento is an honor, it can also become a sticky subject.
Before you decide whether to keep your new-to-you jewelry in its original state, sell it, or redesign it into something that better fits your style, read through The Knot’s etiquette advice on resetting an heirloom stone or diamond.
Ready to make your decision? Here’s a quick guide on how to successfully navigate all three options.
Getting an Appraisal
Regardless of which option you choose, the first step in the process should be getting a professional appraisal.
The purpose of an appraisal is to identify or authenticate the item and to assign an appropriate value. A complete appraisal should include:
- A description of the item type (ring, necklace, bracelet, etc.)
- The type of metal
- Center and side stone information, if applicable (cut, color, clarity, carat weight)
- Value of the jewelry
If your appraisal doesn’t include a photo of the item, snap one yourself and keep it with your appraisal document.
Finding Qualified Appraisers
While most appraisers do have training in gemstone grading, appraising is more comprehensive than just evaluating the gemstone. A qualified appraiser should have top gemological credentials as well as additional training in appraising.
Your jeweler is a good starting point. Inquire about their appraisal services, and what credentials their in-house appraisers have, or where they send items out to be appraised.
If your jeweler doesn’t offer appraisals, or you don’t feel comfortable with their appraisal process, independent appraisers are a great option. These are appraisers who don’t sell jewelry at all and have no vested interest in the outcome of the appraisal. Search for independent appraisers by state.
An appraisal is especially important if you’re insuring your jewelry or if you’re looking to sell it for a fair value. Read more about the specifics to look for when securing an appraisal for insurance purposes.
Selling Your Jewelry
Maybe there’s nothing about your inherited piece that appeals to you, or maybe it carries some bad memories. Whatever the motivation for selling, CIRCA is a great company to research.
The jewelry buyers at CIRCA are some of the foremost experts in estate jewelry. They will give you an accurate price with unparalleled service, making your selling experience effortless.
Here’s what Lauren S., from Greenwich, Conn., had to say about her experience:
“I had a brooch my grandmother gave me, a bracelet my ex-husband gave me, and a necklace I was given on the occasion of my 40th birthday and I wasn’t wearing any of it. It was all sitting in a drawer, collecting dust. With the money I got from CIRCA, I can finally go out and buy a piece of jewelry for myself!”
Learn more about selling your heirloom jewelry through CIRCA.
Redesigning Your Jewelry
If you want to honor the memory of the original piece, but it just doesn’t suit your style, redesigning is the perfect choice. Chances are the previous owner wants the piece to be worn and cherished, not locked away or sold to a stranger.
- Consider all the options when deciding how to recreate your piece:
- Place the original gemstones in a new setting
- Keep the setting, but change the stones
- Create a completely different type of jewelry
A quick search on Pinterest for “redesigned jewelry” will give you tons of inspiration for creative new ways to upcycle your old jewelry.
Check with your favorite jeweler to see what redesign capabilities they have, or who they might recommend. There are a couple online resources that specialize in redesigning jewelry, too, like Gemvara and The Perfect Setting.
Photo source: The Perfect Setting
However you decide to use your heirloom jewelry, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!