Many pieces of heirloom jewelry are rare and valuable whether the piece was created by a well-known jewelry designer or design house or it was owned and worn by a family member, giving it sentimental value.
However, even though you treasure an heirloom piece of jewelry, it may sit for years in a jewelry box without being worn because the style is outdated and the piece is fragile. To give new life to a piece of heirloom jewelry, you can have it redesigned by following a few simple steps.
Check the Heirloom Hallmarks
Before you have an heirloom redesigned, you need to find out its current value. To do this, check the hallmarks that are stamped on the piece. Look on the back or underside of the heirloom with a jeweler's loupe or magnifying glass to see the hallmarks. Standard hallmarks include:
- Purity hallmark - indicates the percentage of precious metal in the piece
- Maker's hallmark - identifies the jeweler or jewelry design house that created it
- Date hallmark - states when it was made
- Town hallmark - lists the country of origin
Keep in mind that there is a variety of different hallmarks that could be stamped on your piece. If you're not sure what the hallmark on your piece of jewelry means, then you can look it up. The Hallmark Research Institute's website has links to government, educational, and private websites with registered jewelry hallmark databases.
Appraise Your Heirloom
After you have identified your heirloom's hallmarks, certify its value by having it appraised. An appraisal will verify that the piece is valuable and a good candidate for a redesign. To establish its value, the appraiser will weigh, grade, and measure the metal in your piece. They will also perform a chemical analysis to determine the metal's purity.
The appraiser will also weigh heirloom gemstones and note their cut, clarity, and condition. They will test the gemstones and state whether or not they are natural or synthetic and if they have been treated for color enhancement.
To find a qualified and certified jewelry appraiser in your area, contact the American Gem Society or the Appraisers Association of America.
Redesign Your Heirloom
Once you know the meaning of the hallmarks and understand your jewelry's value, you can start the redesign process. Sketch some ideas to create a new contemporary design, or look at jewelry catalogs to find pieces that you like and make a book of design ideas.
Find a Creative Jewelry Company
Find a professional jewelry company that creates custom jewelry. Make an appointment to discuss your redesign. Bring your piece of jewelry, your redesign ideas, and photographs of other jewelry pieces that you like. Discuss the feasibility of your sketches and be open to new ideas from the jewelers. They have a unique point of view because of their extensive experience with metal and gemstones.
Work together with the jewelry company to come up with a redesign that is uniquely your own and honors the history of the heirloom. And before they begin to create your new piece, the company you decide to work with will ask you to approve the final design.
Create Your New Heirloom
To begin your project, a jeweler will disassemble the piece and unset the stones. The jeweler will then melt the heirloom's metal in a crucible together with new metal, cast the design, reset the gemstones, and hallmark your new design. Then you'll have a more modern piece of jewelry that still carries sentimental value.
To redesign and create a new piece of jewelry from an heirloom, contact Lang's C & L Jewelry, Inc. Our skilled jewelers are artists and create custom jewelry that you will love to wear.