There’s no shame in taking precious family heirlooms or cherished engagement rings and reimagining them into new designs that reflect your personal style. “What’s the point in having your grandmother’s brooch if it’s just gathering dust in a safe?” asks Jessica McCormack, one of London’s most beloved designers for gorgeous diamond rings and jewelry. “I want to see diamonds worn every day.”
More and more women agree with Jessica and they aren’t hesitating to upcycle both their family jewels and their own tired pieces. What’s the motivation to redesign, rather than to simply buy a new piece? Women want to hold onto the sentimentality and significance of family diamonds, but they also want to express their individuality in a custom design. Plus the lasting value of natural diamonds makes it worthwhile for clients to invest in a redesign that they can wear for decades says Corina Madilian, who owns Single Stone, which has two retail locations in the Los Angeles area. “A diamond is constant; people are always attracted to the sparkle and glow and it never goes out of style”
A customer recently visited Single Stone with rings from her grandmother, mother and aunt, and Corina used diamonds from each of the rings to create a new wedding band. “The ring is a family tapestry, and it’s so significant to our customer,” says Corina who, with her husband Ari, collaborates with her clients to transform family treasures into modern pieces that reflect their personal style. Another woman, who had an asscher-cut diamond engagement ring she no longer wore, fell in love with the company’s signature Caroline ring design, and instantly imagined her stone in its streamlined setting.
Social media is inspiring Jade Trau’s clients to rethink their diamonds.
Now that customers have direct access to designers through social media, she says, they can see more design options and easily collaborate on new pieces. Owner Jade Lustig says clients send her a wide variety of jewelry, from diamond stud earrings and simple tennis bracelets to chunky metal and diamond necklaces, all looking to turn them into contemporary pieces that they can wear every day.
“I love working with stones that have meaning to the wearer,” says Jade. “It makes the experience of designing and creating that much more gratifying.”
A woman brought her a pair of emerald and diamond earrings (which were the first significant gift she received from her husband 30 years ago), and which were too classic for her taste and had sat unworn in her jewelry box for a decade. Jade used the cherished emeralds and diamonds to create playful hoop earrings, which the client now wears all the time.
Jemma Wynne constantly receives images of old jewelry from Instagram followers who are looking to repurpose their diamonds. Partners Jenny Klatt and Stephanie Wynne Lalin collaborate with those clients to create smart solutions. “Now more than ever people want jewelry that is wearable, meaningful and sentimental,” say Stephanie. Among Jemma Wynne’s most popular styles are their two-stone open rings, which they have been making for the past decade. They also set diamonds on chunky chains to create necklaces and bracelets.
One client, a mother of two young children, recently brought in her grandmother’s 5-carat emerald ring with emerald cut side stones that didn’t suit her busy lifestyle. Jenny and Stephanie re-set the stone in a simple gold bezel to highlight the natural beauty of the gem. Another client brought in a traditional engagement ring set in platinum that felt tired.
Jessica McCormack works almost exclusively with old diamonds, even including them in her new signature designs, because “old cuts have more personality and nuance.” She says there is so much more to a stone than what’s on a diamond certificate. “We talk about our own four C’s, which are collect, curate, character and cult.” One of Jessica’s most striking new creations was made with diamonds from several different family jewelry pieces that had been sitting in a client’s jewelry box. “We re-set the diamonds, so they shimmy in a fringe setting, and are dangling off a gold bangle,” she explains. “The client is ecstatic, and she says she wears it constantly.”
“Stones have such longevity,” says Jessica. “It’s only right that their past lives are celebrated.”