Jewellery boxes are always filled with pieces of treasure. Picture: Pexabay
Jewellery boxes are always filled with pieces of treasure. Picture: Pexabay

How to choose the perfect heirloom piece

By Gerry Cupido Time of article published Nov 8, 2019

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One of my fondest childhood memories is of me sitting at my mother’s dressing table looking through her jewellery collection. 

I would spend the longest time admiring the sparkling diamonds, colourful gemstones and beloved pearls - inspecting every detail of each perfectly designed piece and dreaming about the day I could wear them. 

Little did I know that my mom had long picked out specific pieces just for me. 

As I got older she would point out those pieces and I would try them out longing for the day that they will finally be mine. 

Thankfully my mother has impeccable taste, so the pieces she picked out for me were as incredible as she is. 

On my 21st birthday, she presented me with the jewels I had waited for for so long. 

The sapphire ring set in gold with the dark blue surrounded by twinkling diamonds made my heart skip a beat with its matching pendant which hung on a dainty gold chain. 

With the birth of each of my children, she gifted me a silver piece of jewellery - a bracelet for my son, ring for my daughter and earrings for my youngest. 

Now that I have daughters I would like to not only pass my mom’s pieces to them but acquire pieces to give them when they are older. 

When buying a piece of jewellery you foresee being in your family for many years, it’s important to choose wisely. 

Kristin Weixelbaumer, Black Betty founder and jewellery designer, shares her advice on selecting an heirloom piece of jewellery. 

Black Betty founder and jewellery designer Kristin Weixelbaumer. Picture: Supplied

“An heirloom piece of jewellery is a meaningful object that lives in a family and gets passed down through several generations,” says designer Weixelbaumer.

She adds that not every heirloom piece needs to rival the British queen's pearl-drop earrings, now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Recently Duchess Kate wore Princess Diana’s earrings to the Remembrance day ceremony, while Meghan often wears Diana’s small butterfly earrings.

Princess Diana wearing her butterfly earrings. Picture: Instagram
Duchess Meghan wearing the late Princess Diana's butterfly earrings.

“The value and beauty of a piece of jewellery are factors to consider - but the story behind them is the most important element,” says Weixelbaumer.  

“Heirlooms are a direct link to a family’s history and are usually linked to a special occasion – a marriage, the birth or christening of a child or a milestone anniversary.”

Here’s what you’ll need to keep in mind when investing in an heirloom piece: 

Previous metal

In terms of metal, gold or platinum are first prize. Silver is next best, but it is a much softer metal compared to the others. 

Be a gem

If you want a gemstone, the Big Five Gems: Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and tanzanite – provide the most in terms of financial value. In terms of durability, sapphires and rubies are the best due to their almost diamond-like hardness.

Standing the test of time

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.

Format considerations

Think about the type of item that is likely to survive several generations: solitaire diamond studs are understated and hold their value. Pearls are a timeless addition to any jewellery collection - specifically when mounted in rings or worn individually as earrings. 

 A simple gem suspended off a good quality necklace is a stylish and beautiful option.

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