Written by: Star Sosa
Imagine you are meeting your best friend for coffee and you are showing off your new ring. Which story would be more exciting to share? “We picked it from the big-box-factory website” or “We researched local artisans and found a talented goldsmith to co-create a one-of-a-kind ring”. Isn’t it the ‘story” that makes the acquisition all the more significant? The media is filled with reports that Millennials are not that interested in traditional jewelry, but every day I meet people who are sincerely looking for a memorable experience that they can crystallize in a beautiful object they can wear.
People are searching for uniqueness and an opportunity to feel special. They want to be part of the story and the collaborative encounter with the craftsperson becomes part of their own narrative. What can compare with creating a legacy piece, working face to face with a designer and exchanging stories and exploring possibilities? How satisfying to receive something that has been tailored to your own style and personality. That’s something to recount over and over as the years go by.
Many times families bequeath heirloom jewelry to be enjoyed by the next generation. Sometimes a couple is fortunate enough to receive a family diamond or a ring to use for their engagement. Or a daughter inherits her mother’s jewelry. I remember one couple that incorporated no less than seven family diamonds into the engagement ring, diamonds from mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, and more. It was a challenge to organize all those disparate materials from different styles and eras into one cohesive project but the end result was exceptional.
In my conversations with people I find that most folks have jewelry that has meaning or memories or history, but for whatever reason, isn’t wearable. It requires restoration or repair or the style is just too dated or even uncomfortable. In most cases they feel guilty for not wearing or enjoying a valuable asset. So they tuck it away and only look at it rarely and wistfully. However, the most interesting projects can arise from looking at those unworn jewelry items with an objective designer’s eye.
Once again, it comes down to the stories. The story of where or why this item came into their possession and the story of what they wish it could be, if re-imagined. When I look over a collection of jewelry with the thought of rearranging it in creative ways to become something current and new, I look for certain specific attributes. First, what items in the collection have the most intrinsic value, such as diamonds over one carat, or have strong sentimental value (which can be just as important). I also set aside those items that have precious materials but don’t have cherished memories associated with them. These can be used as raw materials or traded in for credit to get new gold or gemstones. Finally we have a discussion about the client’s priorities and desires. Maybe he or she has always dreamed of a specific style or type of jewelry. Perhaps it is important to commemorate the family member who provided the original item. Or maybe it’s time to gift it to someone of the younger generation.
Whatever the narrative, I love being part of the process in guiding someone through the technical aspects of jewelry design and creation knowing that we are making a lasting symbol of a loving relationship. I view jewelry as emotion you can wear. I consider my job to be part consultant and part counselor. Many of the tales shared with me are sensitive and evoke a range of emotional responses. It is a privilege to be part of so many fascinating accounts, becoming part of the family history through our interpretation of metal and stones.