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  • What to Do With Heirloom jewelry?
  • Post author
    Maureen Moffett

What to Do With Heirloom jewelry?

What to Do With Heirloom jewelry?

Deciding what to do with jewelry we don't wear can be complicated, and we often just leave those family heirlooms or gifts from relationships past languishing in the jewelry box. I have a few such pieces begging for something, anything, to happen to them. These vintage Retro period 18k rose gold, diamond and French cut sapphire bow earrings hold a lot of sentimental value to me, as well as collectible  and intrinsic value. My grandma picked them up at a garage sale decades ago, thinking they were pretty and worth the dollar or two she paid. She had a good eye, and while she never knew me as a jewelry designer, she and I shared a passion for jewels.

The question now is, what to do with them? I am far too sentimental to sell them.  For a time I had considered removing the stones and designing something else, perhaps a ring, a band, to showcase the French cut sapphire. In this particular case, I wouldn't be interested in using the small diamonds with the sapphire, but I would love to mix in some French cut diamonds (OMG if you don't love them you haven't seen them) but that cost plus the new design and materials, is a budget consideration. So, how much do I love those sapphire? Do I love them enough to free them from their settings?

At the end of the day, I appreciate the blood, sweat and tears put into the original design. The Retro period has its share of collectors, who appreciate the aesthetics of the era, weighty and bold, and like to wear a piece of gilded history.  I have considered "if I don't wear these as earrings, can I figure out how to wear them another way which preserves the integrity of the design, but updates wearability?"

If these belonged to client who didn't wear them as earrings but loved the design and wanted to find a way to wear them, what would I advise?

The good news is that repurposing or altering an existing design can be the best option to letting your heirlooms see the light of day, and accessorizing to your individual style. In the case of these Retro bow earrings, I would consider making one into a ring. Worn on the first finger, the sweetness of the bow motif would be tempered by the authoritative placement, lending an elegant edge to an otherwise girlish design. Worn on the ring finger, this weighty precious bow would make an equally bold and unexpected engagement ring, graduation gift, or right hand ring. 

My second option, which might be my favorite, is to create a simple pendant necklace from one of the earrings. Who doesn't want to be wrapped up in precious gems and gold?

I will be redesigning and/or repurposing some vintage pieces I've collected on my treasure hunts and will include updates on this blog and social media. If you have any questions about an item you never wear but would like to redesign or repurpose, send me an email ( or comment below and I'm happy to provide some feedback. Plus I love looking at people's jewelry and hearing their stories!

  • Post author
    Maureen Moffett

Comments on this post (2)

  • Sep 27, 2023

    My grandmother handed her heirloom jewelry collection to me in her will, but they look a little too old and outdated to wear these days, so I was wondering what I should do with them. I’m thankful you recommended repurposing the jewelry since this is one creative way to let our heirlooms see the light of day since we can then use them to accessorize with our individual style. I’ll take note of this while I look for jewelry experts working in Toowoomba to hire for the remodeling my heirlooms need soon.

    — Clare Martin

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