Revamp your forgotten gems
Outgrown your jewellery? Or maybe not keen on an outdated inherited piece? Yup, me too! Check out how I turned my grandma's chunky old ring into two stunning necklaces.
When my grandmother died some years ago I inherited a ring of hers that I knew even at the time that I’d never, ever wear. The piece carried significant sentimental value as I always remembered her wearing it – an opal ring with its raised ‘cage’ setting and old-fashioned circle of garnets, but it has sat in my jewellery box for 25 years, untouched and unappreciated.
I came across it again a few months back when I was searching for something else, and just thought what a waste it was to leave the ring there. It made me sad actually, because I realised that if I didn’t do something to breathe live into it, it would eventually pass from me to my daughter (who would think it even less relevant) and then what? Finally be thrown away in generations to come.
So I have taken action and I’m soooo glad I have. I went to Biagio the Jewellers in Thame, because they have a fantastic design arm there as well as the retail side (there’s also a large store in Bicester if you’re further north). I had a long chat to the manager Peter there, who apart from being the loveliest, chattiest guy also knows just about everything there is to know about jewellery, so I ended up giving him the job of bringing this old piece back to life.
My brief was to get Biagio to somehow breathe life and love into the ring again, to turn that hulking knuckleduster into a piece of jewellery I’d be proud to wear and that would remind me of my racy, funny, cheeky grandmother.
My idea was always to turn the ring into a necklace, so I Peter and I talked for some time about the kind of jewellery I was attracted to (modern vintage being the best description I could come up with) before we decided that with the number of garnets we could create an H shape. I loved that idea as I used to have a ‘Hero’ naval ring back in my clubbing days (removed when I was pregnant with my first child and never reinstated on the jellly belly), and Mr Muddy bought me a Hero necklace a few years back that has since been lost.
But I was even more grateful for his next suggestion – that we used the opal and one of the garnets to create a small necklace specifically for my daughter. How cool is that? I hadn’t even thought about that (I know, I’m totally selfish) but that touch was to me entirely keeping with what I was trying to achieve – bringing the generations together somehow, through this piece of jewellery.
And so we sketched, not pretty pictures admittedly, but ideas that I felt could work for me. I left my ring so that the semi-precious stones could be removed, Peter took the sketches and briefed the team, and two weeks later, my jewellery had multiplied.
Er, well, ‘thrilled’ would be an understating my reaction when I saw the results. I think what Biagio has done is absolutely perfect. I had been a bit nervous showing my own mum what I’d done to her mum’s jewellery – I’m not sure why I hadn’t told her, I guess I was just sure I wanted to do it and didn’t want it derailed – but she loved it too.
My daughter, who is ten, doesn’t quite get the emotional resonance of wearing a piece of jewellery from her great-grandmother yet, she’s more delighted that opals happen to be a trendy stone this year (a total coincidence as it happens). But I’m absolutely in love with my H, with its chunky gold chain to mitigate my horrific clumsiness.
The work involved in turning my ring into two bespoke necklaces was £85 for the small pendant and £185 for the gold H necklace – just the sentimental value of what has happened has made it worth ten times that, never mind having two pieces of gorgeous bespoke jewellery for £270. Obviously the price will totally depend on the complexity of the piece (Is it involving CAD design? Are you choosing platinum or silver? How intricate is the work?) but I think Biagio as as store in general is incredibly good value.
The good news is you don’t have to pay a thing to ask advice. So if you do find something languishing that could be updated or reconfigured (I’m betting there are loads of us in this situation), I’d definitely recommend popping in to Peter or Bagio. H is for Happy after all.
Biagio the Jewellers, 2 Greyhound Walk, Thame and Pioneer Square, Bicester. Tel: 01844 217001 (Thame); 01869 252323 (Bicester).