Do you currently own or wear anything that was gifted to you by a parent, grandparent or close relative? Today we want to talk about heirloom jewelry, which is distinctly different from antiques in the way that it is primarily special because of family connections. What qualifies a piece as heirloom jewelry is that it is a valuable piece that has been in the family for multiple generations. Even if you are the first recipient, and you know you will be passing it on, this can be an heirloom item.

Heirloom jewelry does not have to feature a previous gem or stone, even though many do. Even a simple gold or platinum band can be an heirloom item. Maybe you can add an inscription or the first initial of your name to give it more sentimental value for the person receiving it. Beauty, quality and personal and familial significance are the three characteristics of heirloom jewelry.

If you like the idea and want to choose certain personal jewelry to become heirlooms in your own family, here are a few points you can keep in mind.

  1. Quality of gold. Make sure the item is gold-filled consists of a high percentage of the metal, whether gold or silver. Something to keep in mind is that while 24 karat gold is 100% gold, it is softer and more easily dented or damaged. When choosing jewelry that is meant to be worn for generations, we recommend 18 karat (75% gold) or 19 karat gold, which is what we use for our jewelry. Also, consider and find out about metal allergies in your family, and see if there are common sensitivities.
  2. Quality of gem. If you do want a gem, ask your jeweler about gems that are less prone to scratch or chip. Since every stone has a different level of hardness, your jeweler will be able to give you information about that. Sapphires and rubies are gems that have a higher level of hardness and are great options for heirloom jewelry.
  3. Timeless Design. Jewelry that has a classic element at its core are the pieces that are the best contenders for beloved family heirlooms. This is why wedding rings are often heirlooms, since couples have long term design in mind when they choose them. Ask your jeweler diamond cuts have been historically and consistently popular (it’s the round cut), and what length of necklace is most flattering on all women.
  4. What makes your family special? What is it about your family that makes you love being a part of it? This might help you express yourself through the design. If you love how easygoing and stable your family is, maybe your aesthetic will be more clean. If you inherited a deep love of travel from your parents, you can look at international styles of jewelry for inspiration. You can also choose gems that represent your family’s personality according to gem meaning and aesthetic.
  5. Rites of passage. When you receive or give the gift can be part of what makes heirloom jewelry so special. Engagement rings can be passed down for sons to propose with, mothers can give their favourite stud earrings to their daughters on their sixteenth birthday, or fathers can give special cuff links or tie clips to sons as a graduation gift. If you have a special graduation ring (like the ones customized by Jostens) created by your class, you can pass that also down as your heirloom. These rings can display the legacy you leave behind.

We hope this excites you to look at your jewelry purchases as investments into possible heirlooms and that it sparks conversations and inquiry into special items in your family.