In the popular holiday film, The Family Stone, one of the main characters, Everett (played by Dermot Mulroney) brings his girlfriend Meredith (played by the comedic Sarah Jessica Parker) home for the holidays in hopes that his mother will finally release the family stone to him — he wants to propose! If you’ve seen the film, then you know that his tough mother (played by Diane Keaton) initially refuses, hissing: “I’m not going to give my ring to that woman.”
The point being: Our family stones are priceless, and to be guarded and protected (preserved) at all costs. If you don’t have a Diane Keaton protecting your family stones, you should think about preserving your own family stones in time for the holidays, as stones and heritage jewelry pieces are an important part of passing on your family’s unique history.
What Is a Family Heirloom?
An heirloom is simply a piece of property handed down from one generation to another. It might be your grandmother’s pearl necklace or your great-aunt’s jeweled ruby pin or your great-great-grandmother’s diamond wedding ring set.
3 Simple Steps to Refurbish Your Heritage Jewelry
Have you ever re-upholstered a favorite chair or re-stained an old piece of woodwork in your home? Repurposing and upcycling has never been more popular in American culture. Vintage is in. So, what about those family diamonds? Those family stones that mean so much to your family? How do you preserve those?
Most jewelry can be repaired — from necklaces to bracelets to rings. A master jeweler and craftsman can, and should, do everything possibly to preserve the originality (the look, the stones, the style) of the heritage piece you own. Quality craftsmanship includes remembering that this jewelry piece has special value to the client and should not be altered beyond what is necessary for the repair and preservation of that piece.
There are three simple steps to refurbishing any piece of heritage jewelry:
Step 1: Buffing and Polishing the Metal
Heritage jewelry (just like furniture) can be refurbished. In other words: buffed and polished. This process will remove minor scratches and any wear and tear that has naturally occurred over decades and, in some cases, centuries of use.
Step 2: Family Stone Cleaning
If your heirloom jewelry has any stones — diamonds, rubies, emeralds, etc. — those stones can be cleaned. This is a process that removes any dirt, oils, lotions, etc. that have built up over the life of the piece so that your piece comes out looking sparkling and new (yet still vintage) again.
Step 3: Steam Cleaning
Steam cleaning works for carpets, and it works for jewelry too. The third step in bringing your vintage jewelry back to life is steam cleaning. This process removes any dirt and grime that should not be there, so that your piece can sparkle and shine again.
Step 4: Plating
And finally, the refurbishing process for your heritage piece will include plating. Plating can be done for all types of metal — from sterling silver to white gold to brass plated with gold or silver. Think of this process as simply giving your heritage jewelry a new coat of paint. In the same way that we freshen up old furniture or walls with fresh paint, we can recoat our legacy jewelry with new alloys and metals to approximate the look and feel of the original. Then, you can take your vintage jewelry out for the holidays and enjoy the memories they evoke.
Is It Time to Bring Your Jewelry Back to Life?
At the end of the movie, The Family Stone, we see the daughter, Amy (played by Rachel McAdams), wearing her mother’s rather large rectangular green onyx ring; it is a way for her mother’s legacy to live on, through her. While we cannot bring our family members back to us, we can remember them and preserve their memory by bringing their jewelry back to life.
If your heritage jewelry pieces are in need of a refresh or a repair, check out myjewelryrepair.com. Our skilled team of experts can repair, clean, adapt or adjust jewelry of all kinds.
Preserving Our Cultural Heritage
During this season of Thanksgiving, while we acknowledge our complicated history in America, we can also give thanks for the beauty—the handiwork, the art, the stones and fine jewelry—created by the American Indian artisans in our midst. We can seek to preserve—and even revive—our beautiful, collective cultural heritage as we display these indigenous creations in our lives.