Home » Tips » Treasuring Family Heirlooms: Protecting Old Jewelry For the Next Generation


Inheriting jewelry from a relative can be an incredibly sentimental experience, especially when those pieces are tied to good memories of the past and a wonderful relative you hope to cherish forever. However, we don’t always like the pieces that we inherit. Remember, just like with designer clothing, one can’t always tell which pieces are the most valuable or designed by the most prestigious artists simply by style.

We might feel extremely special when incredibly valuable or rare stones are passed down to us, but some of the most intriguing pieces of old jewelry are decorative costume pieces with little-to-no precious metal or stone value. Treasuring the pieces handed down over the generations also comes with the responsibility for caring for the piece through professional appraisal as well as at-home care for the metals and jewels.


Determining The Value of Old Jewelry: Picking High-End Pieces Out of the Junk Drawer

Style adjusts by season: certain charms, metals, stones, and other fixtures may not be trendy now, but they will increase drastically in value when style swings back around in your favor. Since like most of history, fashion tends to repeat itself, it is best to keep these heirloom pieces in top condition for that moment that such style makes a big fashion comeback.  If you are not interested in these pieces from a fashion standpoint or in terms of sentimental value, and simply would like to know the resale value of the piece, it is important to have the piece professionally appraised before selling it online or to a jewelry dealer.

In many instances, people assume that a piece they find distasteful is of poor quality, and they choose to sell the piece at extremely low prices on Ebay, or through a local jewelry store simply to make quick cash. Only an accredited appraiser can inform you of the true full value of the piece, such as to help you avoid future scams or tricks from salesmen looking to profit from your ignorance.


Remodeling and Refurbishing: Altering Heirloom Pieces to Match Your Style

If you don’t like your relative’s old jewelry pieces, don’t give up hope yet. One big trend within the field of jewelry preservation is utilizing heirloom metals and jewels in new ways to make pieces handed down over generations wearable with today’s modern styles.

Jewelers who are trained in protecting old jewelry and its value while simultaneously shaping it into something new help members of today’s generation appreciate a more vintage style. A necklace can be incorporated within a new bracelet design, earrings may be repurposed as brooches or pins, or the stone of a wedding ring may become an important part of a new necklace setting. A consultation with a jeweler can show you how to use these heirlooms to create new, stylish pieces that retain elements of the old design and are still sentimental in value.


Industry Tips and Tricks: Some of the Best Quick-Fixes for Old Jewelry

When old jewelry is made of fake gems, we want to make sure that they shine equally as bright and with the vivid colors as the more expensive pieces within our jewelry box. Some women swear by painting the tops of imitation stones with clear nail polish to help to preserve the color of them over time, serving as a sealant. However, professionals in the industry recommend investing in artist’s fixative or DesignaSeal top coat, which will prevent the yellowing that most clear nail polishes induce over time. The liquid should be painted in one thin coat on top of the visible part of the gem, carefully avoiding any of the metals or other elements in order to prevent the appearance of spills and drips. Another tried-and-true trick might require a bit of an investment on your part, but makes all the difference in terms of keeping jewelry looking its natural best.

Professionals insist upon separating jewelry by metal when storing it. As a result of the chemicals interacting with one another, when products made with different metal alloys are near or touch each other, they tend to tarnish quicker. Of course, this tip is also in part based upon common sense: strands tend to tangle and scratch against each other when stored in one single location, and separation prevents any of that associated damage from occurring. Necklace repair is not one of the most expensive restoration processes, but it can cause great changes to the original look of the piece and detract from the value of what has been preserved thus far. Be sure that heirloom pieces kept in a dry, cool place separate from your everyday pieces and are buffered by protective non-metal cushions to keep them looking their best for future generations to come.

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