If you’ve been lucky enough to have inherited, or purchased, a piece of heirloom jewelry, you’ll understandably want to show it off.
“Heirloom jewelry is typically described as a piece that has been inherited through many generations,” says Jeffrey Hampton, who owns State Street Jewelers, in Geneva, Illinois. Before you decide to wear your coveted piece, have it inspected and cleaned first, notes Hampton. “Heirloom jewelry is often not necessarily maintained throughout the years because jewelry doesn’t wear out that quickly.”
Vintage pieces require a little extra care because many times they are worn thin or may have been worked on before and are weak in a certain area, says Hampton.”Those kinds of things are prone to collapsing. Especially now we’re seeing a lot of wedding and engagement rings that have been handed down, because those are pieces that are going to be worn daily.”
Often the prongs that hold the stones, as well as the top of the ring, are in need of repair or replacing, explains Hampton.”That’s the first thing we look at. Then we look at the shank, the band part on the bottom, which can actually be replaced so that it can be worn by the next generation, or three.”
The stones themselves are inspected for damage, and may need replacing. “Then refinishing, cleaning and polishing,” says Hampton. “It’s like remodeling a house. You like the fact that the floors aren’t perfectly level. It adds a little charm to know that it is a vintage ring, rather than restoring every design line. A good refinishing makes a nice presentation.The finish can normally be brought back to the standards of a brand new ring.”
Clients often bring in heirloom pieces for a simple cleaning. “Our advice is that it needs a lot more than that because even a cleaning can loosen the stones,” Hampton says. “We’re always happy to give advice on any pieces.”
State Street Jewelers : 230 W State Street, Geneva, IL 60134 : 630-232-2085 : www.statestreetjewelers.com