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  • Writer's pictureValerieBound

Heirlooms and Mementos – From My Jewelry Box to Yours

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

This time of year always makes me feel incredibly grateful for the abundance in my life – family, friendship, and community. And one of the ways those connections resonate with me is through jewelry. Today I wanted to take you inside my own jewelry box and show you some of my favorite pieces. I also wanted to showcase some world-famous heirlooms that I’m sure you’re seen, and perhaps a few that you have not.

So, before we get started, I should confess I probably have too much jewelry! Far more than I need! And truly, I like all my pieces. But a treasured few are especially meaningful.

Let’s start with the rings.

Keeping rings in the family

My most precious possession is, of course, my wedding ring. I picked it out myself. I gave guidance to my dear husband during our engagement, but he simply said to me, “you’re the one who’s going to be wearing it for the rest of your life. You need to LOVE it.”

And I do. I love the filigree, the silver color, and the diamond size – not too big, and not too small.

<img class="wp-image-5328 lazyload" src="" alt="My own wedding ring, in white gold" width="324" height="432" srcset=" 810w, 225w, 768w, 610w, 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 324px) 100vw, 324px" /> My own wedding ring, in white gold

Wedding rings are the most common kinds of heirloom jewelry. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from women who have their mother’s or their grandmother’s ring. It’s very sweet.

The most famous heirloom ring in the world is probably Princess Diana’s. It was heartwarming to see it get passed on to Princess Kate.

<img class=" wp-image-5324 lazyload" src="" alt="I love how the Windsors are keeping the most famous sapphire engagement ring in the world in the family. " width="470" height="470" srcset=" 800w, 150w, 300w, 768w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 470px) 100vw, 470px" /> I love how the Windsors kept this fabulous sapphire ring in the family!

It’s not just rings, though. Below, you can see Barbara Bush’s granddaughter, also named Barbara, wearing the same bracelet as her grandmother. She wore it on her wedding day as her “something borrowed.”

<img class=" wp-image-5349 lazyload" src="" alt="This bracelet is definitely staying in the Bush family!" width="504" height="378" srcset=" 800w, 300w, 768w, 610w, 510w" sizes="(max-width: 504px) 100vw, 504px" /> This bracelet is definitely staying in the Bush family!

Lost & Found

Another precious memento is my Black Hills gold ring. This ring is a replacement of the very first ring I ever received from my father. When I was little, probably 7 or 8 years old, my father got me a Black Hills gold ring. I loved it and wore it everywhere, showing it off to anyone and everyone. But then I went swimming with my cousins and lost it. We all spent an entire afternoon sifting the through the sands on the bottom of the lake, looking for my lost ring. We never found it. I was despondent. I told my father, who didn’t seem overly concerned and didn’t give me a lecture about taking better care of my stuff. That just made me feel worse. Then one night, he walked in on me while I was crying my eyes out. When he asked me what was wrong, I told him how sad I was about my ring. I felt horribly guilty because I couldn’t remember the design. My dad told me not to worry, and to stop crying. The ring barely cost him anything, maybe $40, he said. He would get me another one.

And so he did. I have treasured it ever since. I hope to pass it on to one of my daughters someday.

<img class=" wp-image-5331 lazyload" src="" alt="My Black Hills gold ring" width="472" height="354" srcset=" 1440w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w, 510w, 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 472px) 100vw, 472px" /> My Black Hills gold ring

Remembering special events

Sometimes our jewelry helps us remember special things that happened in our life. For me, it was my very first prom. I was but a lowly sophomore, lucky enough to have a senior ask me to our school’s junior-senior prom. Everything was so exciting! I borrowed a dress from a friend, and my brother bought me jewelry to match – a beautiful necklace and earrings set from the company 1928.

<img class=" wp-image-5338 lazyload" src="" alt="The beautiful necklace and earring set I wore to my prom" width="559" height="420" srcset=" 1440w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w, 510w, 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 559px) 100vw, 559px" /> The beautiful necklace and earring set I wore to my prom

I still have the set, still think it was so sweet of my brother (not to mention what good taste he had!), and still love 1928 jewelry.

One of my other favorites is a pin that belonged to my grandma. We had such a close, loving relationship. As a little girl, I often sat at her vanity table, smelling her perfumes, brushing my hair with her silver hairbrush, and coveting all her jewelry. When she passed away, one of her most special pieces now lives in my jewelry box. That piece is a trumpet pin.

It may not look like anything special, but this pin represents a torrid love affair she had before she settled down and got married. The lucky guy – he was a trumpet player!

<img class=" wp-image-5340 lazyload" src="" alt="My grandmother's trumpet pin (her name was Eileen)" width="577" height="433" srcset=" 1440w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w, 510w, 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 577px) 100vw, 577px" /> My grandmother’s trumpet pin (her name was Eileen)

I’m not the only one who has brooches as family heirlooms. Jackie Kennedy had a beautiful diamond sunburst brooch that she wore in lots of creative ways. And now her daughter Caroline had continued that tradition.

<img class=" wp-image-5347 lazyload" src="" alt="Jackie's, and now Caroline's, diamond sunburst brooch" width="590" height="590" srcset=" 800w, 150w, 300w, 768w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 590px) 100vw, 590px" /> Jackie’s, and now Caroline’s, diamond sunburst brooch

A token from a trip

When I was a young professional, my mom and I took a guided tour of Italy. For both of us, the trip was once-in-a-lifetime! We thought everything was overwhelming and beautiful and confusing and magical. There was no way I wasn’t going to come back home with some jewelry!

<img class=" wp-image-5344 lazyload" src="" alt="My Venetian glass bead necklace" width="551" height="551" srcset=" 1080w, 150w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 551px) 100vw, 551px" /> My Venetian glass bead necklace

From Venice, I have a necklace with their famous glass beads. And from Florence, I have a sumptuous gold bracelet, with rubies, emeralds, and sapphires.

<img class=" wp-image-5345 lazyload" src="" alt="My Italian gold bracelet, with sapphires, emeralds, and rubies" width="438" height="328" srcset=" 1440w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w, 510w, 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 438px) 100vw, 438px" /> My Italian gold bracelet, with sapphires, emeralds, and rubies

Making old jewelry new again

I’m sure it’s no surprise to you all that I am loathe to ever throw out a piece of jewelry. That’s because it’s so easy to update it and customize it. The best thing you can do with jewelry is WEAR it! So many people are worried that if they alter a piece, it’s somehow less special. I’m here to tell you that’s just crazy!!! And there are so many things you can do with an old piece of jewelry. For example:

  1. Love an old brooch but you’re just not someone who wears brooches? Easy! Those can be remade into necklaces or rings. Check out this Etsy shop, where that’s what their specialty is.

  2. Depending on the piece, you could make several smaller pieces from a former large one. For example, the gems in a ring could be turned into earrings, or depending on many there are, earrings with a matching necklace.

  3. You’d be surprised how much difference changing the metal can make. On colored stones especially, switching up the metal can make it seem like you have a completely new piece.

  4. Keep the stones and ditch the rest. Sometimes the setting is damaged or the base metal wasn’t that great to begin with. You can have lots of fun custom designing a whole new piece.

Your heirloom pieces

One of my favorite things is when jewelry is special enough to be passed on through generations of a family. I’d love to hear about some of your favorite pieces! Tell me about them in the comments below.


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