Since Dr. V. didn't recall the pearl size or necklace length, I was hampered, but said there were three key considerations for anyone's jewelery reno:
1. The condition of the material
Just like a house, a reno project is wise only if the basic material isn't trashed. if the pearls have degraded to the luster of a peeled potato, it's too late.
2. Your taste
If, no matter what you do to them, you would never wear that gem or size, or cut, forget a reno. At the same time don't be shortsighted; even a small tweak can totally change a piece.
2. Your budget
Some renos can be done for $25, others involve thousands. It's worth spending to get it right, and, just like a house, to spend for design as well as materials. Your budget will go farther if you collect ideas of what you like before you begin, via sketches, photos or a Pinterest board.
Over glasses of burgundy, I outlined three ideas that depend on those criteria, following the house-reno analogy.
Option #1: "Wallpaper and paint"
Often, with sentimental gifts, the new owner wants to maintain the integrity of the piece while turning it into something she would wear; a zhuzh at reasonable cost is terrific fun!
Have a jeweler restring (and clean, if needed) the pearls, possibly shortening the two strands to the right length for you. At around 20 to 22 inches, doubles can look staid (depending on your figure); taking off a few inches makes the piece more current and flattering.
Add a new decorative double-strand clasp that complements the retro mood of the piece.
Dr. VO said the pearls were from a German jeweler; I found a flower-motif coral glass and sterling silver clasp from Germany on sale from A Grain of Sand, for only $18.50.
The movie-star vibe of a blue two-strand vintage clasp, $23 from beadtopiavintage, makes me want to buy pearls like Ms. Seattle's just so I can wear it.
An all-metal style would work too, but keep it decorative; the idea is to wear the clasp to the side, so it's seen.
Etsy is a terrific source for clasps and other findings; all Ms Seattle has to do is search "double clasp" in the jewelry findings section.
The vintage silver clasp fits one, two or three strand necklaces; an example of a simpler clasp that still has enough detail; from Etsy seller TheParisCarousel, $17.
To change the clasp (sticking to the price point I've shown) and restring would cost around $50-$80.
Option #2: "Knocking down walls"
Unless she has jewelry-making skills, here is where she calls in a pro.
She could combine the two strands to make one long rope, if the pearls are at least 7mm. (If smaller, a rope will look rather jeune fille but could be worn layered. She could also add one of the cool clasps to the rope.
If the pearls are graduated, Ms. Seattle's rope will be of mixed sizes, so she would add some new, bigger pearls of complimentary colour, because matching isn't gonna happen. (But she could mix whites, creams and biscuit, for example; she does not have to add intense colour.)
I suggested she contact Sarah Canizzaro at Kojima Company, because Sarah has a great eye, a vast array of unique pearls and a team of talented jewelers.
Budget will vary depending on number and type of pearls added; the $250ish range is achievable.
|Bauble bracelet: R. Wolchock|
Like the nook under the stairs that becomes an office, she could make several different pieces from the pearls, such as a multi-strand bracelet and a single-strand necklace.
The bracelet could be classic but informal, like the bauble-charm bracelet at left, or ethnic-cool, like the memory-wire piece with brass beads below.
|Wrap bracelet: Minouc, Etsy|
For a single strand necklace, I have posted ideas here.
There are way pricier renos such as adding a stunning custom-made clasp, or the addition of gem or gold spacer beads—diamond rondelles, anyone? But who wants to over-improve and end up with a huge bill? So I'm not going there in this post.
I'm hoping that Ms. Seattle's project will be like a successful house reno: she'll get something she can live in every day, with joy and a satisfying return on the investment.
What do you think?