Earring reno: Emeralds, in three times

(I mistakenly published this post earlier, before the final product was made, so am re-posting it today.)

Every now and then a jewelry reno project forms in my mind. This incubation stage is essential, as I consider my criteria and the wisdom of investing in custom work versus selling the item.

Actually, the pair of earrings I wanted to work with was itself a reno. When we decided to marry, in the mid-'80s, Le Duc gave me an emerald stud earring instead of a ring. That was the Madonna/Flashdance/punk era when a single earring was in vogue. 

You can just make it out on my ear, at a wedding-rehearsal dinner at Le Duc's parents' home, August, 1986:

The first earring, 1986
About a decade later, when that look was passé as frosted-blue eyeshadow, he gave me a second matching emerald, and added small diamonds and large baroque freshwater pearls to make dramatic dangles. I did not photograph that pair, so I've made a drawing:

The second pair, ca. 1995

I wore those for about 15 years; however, they now felt too formal, and languished during the time I've lived in Montréal. But the emeralds are as sentimental as my wedding ring, and I longed to wear them. But every time I put them on, I felt they were wrong. Le Duc said, "Well, you know who to call."

I sent them to our longtime jewelers (who had made the second pair), Pam Chandler and Don Collins of Artwork Gallery, Toronto, with a few requests: no additional stones or change of metal (alternatives that would drive up the price), simple enough to wear with jeans, but with enough presence to go dressier.

They had many ideas, but most intriguingly, suggested making two pairs of earrings, one from the pearls and diamonds, another using the emeralds. 

The decision of whether the diamond/pearl pair should have two or three links consumed a half-hour of discussion. And that's what you want from a jeweler. If you get a perfunctory "Sure lady, leave them with us", flee!

I rounded up some old gold jewelry, which we applied to the cost of the new gold.

Below, a photo taken in the design phase; you see one finished diamond/pearl dangle at left and at right, the partially-finished new emerald earring with its quatrefoil in the wax stage.

In progress, February 2014

The finished emerald pair on my ear:

Finished new pair, May 2014

So, nearly thirty years later, those emeralds have led three lives, thanks to the quality of the material and masterful artisans. 

The evening in 1927 when playwright Charlie MacArthur and actress Helen Hayes met, he poured some salted peanuts into her hand and said, "I wish they were emeralds"; love at first sight for both. Many years later, on an anniversary, he poured emeralds into her hand and said, "I wish they were peanuts". 

I relate to his words; these emeralds are the symbol of both new and enduring love, and infinitely more than the jewels, I treasure the man who gave them to me.


une femme said…
The new designs are fabulous, and just laid-back enough!
une femme said…
Adding to my comment, the finished design is FANTASTIC! The gold really makes the emerald pop.
Anonymous said…
Both pairs are gorgeous! May you enjoy them for many years to come!
Your earrings have taken on a new life with this design...I can see these worn with many outfits from jeans to a dress....even paired with your Hermes scarves.
Enjoy this calorie free treat!
materfamilias said…
A wonderful story -- and the new earrings are really gorgeous! How satisfying this whole process must have been with you seeing an idea through to beautiful fruition. Enjoy!
Anonymous said…
I have always loved, and often quoted, that emeralds/peanuts story--so perfectly expressive of romantic love's natural cycle (for the lucky, anyway.) Your new earrings are beautifully designed, and the bonus pair, too. As for that picture of you and le Duc, young and tender: adorable!

Gayle said…
Oh both are just beautiful!
Makes me want to pierce my ears!
What a lovely story!

Talented and creative jewellers as well.
fmcgmccllc said…
What beautiful earrings, I love hearing stories of people's jewelry.
sisty said…
What a great idea! Those earrings are beautiful, both pairs.

I'm coming up on my 30th anniversary this summer and have been thinking of redoing my non-traditional engagement ring. I don't have a relationship with a jeweler, but you've inspired me to start looking for one!
diverchic said…
Lovely, lovely! And that photo of you two is perfect.
Eleanorjane said…
I hadn't seen this post before - gorgeous stuff! I love both of them, but particularly the pearl and diamond drops.

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