Redesigned diamonds: From passé to chic

This summer, I met the knowledgeable and passionate gem dealer, Martine Lavoie, founder of Pierres de Charme,  who sells coloured stones of mouthwatering hues.

Though much of her business is to the trade, Martine also handles repairs and will serve individual customers by appointment.

Black opal pair

When visiting her showroom I can barely talk with her, because my eyes wander (despite trying to focus) to trays strewn with nature's most alluring gifts, from emeralds to paraïba tourmalines to flashing black opals.

Besides a love of gems (Martine is a gemmologist), we share an interest in jewelry restyling projects. Martine has an extensive network, and enjoys introducing clients to jewelers who can create stunning new designs from unworn or dated pieces.  She glowed as she described the goldsmith who was able to make an exact duplicate of an ornate antique family ring, using refined skills possessed by a dwindling number of artisans.

When she showed me one particular example, I asked her permission to share it here.

The original ring: A 1970s gold and diamond design with a large centre stone and smaller diamonds scattered among busy petals.

Original '70s design
Martine has a talent for matching artisans and clients. For this project, she suggested Montréal jeweler Annik Lucier, and then followed the process from start to finish to make sure every detail was perfect.

The new ring: Black diamonds join the original stones; the fussy flower was transformed into a sleek modern style, tailored yet sensuous. The client preferred the discretion of white gold, which focuses attention on the stones.

Black and white diamonds

On the client's hand, with just the edge of her red manicure showing. She wears her ring every day.

Current and chic

Jewelry renos are much like home renos: you need to trust the professionals with whom you're working, set a budget, spend where it shows, and communicate every step of the way. Just like a home project, collect your favourite ideas on a Pinterest or idea board, but also be open to the designer, who will bring a fresh vision.

If you have a dream stone in mind, contact Martine; she travels the world, and can accommodate requests from modest to major. Thanks to email and Skype, no matter where you live, she can help to transform an unworn piece into your new signature.

My Toronto jeweler, Pam Chandler of Artworks Gallery, introduced us. "She is wonderful", Pam said... and so she is.


une femme said…
Wow, that re-designed ring is FABULOUS! Sometimes I think you really have to see jewelry worn to get a full appreciation of the look and scale.
LauraH said…
What an amazing transformation. Your visit to the showroom sounds like a lot of fun..Aladdin's cave!
Mardel said…
Gorgeous redesign!
LPC said…
Such a shift! Beautifully done!
The redesign is so much more wearable...for everyday.
It's quite a stunner too!
Kirsten Giving said…
Dazzling Diamonds and oh, so wearable. So many have diamonds but they could have DIAMONDS! I would love to visit Montreal some day, again (the last visit when I was a teenager) and visit all those lovely jewelry stores along your favorite roads! In the meantime, thanks for this beautiful post. Kirsten
Jane in London said…
A fabulous ring! I love your jewellery posts - thank you for sharing.

Eleanorjane said…
Ooh, I prefer the 70's original! Seems a shame to destroy all that craftmanship. It another few decades, it'll be a historical piece. It's huge and gaudy, but rather gorgeous.

The other one is much more wearable for daily use and I guess if it makes the owner happy then that's the main thing.
Duchesse said…
Eleanorjane: A mature woman has has to be careful about wearing dated jewelry, it takes a particular type and you have to have the whole surround.

Although it may be in the antique category in another few decades, if the owner would not wear the style today, why park it years, unworn? I only advise against restyling if the original has noteworthy provenance (e.g., owned by Marlene Dietrich and you can prove it) or was made by a renowned house like Cartier.

I do not know if the original setting was saved; that's another option: replace the diamonds with other less-costly gems and sell or give it to someone who like you, admires its huge gaudiness.

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