2019 Finale: Janet's jewels

Janet, a newly-retired educator, had a number of precious pieces from her dear mother-in-law's estate—as well as some gifts from her husband—that sat unworn.

Her life made them feel like the wrong style, or "too much". She likes simple, modern design, and said, "I rarely wear anything but inexpensive, colourful, light costume stuff; I wonder if that's from my line of work? One has to be practical and seem unpretentious—and students of all ages like a bit of sartorial theatre."

I agree that the workplace is a kind of theatre; retirement makes one think about what really satisfies—not what is appropriate or supports a professional image.

She and her husband recently returned from over twenty years in Europe to live in Ontario. When he suggested that she try to wear the jewellery instead of it sitting in a drawer or getting lost, she contacted me for references for Montréal jewellers.

She chose Michèle Côté, co-founder and head designer of Flamme en Rose; Janet liked the shop's style, and that she would be dealing with a business owned by women. They offer free estimates for any project.

The original pieces

Left: Janet's mother-in-law's 1.85 ct diamond solitaire.
Right: Two vintage cluster rings: diamond and sapphire, and diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire.
Janet used part of the material to make the rings below, and gave other stones to her daughter and other family members.

Stackable sapphires

The bezeled solitaire rings below, gifts to a niece and grand-daughter, are small enough to stack or can stand on their own.

Left: Sapphire on a tapered shank
Right: Sapphire with diamond baguettes

Vintage cluster rings and pendants were typically an extravaganza of prong-setting. Several settings instantly modernize vintage gems: the bezel, and the flush mount (also known as a "gypsy setting").

The diamond solitaire, transformed

Below, illustration: the jeweller's rendering

Bottom row, left to right: three views of the finished diamond ring. Note how the bands are not just round; rather, they are sculpted oval curves with depth. The mixed colours of gold (and platinum for the bezel) make the ring more casual, as do the contrasting brushed and polished surfaces.

Every detail has been deliberately thought-out. (This is the benefit of dealing with a skilled jeweller who will make a custom setting, rather than plunking the stone into a manufactured one.)

From her stash bag: unusual diamond drops

Left: Janet also had earrings that she wasn't wearing, including diamonds from her husband.

Left, Michèle's sketch of the new design: a pair of two-part earrings—composed of a stud and a detachable drop—which she can mix or match.

The jeweller made a model first, to check for proportion and overall effect.

Below, three shots of the finished drop earring:
Left: The double-diamond pair; one diamond is bezeled in white gold, the other in yellow.

Upper right: Janet wears the double diamonds.

Bottom right: The drop part paired with her princess-cut aquamarine studs, which she enjoys wearing in summer.

This is a versatile design that you might adapt to any two stones that are the right proportions.

Michèle calls the earrings "Two Solitudes", a reference to writer Hugh McLennan's 1945 novel of that name, which includes his description of the linguistic gulf between francophones and anglophones in Canada. Janet's current version shows fluent communication and harmony between the two sparkling elements.

Janet has made a major move on many fronts, and sometimes that's what it takes to get the stuff out of the box. Some women prefer to leave pieces in their original form, what I call The Museum Approach—that's another way to live with vintage or antique jewellery.

But wearing forty or fifty year-old jewellery "as is" often feels dated, like using a lorgnette. Also, old stones, though durable, dull from micro-abrasions and scratches. Look how those sapphires sparkle when re-polished!

If no one wears the museum pieces, why not let the love remain, and the setting change? That way, they join your life on your hand or ears as well as in your heart.

Snowflake diamond and pearl pin
Ruby Lane
Speaking of love, time to shutter for a few weeks 
to spend time with dear ones.  
Have a sparkling holiday! 
The Passage will re-open
Tuesday, January 7, 2020.



Jen Lawrence said…
That's beautiful. I only ever wear the same pieces but have some jewels from relatives I should consider getting remade at some point. And I have some things I never wear any more that could be modernized to suit my daughter. I love this as inspiration. Happy holidays!
The earrings are really pretty and I like the dangling addition which makes them very dressy and versatile!
Best wishes to you for a lovely festive season.
LauraH said…
What fabulous reno! Thanks to you and Janet for sharing this journey. From my own experience, a decision to remodel family jewellery is not an easy one. I believe Janet will feel great satisfaction when she wears these pieces, often I hope.

Have an enjoyable holiday season, see you in January:-)
What a wonderful, inspirational post. Janet has amazing jewellery to start with and ended up with beautiful, wearable, wantable pieces. I particularly like the technical drawings. The result is superb.
Laura J said…
Have a lovely holiday,!
Jean Shaw said…
These are fantastic renos. How wonderful to get them out of the box and into the light.
Adele said…
Totally fabulous! I especially love the diamond ring and drop earrings.
Francie Newcomb said…
Love this! Merry Christmas!
Flamme en rose said…
Thank you Kathleen for this beautiful post! We had such a good moment with Janet and it was a real pleasure to restyle her jewels!
Mardel said…
Nice renos. Fabulous way to close the year. Enjoy.

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