THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON, GIVE A GIFT THAT WILL LAST GENERATIONS, WRITES TALLULAH RUSHAYA
The story behind that sapphire necklace or gold ring is a symbol of giving that contributes to the fabric of a family and can signify the beginnings of a new one. Every heirloom started their journey as a new creation. With the evolution of design and meaning, jewellery designers are offering myriad options for future heirlooms. Whether wishing to redesign an old family jewel, design a wholly bespoke piece or simply find something new, this Christmas is the start of a new chapter.
At Burlington Arcade-based Lily Gabriella, designs are inspired by the wonders of architecture. The collector’s edition illustrates the versatility of shape, using materials such as titanium, pink sapphire, and aquamarine, which can be tailored to any colourway. Lily cites clients being drawn to the Talisman collection, which can be customised. Known for protective amulets, Lily has seen mothers and daughters choose amulets to match during appointments. And when it comes to her bespoke creations, Lily gifts clients a hand-drawn sketch of the design to keep, a nod to her fine-art training.
Ananya Malhotra, founder of the eponymous Ananya similarly has a symbolistic approach. For those new to the world of crystals, who can’t yet differentiate citrine from yellow aventurine, her advice? Listen to your intuition. “We tend to see primary colours gain popularity around this time, for example, gemstones such as ruby, malachite and lapis lazuli,” she says.
“Our diamond baguette chakra tennis bracelets work well for clients looking for a more classic piece. Every gemstone has its own qualities and can fit what someone seeks to achieve for the new year.”
At Seven Kings Studio’s, double studs are often commissioned with the birthstones of mother and baby, notes founder Stephanie O’Grady, who also receives requests for dates, names, and messages to be engraved.
Based in Liberty London, Atelier VM’s L’Essenziale and the Impronta collection, founders Marta Caffarelli and Viola Naj Oleari, notes as future heirlooms. “The idea is that customer is directly involved in the creation of their jewellery. It is the most emotional part of each of us that participates and that dictates the value and meaning of each creation,” they say. For L’Essenziale collection, charms can be added, further enhancing personalisation, ranging from the Coccinella charm for good luck to the Letterina charm which can be for family. The Impronta collection takes the fingerprint of the wearer, transforming it into wearable art.
Designed with care
Despite varying inspirations for designers, how jewellery is worn by people has become more individualised. Specialising in unusual stones, Kiki McDonough has noticed the growing popularity of pink opals. “We see daughters who have been given Kiki pieces by their mothers and are building their own collection around that,” explains Kiki, whose new range, Special Editions, features detachable earrings. “You can buy the hoops and one pair of drops then get another pair of drops the following year.”
Being open to a variety of metals and stones creates a collection that can stand the test of time, Robert ‘Bobby’ Leigh-Pemberton, dealer at Humphrey Butler advises. Treat it as an ‘emotional investment’ and buy what you like. Designs from the Victorian era using amethysts, topaz and garnets can be overlooked, with demantoid garnets rarer and at times more valuable than diamonds. “Some who buy jewellery as a gift, fail to understand that jewels, particularly important antique pieces that are likely to become future ‘heirlooms’, often have a personal value beyond just being, for instance, a pair of earrings,” he says.
With festive cheer all around, Christmas is a popular time to propose. The modern engagement ring, designed by Tiffany founder Charles Tiffany, has become a blueprint. While some may prefer an element of surprise, jewellery consultant and stylist Beanie Major, founder of In Detail has noticed more couples buying together.
London-based designer Rachel Boston, encourages couples to design the ring together. A common request is ‘classic with a twist’. “If the person the ring is for has direct input in its creation, you’ll usually end up with a bolder, more original piece without having risked it not being to their taste.”
However, Rachel suggests some detective work if still planning a surprise, via noting favoured colours and shapes. She also says that those with an active lifestyle may benefit from a rub-over setting, rather than a dainty claw setting. Lucy Crowther, founder of Minka Jewels adds that rub-over settings protect gems from all angles.
When designing bespoke, above all the most important factor is time. “Timing is everything. It can take three to four weeks to produce a ring for example, so last-minute shopping isn’t an option,” advises Susannah Lovis, managing director of the London jeweller. Able to help with even the most complex requests, half their work is bespoke. With a collection of almost 2,500 pieces, most customers purchase with the intention of passing on.
“The bond between the recipient and the wearer lasts a lifetime when ordering bespoke gifts,” says Sadhbh Roux-Fouillet, creative director of Anoona Jewels. Key life moments have been experienced by the first generation in their bespoke cufflinks, and are able to be passed down to men and women.
Passing on time
Reflecting upon time, the fine art of horology as an heirloom can also honour past traditions. Bucherer this year unveiled the Heritage Chronometer, a collection of 17 styles of limited-edition retro-revival timepieces, evoking the spirit of the 1960s. At Patek Philippe, the Calatrava model is a display of artisanal refinement, with dual time zone.
Also continuing to fuse heritage with the future is Fabergé, famed for its exemplary craftsmanship. “‘A life in colour’ is our motto, and therefore, colour and coloured gemstones are the central components of Fabergé, then (pre-1917) and now,” explains Josina von dem Bussche-Kessell, creative director at Fabergé who continues to see the desire for bespoke and personalised jewellery. “Whether you’re honouring a decade-long family tradition or starting one yourself, heirlooms are symbolic of the legacy our lineages leave behind, and a watch is something to treasure across a multitude of lifetimes.”
Q&A, John Calleija, founder of Calleija
Which Calleija pieces would you cite as ‘future heirlooms’?
Argyle Pink DiamondsTM definitely fit the heirloom category; they have become even more coveted since the closure of the world- famous Argyle Mine in 2020. Over the years we’ve seen these rare and highly collectable diamonds gifted for milestone birthdays and anniversaries, with the intention that they will be passed down for generations to come. Of course, engagement rings are traditionally considered heirlooms, being passed from parent to child. With the Calleija Engagement Collection, the extra special touch of featuring a hidden Australian Argyle Pink DiamondTM under the setting adds to the uniqueness of the ring.
How do you advise clients on bespoke creations?
Creating bespoke jewellery is an organic process that differs for each individual. Sometimes, clients bring in heirloom pieces with sentimental value, like their great-grandmother’s engagement ring, and request it to be redesigned into something else, such as a pendant. The key to success in advising clients on these unique creations is fostering a sense of trust and collaboration. By involving clients at every stage of the design process and providing them with the knowledge and support they need, we can bring their vision to life. This approach results in a one-of-a-kind piece that’s deeply meaningful and reflective of their individual style and story. It’s a privilege to be a part of this creative journey and to see the joy that these personalised pieces bring.
What has been your most interesting commission?
It would have to be Argyle BohemeTM, a one-carat red diamond from the final Argyle Pink Diamonds Signature TenderTM. It’s one of the rarest, most coveted diamonds in the world. The owner entrusted us to design and craft a beautiful jewellery creation that would be celebrated for generations to come.
Have you noticed any client buying trends?
In the realm of luxury jewellery, there has been a discernible shift in consumer behaviour. More clients are looking for ways to make their jewellery more unique and meaningful, which has led to increasing demand for bespoke pieces at Calleija. This surge in interest in custom-designed jewellery is, in our view, a reaction to the market’s oversaturation with generic, mass-produced designs that fail to resonate with individuals or embrace originality. Another trend we’ve noticed is couples choosing to be actively involved in the design and selection of engagement rings together.
This collaborative approach allows them to create a piece that not only symbolises their commitment, but also reflects their own tastes and preferences. Additionally, we’ve seen mothers and daughters showing a growing interest in buying matching jewellery pieces. This trend underscores the desire for meaningful connections and the value of shared experiences. Matching jewellery is a symbol of the bond between generations and can be cherished and passed on as heirlooms.
View the Argyle Pink DiamondTM collection at Calleija’s London boutique in The Royal Arcade on Old Bond Street, calleija.com
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