One important aspect of being a jeweler and appraiser is that oftentimes, one is the “keeper” of the stories. In the case of a custom project, this can mean listening as a client tells me about the family member who gave her (or him) this piece, their memories of the person wearing it, and their own desires for creating something that they will wear with love. It is an honor and a big responsibility to renew something and I take it seriously.
Appraising jewelry that goes back two or three generations is also bearing witness to love and family, while helping the beneficiaries get a sense of where they are in the marketplace should they choose to sell.
Recently, I’ve had two diamond rings come in for an appraisal. The first, is a solitaire ring set with a diamond cut in the late 1800’s, most likely after 1864, when diamond strikes began happening in South Africa. The cutting equipment was not nearly as precise as it is now, so the faceting was a bit blockier than we have come to expect. I won’t go into details about cutting proportions, but suffice it to say, even the best cutters were limited by the available tools.
A good cutter is one who left the “naturals” in place (cutters still do if not too egregious) and these are clearly visible, particularly on the older stones. Much of the early diamond material was yellowish in tone, as is true here. But people from that time did not expect the “four C’s” and shop around for a “triple X”, D color, flawless stone of a very particular carat size. Rather, they appreciated the soft light cast back by these diamonds and size was not as important.
In the last few years, the value of vintage diamonds has risen as the demand for repurposing has grown. Customers are recognizing the beauty and charm of these early stones, as well as the history the stones have seen. I’m working on some pieces now that will use vintage diamonds and I invite you to call the studio at 312-346-2363 if you’d like to explore this together.