Heirloom Jewelry, Passing to the Next Generation

Posted by Mark & Heidi Shilensky on

Heirloom Jewelry, Passing to the Next Generation

Heirloom jewelry informs the market's soon-to-be $480.5 billion value. Antique heirloom jewelry can hold precious stones as well as sentimental meanings.

Family heirloom jewelry's special for many reasons, the first being that it's unique to the family. Treasuring jewels as part of a family legacy only deepens over time.

That said, the perceived significance of heirlooms has changed over time as well. It's important to remember ancestral influence, and heirloom jewelry helps do that. 

The truth is that heirloom jewelry remains more important than ever for honoring family heritage. Here's what to know about the relevance of family heirlooms.

What Is Heirloom Jewelry?

Jewels emit luxury. When coupled with the word heirloom, that luxury's deepened by the sacredness of family lineage. 

The word heirloom suggests passing something down that's been in the family for generations. For that reason, it's easy to associate heirloom jewelry with an ancestor's most precious stones.

While some jewelry does have precious stones, it's important to define what's considered precious. Heirloom jewelry holds different types of value, including:

  • Sentimental value
  • Monetary value
  • Family value

Any of these values is reason enough to pass down a family member's jewelry. That said, it's important to be intentional about when and how the jewelry's presented. If it's given too early in someone's life to receive it, the message can get lost.

While heirloom jewelry can hold any or all three values, identifying them can inform how and when you present the jewelry to your family member.

For example, consider the best time for your family member to receive this gift. That could mean a:

  • Significant birthday
  • Life milestone
  • Formal initiation
  • Family affair
  • After a funeral 

How you present the family heirloom can dictate how they'll continue passing it on in the future. For that reason, it's good to share with them what you know.

Sentimental Value

Much of an heirloom jewelry's value rests in their stories. If you're the receiver of a family member's jewels, be sure they don't skimp on explaining the sentimental value. 

Have you received your grandmother's engagement ring? While that doesn't mean it has to be yours, knowing the story behind the piece helps know how to interact with it.

If your ancestor treasured a necklace but never wore it, maybe you'll do the same. Or, you might want to make a new tradition and start wearing it yourself.

Knowing the sentimental value helps you develop your own sentimental value. Then, once you pass it along, your experience with it will become part of the collective story.

Monetary Value

While family heirloom jewelry's kept in the family, knowing its potential monetary value can help you honor it. Should you wear a $5,000 stone every day or stow it away for safekeeping?

Different things determine monetary value, including:

  • Quality material, as in stainless steel, gold, copper, or brass
  • Precious stones like including amethyst, diamond, ruby, or peridot
  • The condition, if it's tarnished or polished
  • If it's wearable and/or sellable
  • Modern heirloom jewelry versus vintage heirloom jewelry

While the goal's not to sell antique heirloom jewelry, its value depends on whether it could sell. It's easy for these details to get lost over time, so taking it to a jeweler can help you understand its monetary value.

Depending on whether it's modern or vintage also impacts the value. Its styles, stones, materials, and uniqueness will vary.

Modern heirloom jewelry may value symbols and metaphysical meanings, whereas antique heirloom jewelry looks at regions and historical relevance.

Family Value

All families have their own traditions and rituals. Some believe jewelry's meant for wearing, and others may hope you tuck it away. You can even showcase it in a protected case or on an altar.

As a receiver of the jewelry, it's important for you to be aware of how and when it's gifted to you, too. It tells you how formal, informal, personal, or familial the heirloom is. Going forward, you can consider whether you'll honor the same traditions or tweak them with your own family.

Observing the family dynamic with the jewelry can help you learn its determined value.

Heirloom Jewelry's a Family Honor

Material things are profound carriers of history. Heirloom jewelry's not about materialism but valuing family stories. While not all heirlooms are jewel-based, wearing something your ancestor's worn is a sacred experience.

If you have little information about the jewelry except that it's stayed in the family, see it as an opportunity. Receiving jewelry's the perfect time to practice your intuition. Ask yourself:

  • Who wore this piece?
  • How did they wear it?
  • What did they wear it for?
  • How can I best honor this legacy?
  • How can I best relate to this piece?
  • Are there stones I can identify from it?

If you can identify gems or stones, you can integrate their meaning into your experience.

Receiving antique heirloom jewelry—if it's old—can be hard to relate to at first. Don't be afraid to transform your relationship with it by recreating the story a bit.

Remember – your story is important too. Ask yourself how your relationship with the piece can inform the story you tell going forward. 

If you don't have any information about the jewelry, you can still pass it along with intention. Encourage your family member to develop their own relationship with it. Let the jewelry reveal itself to them.

The Endless Gift

People use the phrase put yourself in their shoes as a metaphor, but heirloom jewelry allows you to do exactly that. They let you travel back in time. For that reason, heirloom jewelry that dates back one generation is as valuable as ones dating back ten. 

Heirloom jewelry doesn't have to have precious stones for it to feel precious. Both knowing its story and not knowing its story poses its own mystery. 

If you're looking to start new traditions in your family, consider which of your own jewels you'd pass along. There's nothing like a daughter receiving her mother's jewels.

Shop our collection today to see which new gift will keep gifting your family for generations to come!