Some of my favorite and most inspired pieces are redesigns of my clients’ heirloom jewelry. More often than not, my clients ask me to take multiple pieces and reimagine into one, brand-new creation. Here is an in-depth look at an heirloom redesign just like that: my client, Whitney, had two rings and a pendant that we developed into the Regal Rosey Trio, a triple stacked ring set in sterling silver with 14K rose gold accents and 31 family diamonds. Yes, 31! As you can see, the final result is stunning, but let’s dive into all the planning and work that went into this beauty.
Whitney came to me with three pieces for the redesign. One was a 25th wedding anniversary ring that her grandfather gave to her grandmother. Upon inspection of this gold and diamond floral-design ring, it was clear that although the diamonds were in beautiful condition, the prongs were too worn, putting the piece at risk of losing diamonds.
Second was a gold and diamond band given to her mother from her father as a 10th wedding anniversary gift. Out of the 20 diamonds on this band, we were able to use 18 of them, with only 2 that were not salvageable, which is pretty amazing. And finally, the diamond pendant, which had already been reset from her mother’s original engagement ring, was given to Whitney by her parents, and she never wore it.
Whitney wanted something completely unique and different, but she was having a hard time explaining what she was looking for. When she viewed another redesign on my website that I had completed earlier this year, Magnificent Marquise Ring Redesign, she was able to put words to her thoughts. She loved the East-West orientation of the marquise in that design, and she loved the idea of doing something to showcase her diamonds using my signature wavy texture and two-toned metal combination. This immediately became the inspiration for Whitney’s Regal Rosey Trio.
An interesting personal story about the stones: Whitney wanted to keep the diamonds from her mother separate from the diamonds from her grandmother. Apparently, the two women (mother-in-law and daughter-in-law) did not get along very well, so keeping the stones apart was a way for Whitney to respect the relationship between her mom and grandma. Stories and connections like this are always important for me, as the designer of these heirloom redesigns, to know so I can consider as I plan out and work on each piece. The intricacy is in the details!
I now knew the backstory of the original pieces along with Whitney’s style. As a travel guru, Whitney has been all over the world. She is an outdoorsy, nature-loving woman, so it made sense when she mentioned being drawn to Middle Eastern/Indian arabesque, fan, plume, and feathery patterns. In addition, her favorite material is rose gold, so I knew I had to incorporate that in her trio.
It only took two hand drawn sketches to finalize the design and have it approved by Whitney. This process can sometimes be lengthy, but because I’ve worked with Whitney in the past, and she had the Magnificent Marquise Ring Redesign in mind, the sketching process was quick and fun! We had a FaceTime call to coordinate a few final details, and then it was off to the races, so to speak.
The first step was to take everything apart and separate the diamonds into groups based on what I needed for each ring. Jumping right in, I created the first two sterling silver bands and shaped them into the desired style and form. On each one, I marked where the diamonds would be placed using a Sharpie, my most versatile tool in the studio. For the marquise ring, I did need to purchase a setting from a jewelry supplier, which helped complete the project with ease and more affordably. I now had all my materials ready and organized, which is key to a successful process.
I traded in Whitney's 14K yellow gold for the 14K rose gold to be used as accents, making this project partially recycled to my delight! I took all the gold bits and melted them into what I call “granules.” I attached the granules onto the bands, resulting in a super crusty and dirty looking piece. Fear not, the rawness and roughness is part of the journey to make it all happen! After many rounds of cleaning later, the bands were looking more defined and shiny. I needed to build the first two bands at the same time since they nestle together. Then, once those bands stacked well, I added the marquise portion to the second band and was able to start on the third, shadow band to the marquise. I’ve found that when working on a multiple-part set, planning the order of completion is extremely important to make sure everything flows efficiently and smoothly!
Next, it was time to start the setting process. Because of the natural and organic design of the trio, the multiple sized diamonds from the original pieces effortlessly fit together and looked as if they had always belonged together. I set the big marquise first because I didn’t want to set all the little stones around it and risk having the marquise fail at the end. That’s usually my problem solving process: which is the hardest part and which is the part I need to tackle first to make sure it works before doing a whole bunch of other work? And the marquise set so beautifully! (Marquise stones can be tricky to set even though I do this often. I always get little flurries in my stomach when I prepare to set one in a bezel!)
Finally, I set the remainder of the smaller diamonds on the marquise ring along with the diamonds on the other two bands. I carefully allocated the diamonds among the three rings to ensure I used them all. I cleaned and polished the rings throughout the setting process, always checking the fit each time since cleaning and polishing do tend to shift fit and shape just a bit.
The pop of 14K rose gold against the sterling silver is magnificent. The two largest diamonds are asymmetrically balanced to create a sense of movement and flow, accented by the “whooshing” radial fan-look (as Whitney calls it) around the marquise diamond. I find that setting diamonds in platinum or karat gold really helps them to sparkle and shine, while the sterling silver bands are economically conservative, yet beautiful.
The best part of this trio is the versatility: Whitney can wear just one at a time, two at a time, or change the order of the three. Whatever configuration she wants, they will work seamlessly with her active, on-the-go lifestyle - something I always consider for every client I work with. The trio accomplished the organic, handcrafted look that Whitney wanted. She was thrilled when she unboxed the rings and got to experience the process through the photos I included in the package. And in return, I am overjoyed that my client and I worked together to create something so feminine yet bold and artistic!