For a jeweller, selling new pieces is a big part of the job. But what happens to the piece once it has left the store? What happens to the piece after it’s been passed on to the next generation?
While people cherished the piece their grandparents gave them, they hardly wore them. Reason: change in tastes and generational mindset. The trend, however, is changing, especially after the pandemic—with a twist. Over the past few months, we are seeing a lot of clients approach us with the demand to make their heirloom pieces more functional. And for a good reason.
Upcycling jewellery is one of the best ways to accentuate your look and simultaneously cherish your family bonds. When an old piece loses it shine or integrity by wear and tear or simply is outdated, the best way to bring it to life is to upcycle it to suit your style.
For a jeweller today, it's amazing to see how individuals have found a way to express themselves by creating a contemporary one-of-a-kind design that has the warmth of the past, and the aesthetic of the future.
Upcycling does have many perks. You can literally create numerous new looks with just a few pieces. Turn necklaces into bracelets, earrings into necklaces, or vice versa. It’s also a great way to take out vintage pieces lying untouched inside lockers and putting them to good use.
Turning old into gold
We have had clients requesting for a full piece transformation, where we use all the original elements—the gems, the metal—and turn them into something new. Some clients want partial transformation, where they take specific stones from an old piece and make something new out of them.
Part of the increase in interest in repurposing old jewellery is social media. With increased conversation around fashion and recycling and upcycling, there's been a shift in the way people look at old jewellery. People want to experiment and reinvent what their family gave them.
Things to remember
If you’re considering upcycling your jewellery for the first time, these are some key things to remember.
Firstly, find a trusted jeweller who specialises in upcycling jeweler, or has the expertise in turning old pieces into new. Not everyone is capable of crafting something unique out of the old, and you don’t want to risk your family heirloom in the process.
Secondly, as a rule of thumb, the functionality of the jewel will be dependent on the size of the stone. We once had a client who brought us a Golconda cut necklace from Paris which she purchased in the 50s. Without losing the integrity of the rare cut pieces, we converted the necklace into three tennis bracelets for her grandchildren. Large stones always hold more value than small stones, so make sure that the original stone is not diminished. If the piece is too big for a bracelet, consider a ring instead.
Thirdly, go hammer and tongs on all metals, as they can be melted, remodelled, reshaped and repolished to your liking.
And lastly, in the process of upcycling you don’t have to repurpose all the gems in one go. Use a few for a necklace, use some for a pair of earrings, or simply keep a few to give to your children, because who knows, they might want to make something new out of the old too.
Umang Gupta is the seventh generation owner of Shri Ram Hari Ram Jewellers, Dariba Kalan.