What are Modern Heirlooms?
You might have come across the phrase ‘modern heirloom’, as it’s become an oft-used phrase in the world of jewelry.
The term is used to convey the quality of a piece and its potential for personal significance - but what does it actually mean? After all, ‘modern heirloom’ is something of an oxymoron. So let’s take it back to the beginning…
What makes an heirloom?
An heirloom is an object with some kind of value that is passed down through the generations. Jewelry is often a family heirloom, because there is almost always some kind of monetary value as well as personal or symbolic significance.
Heirlooms act as a hand stretching out to the next generation. Your great-grandfather’s gold signet ring or your grandmother’s diamond eternity ring, tangible symbols of the family’s history and story, gifts for the next generation to inherit. They are often worth something, but their value is not solely financial. Their value is in the stories they tell, in the people and the memories they reflect.
So an heirloom is more than just jewelry. An heirloom is not just a ring, it's a wedding band that symbolizes the love that started a family. It’s your great-grandmother's diamond earrings that glittered in your mother’s ears on special occasions. It’s the necklace your father always wore. Heirlooms tie a family’s past and future together. And one of the reasons jewelry pieces make such special heirlooms is that they are almost always imbued with strong memories or reflections of lost loves.
So how can you call something a modern heirloom? The idea behind the phrase is that when you buy a significant piece of jewelry today, you’re investing for the future. You’re buying an heirloom of the future, a new tradition.
Fine jewelry, forever
One of the key qualities of a modern heirloom is quality. For something to be an heirloom it needs to be built to last.
To begin, consider the materials. This means investing in pieces of high-quality gold, silver or platinum. Precious and semi-precious stones, particularly hard ones like diamonds and sapphires, are incredibly durable and should last for generations to come.
It also means thinking about who is crafting your pieces. Quality craftsmanship ensures each stone is securely set, each chain link is perfectly linked, and pieces are finished to the highest possible standard.
This is why at SKYDOG we place such emphasis on the fact that our pieces are hand-crafted. We are artists and jewelers who have trained in our craft to make sure every piece we produce is made to last.
Modern heirlooms are all about thinking about the future, so it’s fitting they also encourage us to think about what kind of future we leave the Earth. Purchasing high-quality pieces that are not going to be discarded is a sustainable and environmentally conscious investment.
A new take on classic
When you consider your family heirlooms, the styling of these antique and vintage pieces is part of their story. The distinctive designs of Victorian, Art Deco, and Mid-Century pieces, for instance, mark their place in history.
So a modern heirloom, then, is unmistakably of this time. We love giving classic pieces - signet rings, wedding bands, diamond pendants - our own contemporary twist. But we never follow fleeting trends, ensuring timeless pieces to wear for decades.
Heirlooms have significance because of what the piece meant to the wearer, perhaps because it was chosen for a special occasion or because it grew in meaning as the years passed.
This makes SKYDOG pieces quintessential modern heirlooms. Definitively of our time and imbued with meaning, they’ll tell your story for years, and generations, to come.
Reinventing your heirlooms
Of course, not all jewelry can be worn forever. What we consider to be beautiful changes constantly and family heirlooms are not always wearable in quality or style. At SKYDOG, we think that this means that there’s another way to understand the term ‘modern heirloom’.
Our Bespoke service means we can take a family heirloom and change it into a wearable design. We often take engagement rings that have been in a family for generations but which perhaps look old-fashioned or don’t fit the lifestyle of the new owner. For example, taking an heirloom diamond and resetting it into a completely new design ensures that the meaning and sentiment are retained but the piece is modernized and ready for wear.
Recently, we had the honor of designing a new set for a client using an heirloom ring from her grandmother. This modern heirloom features the memories of her grandmother in the solitaire stone, within a more contemporary setting and gold metal to suit the client’s personal style.
The joy of our bespoke service is in giving heirlooms a new life - it’s a way to honor the past and symbolize the generations gone before by making something that can be worn every day.
Jewelry links the past and the future, but it should also be enjoyed in the present. These modern heirlooms are everyday manifestations of memories, tangible reflections of those gone before, and present-day celebrations of our own time here on earth.