“Wearing a piece of heirloom jewelry feels special. This locket connects me to my roots and reminds me of life’s most important things. It’s exciting to imagine my own daughter wearing it a few decades from now.”
Betsy was excited to have one of her favorite family jewelry pieces deep cleaned and updated for a burst of new life.
Betsy’s locket was passed down to her recently by her mother from that side of her family. The locket first belonged to her great grandmother Mildred.
On the outside, the gold heirloom locket has Grandma Mildred’s maiden monogram engraved in a beautiful script: MHJ (for Mildred Hadley Jones).
- Fun fact: Back in the early 1900s, monograms were done in name order (as in first initial, middle and then last) rather than the first LAST middle that we see commonly today
This heirloom locket spares no detail! The reverse side carries a lovely and intricate floral engraving.
It’s what I like to call “A second locket look.”
But, like all good things, it’s what’s inside this heirloom locket that matters most. Open it up and you’ll find two old photographs. And the sepia tones give us all the nostalgic feels!
One photo is of Grandma Mildred’s husband, Betsy’s great grandfather Edward Tucker. While he is pictured in his WWI Army uniform, I was excited to learn that he was also a fellow artist! After his military service, he and Mildred moved to Washington DC where he worked as an illustrator for the Department of Agriculture. He also did some freelance commercial poster art on the side.
The second photo is of Betsy’s grandfather, Kenneth Tucker in his WWII Coast Guard uniform. Grandpa Tuck lived with Betsy and her family from the time she was ten years old until he passed away 13 years later.
“It was an amazing addition to my childhood to have my Grandpa right next door in an in-laws suite. There were lots of trips to the snowball stand in his pickup truck and sneaking treats and certain TV shows. Lots of monopoly games. It really is one of my most treasured childhood things. So, being able to carry his memory with me by wearing this heirloom locket is a true gift.”
Originally, the locket was on a shorter, thicker chain. It fit the piece well, but Betsy wanted something a little updated.
- Her vision was a longer chain so that the locket would hit right below the ribcage.
- And, we decided a more delicate gold filled rope chain would enhance the look.
- As a bonus, Betsy is now able to pass the original gold chain along to her sister
so they can each have a piece of this heirloom to hold on to.
“Ali had this piece ready for me just before we jet-setted off to Portugal, Spain, and Myrtle Beach. It is exactly what I had dreamed of. So easy to dress up or down and a great conversation started. I loved carrying a piece of my family history with me as we’re creating our new family memories. I think everyone should treasure, preserve and create family heirlooms!”
How I created a custom necklace to reflect the personal brand of C&V’s Illiah Manger
C&V is the name of Illiah’s brand design business.
If you followed along with the J’Adorn Designs rebrand last fall, you may recognize her name. Illiah is the mastermind who translated my vision & values into the public face of J’Adorn. You may also recognize her from my Instagram Stories, where I often share pictures from our co-working dates!
The official colors of Illiah’s brand are white, black, and copper/rose gold.
So when we began designing her custom brand necklace, I knew that these colors had to be at the forefront.
I chose rose gold as the fine metal base for Illiah’s custom necklace. In addition to matching her brand’s colors, solid rose gold is both durable and lustrous.
Fun fact: rose gold actually has stronger properties than yellow or white gold from the copper that’s added to give it that pink hue!
For the engraving on the nameplate of the necklace, I used the exact font and layout of C&V’s logo and filled it in with black for extra contrast.
Lastly, I added a tiny black spinel gem at the bottom right corner as a sparkling accent! (I like to think it represents the strength and shining depths that I see in C&V and in Illiah herself.)
C&V are also the initials of Illiah’s two daughters, whom she lovingly calls “the muses.”
Illiah is one of those amazing women who simultaneously runs a powerhouse business while raising her children. Even more impressively, she’s continued to do so during a transition to single parenthood.
Illiah’s transition to single parenthood was the catalyst for my creating her custom necklace.
It will eventually grow into a three-layered masterpiece, which I’m making one layer at a time. I can’t wait to make the next two layers!
Making this custom necklace for Illiah opened my eyes to a part of my craft that I’d never recognized before.
I learned that jewelry can honor life’s important moments, even when they don’t start as celebrations.
The end of Illiah’s marriage was anything but positive, but it marked a turning point for her. And from that nexus, she’s grown into a more confident and determined woman, both in business and in parenthood.
Illiah’s custom necklace is a talisman representing that turning point and all the growth that is yet to come.
All photos by Elisenda Llinares Photography
The sterling silver family tree branch necklace that I made for Abby is really special.
It’s one part anniversary gift, one part push present. And it’s so full of meaning that I just keep counting the big moments represented by its gemstones.
Five years of marriage.
Three colors, each representing a month.
One beautiful, growing family.
Like all of my custom jewelry designs, this branch necklace started with a message.
Abby’s husband Josh reached out with a general idea for a big surprise. He told me that he and Abby were about to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary and welcome their second child, all in the same month!
Josh wanted to give her a special gift to commemorate this time in their life together.
And since Abby still loves to wear the custom jewelry set that I made for her wedding, he knew she would love to have another piece of J’Adorn Designs jewelry to add to her collection!
I suggested the concept of a family tree branch necklace to symbolize their growing family, and Josh loved the idea!
Next, we selected materials, including the colors and shapes of the gemstones that would be set along the branch.
We needed to represent the months of June, August, and December in a color palette that was both complementary and Abby’s taste.
Josh and I didn’t think like the traditional stones of peridot or pearl for this piece.
So, we replaced them with two alternative birthstones for June and August: pink spinel and alexandrite!
With all the materials selected, I got to work creating the family tree branch necklace out of sterling silver!
I used a combination of sheet metal and wire to form the basic shape of the tree branch. Then, I perfected the piece with some engraving and polishing – all by hand, of course! Finally, I set the stones in their new homes.
The double-prong settings are one of my favorite little details in this piece because they mimic the look of berries or twigs that would occur naturally on a tree branch.
I think Abby’s smile says it all! But just in case you’re not convinced, here is what she had to say:
“Thank you for being so secretive and creative with Josh! I absolutely love it and was super surprised…The setting and stones are beautiful!”
Ally had a specific vision for her bridal accessories but couldn’t find it in any store. So, she called on us to create her custom floral hairpins!
J’Adorn bride Ally wears a lot of hats.
She’s an engineer, a fitness instructor, and a graduate student to name just a few of the roles she fills.
When it came to her bridal headwear, she knew exactly what she wanted.
But after searching high and low for those hair accessories in stores, she couldn’t find them.
With Jamie’s referral, Ally reached out to me a few months before her wedding to ask if I could help bring her vision to life.
She wanted two very small floral hairpins with minimal embellishments, no wider than one inch per pin.
It was a very specific request that I embraced as a design challenge! And after two rounds of design revisions, Ally and I decided on the perfect custom floral hairpins design for her walk down the aisle.
To make Ally’s custom bridal hairpins, I used a combination of paper millinery flowers, freshwater pearls, and Swarovski crystals in my signature hand-wired sprout formation.
With a golden leaf and beaded ivory flower as accents, each pin represented delicate simplicity at its finest.
Ally was thrilled with the results of her custom floral hairpins.
She raved, “I love them so much!”
From the father-daughter dance until the last kiss of the night, Ally’s custom floral hairpins were the perfect accent to her half-up bridal hairstyle.
Wedding photos by Kate Dixon // Product photos by Nichole Meredith
See how I took a loose heirloom sapphire and turned it into a wearable ring to honor a family’s legacy of love!
One of my favorite parts of working as a custom jeweler is the opportunity to create heirloom jewelry that will be cherished for years to come.
One way I do this is by creating brand new jewelry from scratch to honor special moments and milestones, such as the arrival of a new child.
Another way is by giving new life to old jewelry that has already been part of a family’s history. This is how I met Lindsay and got the opportunity to work with her unset heirloom sapphire.
Lindsay explained that she inherited an oval cut sapphire from her grandmother. She loved the stone but it sat hidden away for years. This was because it was unwearable without a piece of jewelry to give it a home.
Other jewelers refused to set this heirloom sapphire due to a small chip. But I knew I was up for the challenge. And after hearing about how special this stone was to Lindsay’s family, I just had to set it in a custom ring!
Setting the stone proved to be a challenge. But with a lot of concentration, patience, and detailed workmanship, I was finally able to create the heirloom sapphire ring of Lindsay’s dreams!
There were two elements that were the most important when I designed this custom ring:
Lindsay told me that the ring for her heirloom sapphire had to be delicate. She wanted a very thin band so she could wear it comfortably every day.
I wanted to honor the continuing legacy of Lindsay’s family in a visibly tangible way.
I used my design expertise to pick the perfect setting for Lindsay’s heirloom sapphire. I created a ring with a thin sterling silver band and simple four-prong setting. Under the setting was a silver infinity symbol.
I represented the ongoing love and legacy of Lindsay’s family with this silver infinity symbol. It was part of the setting, directly attached to the heirloom sapphire from her grandmother.
At the final reveal, Lindsay told me that she loved her new ring. She said that couldn’t wait to show her grandmother the new home for her heirloom sapphire! This is just about the greatest compliment that a custom jeweler can receive.
What about you? Do you have an old heirloom stone or outdated piece of jewelry that’s dying for a refresh?
Send me a message to begin work on your own custom jewelry design!