Jewelry has a history of being remade over and over again. From the crown jewels of England to the simplest ordinary ring, jewelry serves its purpose by being remade into styles that match the trends of the current era. It is said that the 21st century will bring about a society that is oriented toward circulation, but jewelry has already been oriented toward circulation for several centuries. This is because gemstones are expensive, rare, and most importantly, attractive. Over the ages much time and wisdom has been spent trying to maximize their beauty.

The relationship between gemstones and precious metals is similar to that between land and buildings, respectively. Just as there is no such thing as “used” land, there are no “used” gemstones. Buildings may be repaired over and over as they are used for 100 years or more, or they may be demolished after several decades to make way for new structures. Jewelry is also used for a period of time- sometimes over 100 years- or it may be disassembled after several decades and remade into a new style. This is not repairing (reforming), but a total remaking (remodeling). Jewelry that is used for over 100 years is called “antique” jewelry.

If a gemstone is slightly damaged it will be repolished, a procedure that corresponds to the leveling of land in preparation for construction. A portion of remodeled jewelry is privately owned, while many other pieces recirculate to jewelers who repolish the gemstones to recapture their brilliance, remake them, and sell them as new. Other than for especially unusual gemstones, we go about enjoying the beautiful brilliance of gemstones without giving thought to who may have previously owned them.

There are pieces of jewelry that are suited to remaking and those that are not. Jewelry containing beautiful gemstones that no longer match our personal style, or pieces that have an uninspired make, are candidates for remaking. Just as with clothing, it is natural for a style that was once a favorite to fall into disuse as times change. An engagement ring with a 4-to 5-millimeter (0.23-to 0.47-carat) diamond will become less satisfying as one matures. Remodeling it into a ring or pendant as shown on the facing page will make it a more wearable piece, one in which the symbol of eternal love will continue to shine from the center. An otherwise fine piece of jewelry that no longer fits your finger or neck size should not be remodeled, but simply taken to your jeweler to have adjusted. However, just as tight-fitting clothing is not elegant, it should be noted that the secret to wearing rings and necklaces is not to have them fit snugly, but to give them a slightly loose fit. Since jewelry made with poor materials will not be worn even if you spend the money, it is best not to bother with remodeling these. There is nothing that can be done except to keep them stored away as reminders of the type of jewelry that you promise yourself never to buy again.

It is a mistake to remodel something such as a fine brooch form the Art Deco period during the 1920s, simply because of its old-fashioned design. If it does not satisfy you as a piece of jewelry for yourself, it should be passed on to someone else through sale in an auction. That jewelry will be admired by its new owner and take on renewed life. Many signed pieces are especially important masterworks that would be difficult to recreate in today’s jewelry business.

The secret to success in remodeling jewelry is to make your request at a shop that offers a complete selection of finished samples. Each gemstone is completely different when it comes to size and beauty, so the results will note be identical, but you can avoid having the result become something that is totally different from what you had imagined. This is similar to choosing a house by visiting a model home. A style that the jeweler is experienced with will be better thought out, and- since costs relating to developing the jewelry style may be partially recovered- could result in a relatively low price. Trying to make a copy of a famous brand’s style is a shabby way of thinking. Even if you could find a store that will copy it for you, it should be obvious from the examples of attention to detail in Chapter1 that the result will be totally different from the real thing. If starting from the planning stage- as with a custom-built home- you must prepare to pay several times more. Take the time and make adjustments while creating something unique for yourself.

The orange diamond set in this brooch, called a “pumpkin” diamonds, is a very beautiful and rare gem. This piece was remodeled from a ring. The ability to freely remodel jewelry is one of its appealing characteristics.
Harry Winston