Privilege Blog

A Couple Of Ways To Wear Estate Jewelry For Your Wedding

My brother gets married next month. True to High WASP form, he gave his fiancée a family ring when they got engaged. In fact, the Burning Man wedding reference is true to form in its own way, but that’s neither here nor there.

My brother also has a diamond and sapphire brooch in his possession,  another piece given against the hope of a future wife. But we don’t wear brooches much these days, now do we? So he’s having it made into earrings for his bride on her wedding day. And beyond, of course.

One does not have to receive anything from a grandmother, aunt, or great-grandfather to wear this kind of thing. If you like High WASP style, or simply believe that we need dig no further stones and metal from this earth, you have options. The most straightforward choice, of course, is a vintage ring for your engagement. Emeralds are quite striking. Beauty in the face of flaws. Metaphor, anyone?

You can even find something with a little Edwardian folderol. This 1 ct. diamond sits amidst platinum hearts and arrows.

Should you want to exercise a little Artsy Cousin spirit, rather than hewing to tradition, have a piece reworked. I think the pink sapphire and diamond brooch above could make beautiful earrings. A spray of pink, blue, and green to dangle, diamond scrolls at the earlobe.

Vintage ruby, emerald, and sapphire pin from Beladora

Or we can heed the exhortations of east side bride, and sport “more barrettes PLEEZ.” These are bar pins. I would hope they could be used as hair ornaments. This first, something, you know, blue.

Or this, quite geometric and beautiful. For a wedding on the High Line. Or the Golden Gate bridge, echoing the crisscrossing of spans and ties, the early 20th-century hope of cable’s promise.

What will all this cost? Reworking something like the pink sapphire brooch, especially if the jeweler contributes significant design services, will run at least $1000. Repurposing the bar pins as hair ornaments is a simpler and less expensive project.

Anna, at Anna Brown Lost And Found, on Etsy, and her own website, has a business where she does just this sort of work. One of her pieces, for example, is a brooch converted to necklace.

Vintage brooch as neckalce

Anna told me,

“I convert vintage and antique jewelry into pieces that can be worn everyday and on special occasions.  These one-of-a-kind items are often saved from the scrap heap and re-purposed by hand for use as necklaces, bracelets and rings. When I wear one of my necklaces, I always end up having a conversation with someone about it, either about how they have a similar brooch from their Granny that they never wear or about how it looks like something designed today to look antique.”

Anna adds a touch of realism to my fancies.

For the enamel brooch she says,

“A bar brooch like this can easily be worn in your hair without any conversion to the piece.  I would suggest using discreet bobby pins to place this in a simple updo.  Because of the enamel it would be very tricky to solder additional bits onto it.  If you want to attach a proper clip it would require a lot of skill and cost between $500-$1000.  Enamel estate pieces are highly sought after and good ones are rare.”

For the Edwardian brooch,

“It would be gorgeous as a necklace with two jump rings soldered onto each end and a chain attached to each end, costing between $300-$400.  This could also be attached to a hair comb using clear wire that would be virtually invisible and thus the brooch could be worn again as itself.”

So vintage pieces are out there. Conversion is doable. Duchesse wrote here about other etsy vendors who repurpose pieces.

You may have some brilliant ideas that prove impractical. Your artisan may surprise you. All of which is part of most Artsy Cousin efforts. And marriage, of course.

The cost of everything shown here is below. Note that Beladora is offering Privilege readers their own special and fairly significant discounts. I’m happy. Open the doors wide to High WASP style, as we try to do now with our families.

Pink sapphire brooch, $995, Beladora code SKYE1 for $100 off
Blue enamel brooch, $295, Beladora code SKYE2 for $45 off
Edwardian brooch, $595, Beladora code SKYE3 for $100 off
Emerald ring, $1550, Beladora code SKYE4 for $310 off
Edwardian diamond ring, Lang Estate and Antique Jewelry, $15,700
Aquamarine Bar Brooch Necklace, Anna Brown Lost And Found, $150

No compensation was received for this post. Beladora advertises with Privilege, but any thing more is at my discretion.

28 Responses

  1. that diamond ring makes me think a little of my engagement ring. mine is also in a hexagonal setting.

    at our wedding, i wore a bracelet that is passed down in my husband’s family to the wife of the first boy. it was made for my husband’s great grandmother by louis comfort tiffany. (lucky me). i also wore a brooch pinned to a string of pearls.

    i think jewelry like this is so beautiful, why not wear it during your special day?

  2. Oh Miss Privilege, you can guess how I reacted to this one! Love. It. All. The emerald ring is simply stunning, and the bar brooches are very . I’m a fan of the “we don’t really need to dig up anymore stones” sentiment, having an engagement ring from a family stone, and earrings made with charms from an ancestor’s bracelet. (Of course they don’t ‘match’, you would appreciate the consternation on faces as they and sort through this disturbing phenomenon!)

    I am a huge Beladora fan, just sent someone there yesterday!

  3. vintage and estate jewelry are so great! i have a few lucky gems that i found at antique shops at a fraction of the price of current fine jewelry. so cool to own a little piece of history.

  4. The floral spray brooch is so pretty…nice to see a variety of colours rather than all one tone.
    It would be fun to have a vault full of quality vintage pieces to choose from.

    Belladora has such an amazing assortment of juicy gems….love to peruse their selection and dream!

  5. My sisters got all of my mother’s jewelry when she died, alas – I’d have loved to have two of her pieces to repurpose.

    I love, love, love emeralds, so I’m all about that ring (although it would probably overwhelm my very small hand), but that pink sapphire brooch? Makes my heart go pitty-pat.

  6. I have my husbands great great grandmothers ring, but my wedding necklace story is something magical – right after my grandmother died, I had a dream where she told me I needed to wear a pearl necklace she’d left me. I hadn’t been home or gone through the box of things she left, so I called my mom the next morning, and a necklace matching the dream was there. I couldn’t have worn anything else!!

    I love the pins-as-barrettes idea. I have many Victorian bar pins and I’ll never really wear them as pins. Stringing on a necklace sounds lovely too!

  7. Loving the emerald ring- Nanny and MoMo both have emerald wedding rings- Nanny’s is EXACTLY like the one featured and MoMo’s is a big emerald with two diamonds on the side. I inherited Nanny’s ring :)



  8. A wonderful idea to renew old, inherited jewelry. But – brooches- I have just learned to appreciate them. They have a ” lifting ” effect. So special for a certain age.

  9. Beee-utiful! That emerald is awfully tempting at that price. BTW, I’ve seen earrings, particularly those in a flat-ish Edwardian style like the diamond ring above, used as lovely clips on the neck of a dress.

  10. My husband had the seven small diamonds from his first wedding ring made into earrings for me. There are four diamonds on the one, three on the other, all strung along a chain of white gold. The one with four earrings is longer, so I am asymmetrical. I love those earrings.

    PS I met him well after he and his ex split. I AM NOT A HOMEWRECKER! Not even for cool diamond earrings.

  11. In the era of the blood diamond, family heirloom engagement rings are really the best solution. I am so happy to wear my husband’s great-grandmother’s. It makes me feel warm and connected to a long line of strong, opinionated, fiercely devoted wives.

    And I think the brooch should not go gentle into that good night, but be worn proudly on one’s collar or neckline, as it was intended! Brooches–especially those in the shapes of crawling, flying, swimming creatures–should have a day of revival. I have a large collection of fine Irish woolen shawls and wraps, and I use my brooches to fasten them.

  12. I usually wear a brooch on the lapel of my suit jacket. I’m a huge fan of vintage jewelry – wish I had the budget to match!

  13. Lisa I love the emerald ring! Gorgeous all! The Beladora jewels are amazing!

    Art by Karena

    Last few days to Come and enter my very Fashionable Giveaway from the French Basketeer!

  14. Beladora is going to get some of my money someday – gorgeous!

    You can buy brooch converters – it’s a tube with a bail (the hang-y hole part). You slide the pin through the tube and string on your favorite chain.

  15. I have a couple of brooches… I secure them on to elastic bands and they look stunning on a neatly pulled back pony tail. Also, I have a couple of dress pants without belt loops. I often attach my brooches to the front of my pants where a belt buckle would be. Stunning and sophisticated! Also, I wear a lot of tie sweaters (like ballet dancers do) and a brooch over the knot at the bottom of the sweater is an unexpected and fun look!

    Ps. the emerald ring is stunning!

  16. Great post, especially reference for jeweler. I love vintage diamond rings, especially the older, less blingy cuts, but caution about an emerald if you plan to wear your ring daily. They are softer than diamonds or rubies and sapphires, and will therefore nick and (in worst case shatter) if worn hard. That’s why you see them more as dinner rings than ERs. But a pair of emerald earrings, ahhhh.

  17. I adore vintage jewelry. And luckily so does my husband. My engagement ring is old – sapphire surrounded by miners cut diamonds – still love it. And my husband has given my several beautiful pieces over the years that I wear frequently – including several a spectacular brooch, which I do wear. I actually love and wear brooches – I now have several!

  18. Naurnie – That’s a good sort of great grandmother to have. Good planning Great Grandma!

    TPP – Not only can I imagine the consternation, I can imagine the exact look of, “Well we won’t say anything now, will we!” I love the idea of earrings from charms. So appropriately Artsy.

    Miss Sophie – I bet they work perfectly with your style.

    Hostess – In fact I think a rosie piece of jewelry should find its way to you somehow.

    Jan – Hello? How did that happen that your sisters have it all? I only hope that overall the distribution was equitable.

  19. Tabitha – That it is.

    Tamera – That is such a wonderful story. I also imagine you could carry off the bar pins as barrettes or as necklaces, very well.

    QBS – Now that’s a good way to do family emeralds:).

    Mette – I’d love to see how you wear brooches.

    Katherine – Dress clips are wonderful, I agree. My mother has a pair, that I think were actually supposed to be clipped on a dress even.

  20. The gold digger – Wonderful repurposing.

    Stephanie – Thank you!

    Staircase Witch – “connected to a long line of strong, opinionated, fiercely devoted wives.” Well, there’s nothing better than that.

    Susan – Thank you. Glad you like it. Sort of like your garden.

    DocP – I am a huge fan of brooches on suit jacket lapels, for those with sufficient presence to carry it off.

  21. Miss Cavendish – As you rode off, somehow, I imagine.

    Karena – Thank you!

    Patsy – You know so many good things.

    EntertainingMom – I had been thinking about wearing the pin I have on my ponytail. I will have to try this out.

    Duchesse – Aha. Good catch on the emerald hardness issue. Thank you.

    quintessence – What a perfect sharing of interests:).

  22. I love this post. My mom, being the first generation in her family to buy jewelery for leisure, gave me my wedding set. Something she bought for herself “just because” and then she later gave me her wedding ring, as my father has passed on. Luckily, I have something to pass down to each of my daughters. My son…well…I’ve given him my good looks. As long as he keeps that, he will find a wife.

  23. The bar brooches are wonderful and not particularly fashionable, which I love because you can find them easily. We used to call them stock pins, because they held your stock in place out hunting. Now people wear them at the shoulder. My grandmother had one with teenyweeny diamonds across it and I always thought it like a Star Wars light sabre.

    Also, that emerald ring is extraordinary. Is it yours? (Please say it is.)

  24. I’ll admit that I’m not generally too fond of barrettes, but the ones you included look beautiful! An antique piece like that would work wonderfully to bring an up-do all together. Having an elegant hairstyle with elegant jewelry to complement it seems like a great option for a bride. Thanks for the article!

Comments are closed.