Family Heirlooms, Part I

Family is so closely linked to our sentiments that sometimes it is hard to separate memory with objects, emotion with objects… that bittersweet feeling in a moment of loss and a moment of remembrance. We all deal with these correlations in our own way.

This week I was asked to appraise some family heirlooms for my mom and her seven sisters (yes, all girls… eight of them). Last May, we dealt with the loss of their mother, my grandmother. She was “mom”… that is how I addressed her, how she signed her heart-felt and frequent e-mails to me.

I guess one of the things that made appraising these pieces difficult was the fact that “mom” was one of my biggest fans. I would come home with a new acquisition… an exciting antique jewelry find, and there she would be, asking me questions about the age, history, value… her eyes completely fascinated, as fascinated as mine were.

It is no surprise then that I took great interest in the jewels she wore. Now, I’ve had the honor of appraising her most prized pieces… her wedding set. I also appraised her Mother-in-law’s engagement ring, my great grandmother.

When “mom” got engaged, the illusion set rings were all the rage. The style had transformed from the 1920’s /30’s filigree to the sleek and classic white gold sets of the 1950s. My great grandmother admired “mom’s” set so much that she got her diamond reset. Her diamond cut was an older Transitional Cut, but equally as stunning.  No matter the monetary value I have placed on these rings for these appraisals, they are priceless to me.

Priceless.  I also appraised two modern emerald bands.  My grandmother got these bands on a cruise her and my grandfather (popooze) took. Emerald is my grandfather’s birthstone and a gemstone “mom” loved. She wore these bands with her set everyday. The memory of them on her hand is vivid… they were so striking together. When she passed last May, I got a check from the estate and decided to buy the ring below in memory of both “mom” and “popooze”… an emerald. I wear it often and though it wasn’t owned by my grandmother, though she did not give it to me herself… it is just as sentimental to me and helps me keep their memory alive.


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