Jewelry, Love and Money

Jewelers occupy an interesting position at the intersection of love
and money. This is seen when, for example, a wedding ring or
engagement ring is considered. Practical considerations like budget,
intrinsic value of materials, and durability are superimposed on
purely emotional aspects like love, commitment, and sentiment. Those
two strands coexist, and not always in equal proportions. For some,
tangible aspects are more important; for others, the emotion
expressed is paramount.

In my role as jewel maker over 40 years, I have seen a broad
spectrum of possibilities. An elderly woman once asked me to repair a
ring given by her recently deceased husband. the only ring he had
given her and thus, for her, of great significance. Otherwise, it was
a very cheap thing: a glass stone set in metal that was marked
"sterling" (but turned out to be plated.) For that man, I would guess
that neither the value of the ring nor the emotion it was supposed to
represent was especially important.

By contrast, there is the example of a couple who came to me for
wedding rings. They wanted rings in gold because of tradition, but
had a very limited budget. I was able to accommodate them with the
simplest rings made of thin gold wire, and they were elated. For
them, the weight of the gold was not as important as what it

As someone in the higher end of the trade, some of my favorite
pieces that I have made over the years were not the most valuable,
but ones that I knew would become family heirlooms.

One of my favs was the lovely white gold, sapphire, and pearls hair
clip a mother had me make for her daughter’s wedding. I know that
that hair clip will be worn by the daughters, grand daughters and
great grand daughters when they get married in turn. When they came
to pick it up I told them that. All three of us got a little misty
eyed right in the middle of the busy store.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer

Any thoughts about what happens to the value of high end china,
cutlery, personal jewelry etc over generations?

Does it appreciate like antiques in general?


When a couple order wedding rings I take a good look at the man’s
hands to check he is a trades man. If so I say that the wife should
get one in gold, but the husband will destroy his it at work.

I say. "This is an emotional experience not a monetary investment.
The trades man should have silver.

And you spend the difference on a romantic night in a 5 star hotel."

9 out of 10 wives go “Hell, yeah!” Wife has beautiful gold wedder,
husband has same ring in silver. (Which he will lose or damage, no
great financial loss.) And they get a romantic night in luxury.

I started suggesting this after many women came looking for sterling
replacement wedders for the husband.

One lady’s husband had lost 5 gold wedders over the years.


One lady's husband had lost 5 gold wedders over the years. 

Yikes! I’d say that there is a subtle message there.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Yes, demand Jo and of course supply. IMO good, antique china with a
stamp on the back like “22 carat gold” will increase in value. The
demand goes up and the supply goes down. There are big reference
works in the library on what all those marks/signs mean on china.
Few state “gold”.

But your comment on “heirloom jewelry” puzzles me. If the family is
UK royalty and I get a deal on the HRM crown I will buy it and not
crack out the stones or melt down the gold. But does this apply to
antique/heirloom custom-made jewelry from ordinary folks? Will J
Doe’s custom made wedding ring be worth anything special to J Smith
in 100 years?

I made my daughter’s engagement and wedding rings out of platinum and
her husband’s weddy out of palladium. Cheaper and more resilient but
they prefer the colour to silver. I’m not sure if I like niobium or
titanium jewellery, I have made titanium rings and chain maille but I
wouldnt say it was my favourite, it was part of someone’s doctorate
in anodising Ti and Al alloys and we thought we would have a play
with it. I supposethe exact choice of alloy would make a difference.
Mind you, if you want the prettiest hard plate body armour going I
could steer you in the right direction. Nick Royall

I enjoy Antiques Roadshow and observe that the appraisers commonly
give an ‘auction’ estimate and and ‘insurance’ estimate. The
insurance estimate is higher to cover replacement cost. So far as
heirloom jewelry, if the piece is marked by Faberge, Cartier,
Tiffany, etc. the appraised value is significantly higher than the
value of the metal and stones.

Not likely that a piece by “J Doe, jeweler” will reach the status of
a piece by Tiffany.

Judy in Kansas, where the sunny day is quite lovely and a nice
change from the deep freeze of last week.