Today you hear a ton about #modernheirlooms, but what about actual heirlooms? I have a strong affinity for estate jewelry, especially pieces that have been passed down for centuries. I'm lucky enough to come from a family with a vibrant and strong jewelry history. There are a ton of pieces in my possession that were worn by my ancestors in the 1800s! I'll be sure to share those treasures in future posts.
This thirty-eight carat citrine is such an heirloom. In the 1960s it was discovered by my maternal grandmother, Helen, while she was perusing one of the obscure stalls at the famed covered bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey. Yiayia (Greek for grandmother) was prone to dramatic gesticulation and wore her hulking gemstone proudly. Later on down the road, the citrine ring was gifted to my mother, Alexandra. As a child I remember my mother sitting stately and ladylike wearing this lovely citrine with her hands strategically placed where all rings were on view. While my mother does not have the same melodramatic flare as my grandmother she has her own charming diva-like qualities. As a child, I lovingly referred to this ring as “Mommy’s diamond” to which my mother would reply with her hilarious wit and sarcasm “God, I wish”. On the eve of my wedding my mother gifted this family heirloom to me. I wore the citrine in its original setting for a while until my designer instincts just could not leave it alone anymore. The setting had always appeared flimsy to me and, after further examination, I discovered that the citrine was not only heavily abraded (after several decades of wear) but the gem was not cut and faceted properly. I set to work on a new design for the setting and took the loose gemstone to the lapidary for a makeover. The result was dramatic. By simply repolishing the gem and adding a few more facets the citrine came to life and the color was enhanced. It went from being a rather dull light brown to becoming a brilliant yellow champagne color which is quite unusual for a citrine.
I wanted to pay homage to the gemstone’s rich history by designing a setting that not only honored my mother and grandmother’s ancestral Greek roots but also to create a setting that would signify the importance and uniqueness of this unusual and large gemstone. The columns found in the temples of ancient Greece served as inspiration for the sides of the ring. The design starts close together and then flows upwards towards the sky gracefully holding up the weight of the gem like Atlas holding the weight of the world. The platinum-set champagne and colorless diamonds are sporadically placed between the columns representing the various broken pieces of column that are typically found spewn around the bottom of the ruins. The brushed, flat finish on the 18 karat yellow gold shows a surface weathered and blanched by centuries under the Mediterranean sun.
I am thrilled with how this ring turned out. When I wear this ring I am wearing the legacy of the women who came before me. It represents my grandmother’s verve and my mother’s theatrical flare as well as their travels and lives living abroad. For me, it represents spreading my creative wings as an artist and a tremendous sense of pride that I was able to elevate this special heirloom and save it for posterity. The best part is that my youngest son refers to this ring as “Mommy’s diamond”.