Seeing Double ~ A Bespoke Design Story

Two pairs of bespoke platinum star sapphire and rose-cut diamond earrings
Two finished pairs of bespoke star sapphire and rose-cut diamond earrings. Set in platinum and originally from a pair of 1920s Tiffany & Co. cufflinks.

Behind each amazing bespoke fine jewelry piece that is created is an even more amazing story. In this new series of blogs and social media posts I will write more about each story to give you not only fabulous jewelry but a glimpse into the fabulous people who inspire each and every piece.

I design part-time for Gleim the Jeweler in Palo Alto, California. This jewelry store is quite special as they are a family-owned business that has been open for eighty-eight years. The customers that I usually work with through the store are families that have been coming in for decades and therefore, generations. Recently, I was fortunate to work with a lovely family who are longtime friends and customers of Gleim. They brought in a gorgeous pair of original Tiffany and Co. Star Sapphire and Platinum cufflinks dating back to the 1920s. Not only were the star sapphires considerably large and perfectly matched but they came in their own custom, hand-made jewelry box which was a gorgeous purple with gold stamping outlining the facets of a gemstone. This is something that a jewelry geek, such as myself, gets really excited about.

1920s Tiffany & Co. Cufflinks in their original box
The 1920s Tiffany & Co. cufflinks (before redesign) in their original jewelry box.

The owner mentioned that the cufflinks belonged to his grandfather and had been sitting in their dresser drawer for decades. He was not a cufflink-wearing type so, after much consideration, he and his wife decided to turn the cufflinks into two pairs of matching earrings for their grown daughters to wear.

Concept designs for creating bespoke earrings.
Initial concept designs for creating bespoke earrings.

After designing a few options the couple settled on one that featured rose-cut diamonds and a double hanging structure. The star sapphires were set in a bezel setting (metal all around the gemstone) and around the outside was a lovely Greek Key design that had been perfectly hand-engraved. There was also the most perfect microscopic milgrain surrounding the star sapphire. Milgrain is a jewelry-detailing technique where tiny metal beads are added, typically to create an ornate border. This detailing is common in estate pieces of jewelry. It needs to be done with a steady hand or else it can look very sloppy and uneven. This milgrain was some of the most perfect I have ever seen.

The details on the bezel setting were so beautiful that I decided to keep them and incorporate some of the “old” into the new design. I selected four rose-cut diamonds that would become the top part of the earrings as well as the second “joint”. The rose-cut diamonds seemed like a logical choice as they are not as flashy as the modern round brilliant-cut diamonds but still add that beautiful diamond sparkle. The design we decided on was more modern with straight lines that compliment the angularity of the Greek Key design as well as highlight the gemstones.

Greek key hand-engraved details and milgrain details
Detail of the original Greek key design that was hand-engraved as well as the delicate milgrain finishing.

The completed earrings have now been passed down to the next generation and one of the daughters will be wearing the earrings on her wedding day as her “something old, something new and something blue”. Designing one-of-a-kind bespoke pieces like this is extremely special. Knowing that I have designed a modern heirloom that has been passed down to the next generation is extremely meaningful. This is the power of jewelry!

Stay gold,


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