So, here’s a question for you. When it comes to jewellery, what do Lady Gaga and Audrey Hepburn have in common?
On the surface of it, it’s hard to imagine there might be any connection between the darling of 1960s Hollywood and the darling of iconic Noughties pop music.
But it was there for all to see on the red carpet at this year’s Oscars ceremony in the shape of a 128 carat yellow diamond worn at the neck of the always-unpredictable singer.
While the media went into a feeding frenzy over Lady G’s unravelling Alexander McQueen outfit, people like me were gazing with admiration at the impressive rock which Hepburn had worn for the Breakfast at Tiffany’s publicity shoot in 1961.
It’s not the only recent example of heritage and antique jewellery making a style comeback, but it does underline the growing sense that it’s cool to be seen flaunting pieces that, not so long ago, one might have been tempted to sell off or give away (okay, we’re not talking about the Gaga/Hepburn diamond now).
Suddenly, it’s cool to be wearing pieces of jewellery with a history. But whilst the reimagining of old pieces of jewellery may be seen as an emerging trend by some parts of the media, the truth is that it’s been something I and many other bespoke jewellers have been doing for years.
It’s hard to understand why the trend is suddenly gaining attention, although some commentators suggest it could be down to millennials and Gen Z shopping more mindfully these days, and the fact that having something with a back story transports it from ‘used’ to ‘unique’.
Jewellery has always been a favourite bequest. The engagement ring your grandmother wore or the diamond bracelet your mother received for her 21st birthday hold extraordinary sentimental value – and people tend to keep those items for the same reason.
But among the apparently old-fashioned or ugly items passed down through the generations or unearthed in flea markets, it’s entirely possible you may find a true gem – in the most literal sense.
My advice to anyone who finds themselves suddenly in possession of a piece of jewellery that perhaps causes their nose to take an involuntary upward turn should do nothing in haste.
The growing trend toward antique jewellery comes with an inevitable consequence: a rise in the value of those types of piece. Not always, certainly – sometimes an ugly duckling is just an ugly duckling – but occasionally.
Before you throw out a ring, brooch, necklace or pair of earrings, consider one or both of these two options: have it valued, or have it remade.
Like many jewellers, I offer both services and you’d be surprised how often I’ve had the pleasure of telling someone the ugly brooch they thought was costume jewellery is in fact reasonably valuable.
I mean, it’s not exactly the jaw-dropping drama of the Antiques Road show when someone rocks up with a mangy teddy bear that turns out to be worth £25,000, but neither is it small beer.
Similarly, you’d also be surprised at how a little creativity, knowledge and skill can turn something dull or unremarkable into a talking point by reimagining it as an altogether different piece.
Taking just a small amount of time to think about whether there’s life yet in an old piece of jewellery might just be a smart move – even if the charity box seems like it ought to be its next destination.