If you know the history of your jewelry items, whether they be from 90 days ago or 90 years ago, it would be well worth the effort to document this for future generations. It’s wonderful to know the story behind a piece of family jewelry, and the best way to to be assured that the history may be remembered is to write it down. There is a great difference between an old ruby ring that’s been in the family for a long time, and a ruby (July’s birthstone) ring that was given to your grandmother from your grandfather when your mother was born the July after granddad returned home from the army.
Any history of jewelry should be recorded and protected, or the story will either be forgotten, or wind up in some obscure file, never to be seen again. Even if you feel the information may not be of interest to future generations, document it anyway and let your heirs decide — because once the chain of information is broken, there is generally no viable way to reconstruct it, and you wind up with pure conjecture. In most families, heirloom jewelry (or jewelry with heirloom potential) already exists and the longer that time goes by without any attempt to document the history, the better the chance becomes that the origins will be lost forever. Even details you may consider to be common knowledge should be documented, since your grandchildren will not be to be privy to your memories — and don’t bet that your children will remember where a piece came from, either.
This sort of information could be invaluable to your heirs, but you should be aware that sometimes the monetary value of family jewelry may be enhanced when it’s provenance can be documented — although this is rarely the case, the charm that such documentation will carry many years from now is immeasurable, and the effort involved is something that you will never regret doing. There is simply no downside to maintaining a written record. Remember the children’s game called “Telephone”? A message would be passed from one person to the next, but after several passes the original message would inevitably be altered, often comically. This will also happen with the verbal history of jewelry, but there’s nothing funny about the permanent loss of those memories. If you want to be as sure as possible that the information is preserved for the future, write it down.
Joe Brandt is a local resident, and President of J.L. Brandt Company, offering diversified fine jewelry advisory services to the general public. Questions or comments may be directed to JLBCO@hotmail.com. All inquiries are confidential, and will be responded to promptly.