The value of jewellery is universally known. We know that precious metal and stones have a real monetary value and jewellery can be amongst the most expensive thing money can buy, especially given its relatively small size. Whilst may know there is a value its takes an expert opinion to quantify that value properly and the range is very broad. Weights of precious metal are calculated, gemstone weights and market rarity are considered, even the method of construction and maker skill is accounted for.
But not all value is bean counting. Attached to jewellery that has been owned and treasured there is always a story. Archealogists dig up ancient jewellery artifacts and speculate about the wearer and their lives. They can glean insights into their associations, travels and even place in society.
One of my favourite stories describing how deep this sentiment can run is a lady we shall name Hope. Hope was long time client in her eighties that still refered to younger gentlemen as "son". She was brought into our store one day after suffering a fall with noticable bruising. She had injured her hand in the fall and subsequently her ring finger had swollen up. There was no option other than to cut the rings off her finger to allow the swelling to go down. Upon gently placing the cutters under the ring her hand in mine Hope recounted putting that ring on her finger when she was 18 years of age at her grandmothers bedside. At that time her grandmother had worn the small gold band for entire married life.
Now, it is a delicate business for anyone to begin adding ages of people and I cannot recall the exact workings. However, it is fair to say at that time I calculated the ring had been worn continuously by the ladies of that family throughout their lives for no less than 130 years. I was blown away by this fact!
We are often involved in separation of estates as jewellers, and sometimes even discuss succesion matters with adult children and parents together. It is always a matter of defining the value of the items to be distributed fairly amongst those that actually want them. It means something to the giver that their treasure is valued and it means something to the receiver to have such a closely worn and treasured keepsake.
Therefore, above all value is the sentimental feelings. More often than not in the aforementioned situations a family member will want the simplest piece that means the most. Perhaps a fine wedding ring or even a semiprecious friendship ring, it is rarely about money. We can can remould and rework these precious metals to keep the sentiment but even the simplest of treasured pieces can never be replaced.