One of the fascinating things about jewellery is that it is continuously being altered and re-invented to suit the times. From the Renaissance and up until the early Georgian period, the focus for jewellery was on the gems, not the settings. In wills, the important gems were left to heirs rather than, say, the necklace in which they were found. The gems were then re-set in the current style until their next re-birth. In fact, up until the 1950s, often the first thing those lucky enough to inherit family jewellery did was to have the rings re-set and the earring fittings changed. The Victorian era jewellery we can still buy today is often because they were not family heirlooms and did not contain important or large gemstones

Today, brooches have fallen out of style and it is now quite common to see antique brooches converted to necklaces, with their pin and clasps removed. The Victorian pietra dura necklace at the top of the post  was once a brooch. The Art Deco pendant below also looks as if is a converted brooch.

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Art deco levalier necklace converted from a brooch (in Navette on Ruby Lane)

It is not just brooches that are being given a new lease of life. The diamond pendant below probably stared out life as the handle of a woman’s lorgnette, used at the opera or for the ballet. Crafted out of platinum and set with diamonds, it was too good to discard but lorgnettes are just not used today.  Its re-birth has created a lovely pendant.

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Antique diamond pendant, probably converted from a handle of a lorgnette

Another item of functional jewellery that is often converted is the cufflink.  Less and less needed by men to hold their cuffs together as shirts now come with buttons, cufflinks are being relegated to special events and evening wear only. They were (and still are) expensive, well made items so rather than being discarded, some are being converted into earrings. The pretty micro mosaic earrings below were once the front half of a set of cufflinks.

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Gold drop earrings with micro mosaic and enamel fronts

I will write more about the re-birth of jewellery later in the year.