A Jewellery Remodelling:
7 Pieces for 7 Nieces
Family heirlooms are transformed into modern classics with Matthew Ely's Jewellery Remodelling & Restorations.
For Matthew, these projects represent some of the greatest and most rewarding challenges.
“You’re essentially given a canvas that’s half painted; a story half told. This isn’t just about creating something beautiful. It’s about maintaining a symbolic family connection, using pre-existing gemstones to design new heirlooms.”
It was in late 2020 that Matthew embarked on one of his most exciting jewellery recreations to date.
The challenge: to remodel a special Grandmother’s gemstones into not one, but seven modern classics. These redesigned jewels would be high-end statement pieces, simultaneously wearable and perfectly matched to the individual personalities of their new owners.
A gift – or seven – from a generous uncle to his seven nieces, creating new family heirlooms from his mother’s old gems, dating back to the 1920s.
As always, it started with a sketch. Matthew and his client would meet weekly, brainstorming ideas as Matthew put pen to paper, visualising concepts that were later painted by an artist in France, before being set in stone. Over 11 months, seven unique works of wearable art came into being, blending original jewels and settings – sprays of diamonds, individual pearls and leaves from a brooch – with modern elements that were unique to the wearer.
For one young and artistic niece, this meant redesigning her grandmother’s diamonds into two special pendants, a feather and a tooth – both sparkling with pink sapphires and brilliant cut diamonds, set in rose gold. With a hint of rebellion, it added a casual ‘vibe’ to something that was true high-end jewellery, steeped in family history.
For another, pink tourmalines and rubies were sprinkled between Grandma’s diamonds and pearls, adding a dash of red (her favourite colour) to a new pair of earrings, perfect for her wedding.
And in yet a third recreation, baroque South Sea pearls, diamonds and emeralds from an original brooch were recreated into a pair of drop earrings, inspired by an ivy-covered swing in the family garden.
At a sit-down dinner in the Matthew Ely Queen St boutique – a catered three-course meal with bottles of French champagne – these special Recreations were presented to their new owners.
According to Matthew, “for our clients, it isn’t just the jewel, but the experience behind it; those little luxuries and surprises – whether it’s a sit-down family meal in store, or that final leather-bound book with the original sketches of their new family heirloom, now brought to life”.
Seven pieces for seven nieces. And the response? “Tears, joy and complete shock!”