The Making of a Family Heirloom:
A Diamond & Sapphire Ring

“It isn’t just jewellery. It’s a story, told in gemstones; a family history, a love story, a personal memoir, a statement to the world.”

For award-winning jeweller Matthew Ely, whose luxury boutique is a stalwart of the Queen St strip, each custom-made piece – specifically curated for its wearer and collector – has its own story to tell.

Here is just one. The transformation of a family heirloom, and the ‘making of’ a remarkable colour fade sapphire and diamond ring.

Step 1: The Consultation & Original Heirloom Rings

It started with two rings, ten diamonds, and one sketch.

A valued Matthew Ely client had a very special request: to transform and unite two sentimental heirlooms, her late mother’s rings, into one beautiful, iconic piece. A piece that was both creative and wearable; a piece that would make her father smile and celebrate her parents long, happy marriage; a piece that was “like nothing you’d normally see in a cabinet”.

For Matthew, this brief was an “absolute pleasure”.

“There’s something so special about redesigning a family heirloom. It’s like being given the first chapter to a story, then writing a full novel. You want to make those original gemstones shine, while also reimagining them to match the personality and aesthetic of the wearer; the next generation. The original stones aren’t always the main character.”

Sketch of a diamond ring

Step 2: The Sapphires & Sketch

Enter: sapphires.

Matthew sat down with his client to sketch out a new ring, over glasses of French champagne (to inspire creativity!).

“Sapphires matched her personality. They’re eye-catching and unique,
particularly with the colour fade ombre effect. It takes a lot of design time and energy to make that work, and the colour of the gemstones selected really has be perfect, or else it can look blocky – but the final product is well worth it for a piece that is truly unique.”

The birthstone of September, sapphires are the most durable naturally occurring elements in the world, making them an excellent choice for jewellery.

The only thing that can scratch a sapphire is a diamond!

Colour fade sapphires and round brilliant cut diamonds

Step 3: Sourcing the Colour Fade Sapphires

Matthew’s challenge after his first client meeting was to find the “perfect colour fade sapphires”.

The final four stones selected were Ceylon sapphires, hand-picked, custom cut and trimmed to be the precise shape and size required. They were to be set in a platinum band, alongside the client’s original diamonds – seven round brilliant cuts from her late mother’s eternity ring, and one larger round brilliant cut plus two marquise diamonds from the engagement ring.

Jewellery remodelling - a sapphire and diamond ring by Matthew Ely

Step 4: Handcrafting the Sapphire & Diamond ‘Seats

The next step was to handcraft an oval ‘seat’ – or bezel setting – for each sapphire, to ensure the gemstones sat at the right height on the final piece. This was also done for both the marquise and round brilliant cut diamonds, with an additional three gemstones added to the seven smaller round brilliant cuts on the final ring.

Remodelling a family heirloom ring in platinum

Step 5: Joining the Band & Final Steps

The band was welded together with a flame, and claws were added to hold the sapphires in place.

Underneath the ‘serpent head’ side of the ring, Matthew used a jewellers saw frame to pierce the platinum behind the diamonds, lightening up the metal and adding a unique decorative feature.

A custom made sapphire and diamond ring by Matthew Ely

Step 6: Setting the Gemstones

We have our diamonds and sapphires!

After approximately 40 hours of handcrafting and some complicated design work, the final piece was complete.

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Should you be inspired by one of our bespoke pieces, please book an appointment to discuss how we can create something special, just for you.

It started with two rings, ten diamonds, and one sketch. The request? To transform and unite two sentimental heirlooms, our client's late mother’s rings, into one beautiful, iconic piece.