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Heirlooms Then and Now

By Sanhati Banerjee

Dig into your grandma’s jewellery box and bring out those heirlooms if your wedding’s round the corner. Right from your granny’s time to your mom’s generation, these heritage pieces have garnered awe and appreciation. Now it’s your turn to flaunt these family assets with your own insignia. Plan Your Wedding tells you how.

 So you thought heirlooms are out of fashion? You were scared that your friends would call you an ‘old-timer’ if you tried pairing these vintage items with your brand new lehenga/saree. In that case, you need to think again. First of all, let’s be clear right at the outset that heirlooms can never be passé. Secondly, not using them might actually cost you a fortune and wearing them could actually get you those superlative ‘wows’ simply for their heritage value, yesteryear charm and yes, their overpowering elegance. Here’s a brief account of the most interesting things you can do with your heirlooms and a few styling options that can help you strike the right bridal look.
The Emotional Quotient
Heirlooms are not just any other jewels or let’s say they are not “empty” as they are strongly anchored to a shared past and an emotional connection. They stir cherished memories; bring out striking resemblances between you, your mom and the grand old ladies of your family, so in a way they pretty much symbolise a lot for you as remember you will also be passing down the jewels to someone else! But as for the present times, these jewels can complete the picture of a maharani bride in full grandeur and also make any bridal look elegant and traditional.
Heirloom jewels are also such that they can be handcrafted and honed by many jewellers specialising in this genre. “The genre of heirloom jewellery can be handcrafted by special jewellers to grace special occasions,” says Suraj Popley, managing director, Popley Eternal.
To Refurbish or not
This brings us to the question of whether to restore a piece of heirloom or not. It might so happen that despite the timeless appeal of heirlooms the work on your bridal outfit or the theme that you have selected for your bridal outfit might be on jarring terms with those. So what can you do in such an instance? At other times, certain heirloom items scream for a bit of polishing or a theme makeover, a little coating of shine or the addition of gemstones. Or it could be that a heritage item is slightly broken or chipped from an edge or a stone has come off or the colour has lost its smooth texture and for any/all of these, you will need customised heirloom treating services.
Whether it is breaking up the old piece/s to get a brand new one, polish it up or adding a few personalised elements – the issue is that of being very selective of what you want to do with your heirloom jewels as you have to be extra cautious before opting for any restoration/remodelling option. Only go to a trusted jeweller who has an expertise in treating heirlooms.
When quizzed about the possibility of restoring/refurbishing heirlooms to create more wearable versions, Komal Ashtekar Hajare and Meenakshi Joshi Sharma, directors, Zevadhi Jewels say “It’s a very personal thing so one can go either which way. In terms of reworking heirloom jewellery, you have to be very sure about it. Especially if it has been passed on from generation to generation and speaks of a special story as well as a history, then may be you should not. But there are times when it will be wise to rework old jewellery, for instance, one can restore it by replacing the old broken pieces and make it look as good as new. One can also design something new when you have a bunch of many little pieces that you can pool together to make just one significant piece that will last you lifetimes over and can serve as your own heirloom piece. Or you can add a little twist to the old piece in the form a new motif or an addition of a few new elements to give that piece your own signature style.”
“Each piece can be customised to incorporate new materials and thereby adding more vibrancy to it,” says Suraj Popley. He further adds that odds and ends can be transformed into a wearable work of art, or heirlooms can be showcased in an imaginative, modern design that can be worn time and again.
So whether you want to keep it intact and wear it in its authentic version or give it a contemporary makeover depends up to you. But make sure to not to deform/distort the original pieces beyond recognition as then it will cease to be an heirloom!
Theme it up
When you have decided to go for heirloom jewellery on your D-day or on your sangeet ceremony, then build the theme of your wedding/pre-wedding ceremony around the look; design type and theme of your jewellery. Do not go the other way round. As a rule, gorgeous traditional attire goes hand and hand with heirlooms.
As a matter of fact, heirloom jewellery is very much in vogue as brides continue to be in love with kundan-jadau and meenakari sets. Contemporary heirloom collections are also throwing their weight around from behind the glass windows of jewellery showrooms, so go take your pick and probably this autumn-winter we can see you waxing vintage!

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