An Heirloom Commission

Written by: Ellie Aquilina



Time to read 4 min

An insight into a recent heirloom commission here at Thorpe and Brown

We have been busy in our workshop lately with some bespoke commission pieces, and this one in particular we wanted to share with you as its truly an heirloom piece

Our customer came to us with some family heirloom pieces she had acquired, newly engaged and wanting to incorporate these special and sentimental pieces into her own engagement ring, and perhaps even her wedding band if there was enough gold to spare.

Our commission appointments are always focused around what the customer has in mind, design briefs, price points and budgets, gemstone viewing and selection and the various processes and techniques which would be involved in creating these bespoke pieces. In this case our customer had some heirloom gold pieces that we advised could be melted down in our workshop and made into her new engagement ring and wedding band, she selected gemstones that were important to her and was very specific in wanting a five stone setting, we discussed the CAD option to creating a precise piece based on the gemstone dimensions that would also fit the newly melted down shank, and we ran over the general techniques we would use to create to her handcrafted engagement ring such as casting, setting and polishing

Three heirloom gold rings ready for meltdown for remodellin
A before shot of the Heirloom pieces brought in by our customer for her commission appointment. Thorpe and Brown Ltd.

During our commission appointment we discussed the steps we could take to create the ring that she had envisioned using the heirloom pieces she brought in to show us. In summary, these steps involved melting down the gold pieces in our workshop and handcrafting a new band from the gold, selecting her preferred gemstones for the five stone setting which was part of her brief. In this case the stones chosen were an emerald cut tourmaline, baguette green peridots and round brilliant diamonds. We placed these in the five stone configuration as illustrated below to give her the visuals needed for the setting. Once the stones were selected we could move onto the CAD designing using the gemstones specific measurements to create a unique setting that would fit the new band. We ensure constant communication throughout the CAD designing process to ensure we are meeting the customers brief at all stages. Once we got the customers approval for this design, the CAD was then sent off for casting  in 18 carat yellow gold, and then back to the bench for mounting together with the melted down heirloom pieces which were crafted into the shank. Meltdowns are a fantastic option to keeping hold of the sentimental aspects of heirloom pieces that may have been within families for many generations and then incorporating them into new and revived designs specific to the customer. 

A CAD design image of a five stone setting remodel commission
The detailed CAD design sent to our customer for approval before the casting process. Thorpe and Brown Ltd.

We had a selection of gemstones available for viewing during our customers appointment, she had done some research in the design ideas and layouts that she preferred the most, and with the knowledge and help of our designer we were able to collaborate to come to this final layout of stones, taking into account their colour, size and cut. The centre stone being a tourmaline, followed by green peridots and round diamonds. Gemstones come in an array of colours and sizes and have unique properties pertaining to their composition, this gives us endless design opportunities and ideas based on our customers preferences and budget.

The gemstones selected and the layout chosen by our customer in a white box
The gemstones selected and the order our customer advised she would like for the setting during our commission appointment. Thorpe & Brown Ltd

This is a progress shot taken once the metal had been melted, CAD, cast, worked and mounted together to create the ring setting ready for the stones to be securely set. You can really see the detail and precision of the CAD process here coming to life in the ring. CAD is a really valuable tool in representing the anticipated physical design and always allows for modification from the customer before final designs are approved. 

Our customer was really keen on having a five stone setting and we discussed the use of the claws to secure the stones. The claws also allow for the most amount of light to reflect through the stones at all angles really enhancing the brilliance of the gemstones. These settings also pair well with wedding bands making them perfect for an engagement ring. We also managed to create a fitted wedding band for our customer that sat snuggly in with her engagement ring and most importantly using the rest of the melted heirloom gold down, making this a truly special set.

Stones before setting meltdowns to create new rings
The handcrafted heirloom band and setting all mounted and ready for stone setting. Thorpe and Brown Ltd.

Our customer presented us with a challenge and an opportunity to produce an heirloom  piece of jewellery for them that could be continued to be enjoyed though the generations. An engagement ring and a wedding band with precious memories and meaning, repurposed but forever retaining that sentimental history and value. 

The finished piece
A beautiful five stone, repurposed, heirloom piece. Thorpe and Brown Ltd
Engagement ring and fitted wed
The engagement ring alongside the fitted wedding band all made from the melted down gold from our customers existing heirloom pieces. Thorpe and Brown Ltd.

Do you have any heirloom jewellery or design ideas to repurpose some old, sentimental pieces? Contact us in our Burbage workshop to make an appointment to discuss your ideas further.