“We met at OOAK Chicago,” Heidi recalled, “and I never forgot you!”
Wow, how often do you hear that? But I remembered Heidi too, and that’s what I love most about live events, meeting amazing, smart and beautiful women, like Heidi. It reminds me of the good side of humanity.
Several months after OOAK Chicago, Heidi invited me to be a vendor at her event, Fashion Matters Chicago. This year’s theme was Jackie Kennedy, with an emphasis on pearls. Heidi remembered my exotic statement necklaces and the Pearl Girl Collection on my website. She thought my jewelry would be a great fit for the event, and asked me to focus on the theme…pearls.
Fashion Matters Chicago, is an event that helps women enhance their dignity and beauty, through fashion choices. It was an amazing day and event. I met some incredible women, including Heidi’s daughter Liz, who is a rep with Rodin & Fields Skincare. She’s also a marketing consultant and screenwriter. Busy lady! When we weren’t chatting with customers, Liz and I spent the day laughing, sharing experiences and stories. She is just as lovely as her mom Heidi.
Later, after seeing my pearl collection, Heidi was reminded of a strand of pearls that had belonged to her mother. It was sadly tucked away in her jewelry box, gathering dust. Her wheels began turning, as she imagined the possibilities for those forgotten pearls. This was the start to our epic, heirloom update.
When Liz got wind of the collaboration, she remembered me from the event, and wanted to join the fun too.
In addition to the pearls, Heidi had many other pieces that once belonged to her mom, including a simple strand of jade. Suddenly Liz was wishing for a redesigned piece for herself, and Heidi was thrilled that her daughter wanted something to remember her grandmother by. “Pearls are more for my generation” Heidi said. The jade seemed more appropriate for the younger generation like Liz’s.
Several beautiful pieces came out of this redesign
Heidi’s double strand of Keshi pearls came from a single long strand she had purchased long ago on vacation. A once very plain necklace, stuck in a drawer, now has a whole new life. The resulting double-strand necklace is elegantly fresh with a modern twist.
For Liz, we used the single strand of jade to create a shorter necklace (more to her liking), with a beautiful sterling silver focal piece. I added a sterling silver toggle clasp in the back, that’s pretty enough to wear in front. It’s like 2 necklaces in one! There were enough jade pieces to make 2-pairs of earrings, one for Liz, and a 2nd pair for her sister Mary. They will share the necklace, and along with the earrings, keep their grandmother’s memory close at heart.
Liz recently recollected that her grandmother had a lot of Asian art, and the jade stone is a beautiful reminder of her grandmother’s art collection. An unexpected sentiment.
Throughout the process, I’d jump on a Zoom call with Heidi and Liz, to get their input on the design process. This is not only important to the outcome, but it’s really fun too!
This drawer, full of forgotten, unworn jewelry, gave birth to more heirloom updates
Liz recalled that her mom periodically would pull out all of her grandmother’s jewelry, and they’d all sit around and look at it, marveling at its beauty. Then she’d put it right back in the drawer, where it stayed until next time. Recently, Heidi got tired of it all just sitting there. “It’s time to give them new life, and let everyone feel a connection to the past."
Heidi had a gold charm bearing her high school crest that her mom had bought her. It hung from a plain gold chain, and Heidi had not worn it since she was a teenager. Using pearls from a strand that belonged to Heidi’s mom, I added some gold elements, alternating with the pearls, creating an entirely new look to compliment the gold charm. Heidi loves it so much, she’s planning to wear it to her 50th high school reunion this year.
Using the same strand of pearls, I designed a modern, classy, double-strand, featuring a sterling silver “chex mix” embellishment, and also a statement necklace, with pearls and black onyx beads. Heidi has already selected outfits to wear with her stunning new pieces.
There’s a certain level of trust involved in an heirloom update
I don’t take this lightly. After all, you are handing over pieces with deep sentimental value, otherwise why would you still have them? Often, I wonder if people are nervous about trusting me with their jewelry, even though it’s just sitting in a drawer. It might feel scary to let me take it apart and alter it. I understand, which is why I take the utmost care, treating your pieces as if they belonged to my own mom or grandmother. Heidi wasn’t worried, “I’m a good judge of character” she said, “and I trusted Barb with my pieces”.
At a time when many of us are still sheltering in place, we’re cleaning, fixing, doing home improvements, and looking for ways to be productive, creative and useful. This is THE perfect time to do an heirloom update. What hidden treasures do you have? Go right now and open that drawer, pull out those pieces, and contact me today so we can bring them back to life.
Watch the LIVE interview with Heidi and Liz...