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What Is Reworked Jewellery?

June 06, 2023

Diamonds may be forever, but fashion trends certainly aren’t. What was yesterday’s thrill is tomorrow’s bargain markdown. Thankfully, the value of metals and gems used in jewellery—along with the hours of craftsmanship involved—means that jewellery rarely gets discarded, even if its design may have fallen out of style. 

But, what if there was a way to revitalise these old jewellery pieces into something new and exciting, while maintaining the original soul that made the piece special the day it was made?

Welcome to the world of jewellery reworking. In fact, some of today’s hottest jewellery designers are putting reworked antique jewellery at the centre of their most sought-after pieces. Nowhere is this more true than with custom-made jewellery in Melbourne.


Playing with Provenance: The Origins of Reworked Jewellery

They say that all the gold ever mined in the history of mankind would fit into a cube slightly bigger than twenty metres on each side. That’s not a lot, so jewellers are always careful to reuse metals and gems whenever possible. 

Jewellery has been reworked since time immemorial, especially in times that predated modern mining and refining techniques. This was when gems and metals were even more precious than they are now. Reworking jewellery used to be an everyday occurrence, not something done as a special request. 

Along the Silk Road, jewellery of every imaginable origin was traded, bartered, and smuggled to the far corners of the known world. Upon arrival at its destination, the new owners may not have liked the colours of a particular gem, and they may have had it replaced by local jewellers using gems popular to the region and the trends of the day. 

Jewellery reworking, and craftsmanship in general, truly exploded during the Renaissance period. While DaVinci was painting stunning works commissioned by the famous Medici family in Florence, famous jewellers, such as Benvenuto Cellini, were busy adorning Medici family members in shockingly beautiful pieces of jewellery. These pieces continued to amaze onlookers well into the modern age in museums and private collections throughout the world. 

Many pieces created during this time were shaped from the ground up as unique pieces, but many more were reworked pieces passed down through generations of wealthy families. Wanting to preserve wealth while creating something new is a tradition that continues today. 

Breathtaking pieces of bespoke jewellery can be formed out of once-treasured jewellery and modified to fit modern standards of beauty, and, of course, the personal preferences of which jewellery colour suits you, the buyer.


Reworked Jewellery Today

Reworked jewellery has seen a resurgence, thanks to a plethora of heirlooms being handed down from baby boomers and their parent’s generation. Australian designer earrings, rings, and pendants from the 1920s through the 1970s are being reworked and reimagined, breathing new life into long-forgotten pieces of family jewellery.

Yesterday’s treasures can still be treasured today, thanks to modern techniques that allow jewellers to handcraft new works of art with a level of detail completely unimaginable when the piece was originally conceived.

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