Precious Heirlooms by Denise Nelson GG (GIA)

DenisePrecious Heirlooms – A voice from the past & possibly into the future…

Denise took us on a walk through history both personal and global as she melded her gemology and genealogy back grounds into a wonderful discussion of what makes an heirloom.

Searching for answers – Jewelry is not merely adornment, it is family history, emotional attachments and memories. Each ring, pendant, bracelet or earring holds memories, that can help tell the jewelry’s story, the manufacturing techniques, fashion trends and styles all have a reference to a time, place and state of mind.

The jewelry of Real People always have a story worth being remembered, appreciated, and handed down to future heirs. Documentation is important in order to know; Who it belonged to? Who owns it now? Why was it given? Birth – Engagement – Wedding – Graduation – Birthday


Original boxes are important as they detail the manufacturer and date, original receipts provide price, while hand written notes to the recipient tell a story. Take the time to write a note giving details for each piece of your precious jewelry, the note provides context and may very well make the jewelry more cherished by your heirs.

Cultural Background has a deep impact on the type of jewelry imparted to family members. It tells the century, cultural influences, family status, country and possibly the religion. Whether beads, pearls, silver, gold, turquoise or other materials, it chronicles the available metals and tools used by the society making the jewelry. The cut of a gemstone often provides insight into the age, as more complex facets became capable relatively recently.

Jewelry embraces diversity, the tasks, hobbies and interests of the owner. Were they from a farming or nomadic society? Hunters or Gatherers? Is it a Talisman for healing or warding against evil?

Birthstones are often the first gemstones to find their way into a family collection, promising Health, love, wisdom or hope to the wearer.

DCGIA Chapter members thank Denise for sharing with us!

Summary by Charles Marts – Secretary DCGIA

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