Jewelry lost, found and recreated

We’ve all lost or left behind a favorite piece of jewelry. These tools just may be the antidote to our forgetfulness.

Looking through my jewelry drawer, I recently recovered my “singles pouch,” a  Ziploc bag with close to 10 unique earrings, each missing its respective partner. I have left jewelry remnants of myself in Los Angeles and Berlin, not to mention a few 737s. Yet even when I know my earring’s other half is a continent away, I can never quite bear to toss out the surviving earring, so there it sits in my pouch, yearning for a partner that is definitely not returning.

There is, of course, another category of jewelry loss that is almost more painful: the completely lost piece of jewelry. Cue the necklace I had placed on the nightstand in my Portland hotel room, and forgot as I woke up at 4:30 am to catch my flight. Or the bracelet I had taken off while washing my hands which had disappeared when I returned to the washroom hours later. Or the jewelry item I had placed in a “special secret” place – so well hidden that three years later, I still have not recovered it.

We all lose things. It seems to be part of the human condition. The best antidote to our absentmindedness, then, is to learn tricks that can help us hold on to our belongings, and, in the case of especially meaningful pieces, soften the blow in the case of a loss. Luckily, there are many such tools of the trade.


Mindfulness on the move


It is by losing a piece of jewelry that I became aware of how to be more conscious, and change my behavior to reduce the possibility of the loss occurring in the first place. When I prepared for my last trip to a friend’s wedding in southern France (involving an 8-hour flight in coach, followed by buses, trains and a boat and at least 5 different overnight accommodations) I could assess the risk well in advance. Red alert: high risk probability of loss! It would be a major achievement to keep my baggage at my side, let alone my smaller accessories.

Travel adds more distractions, more fatigue, and therefore more possibilities for something to go wrong. Jewelry can be quickly forgotten when flights are delayed, weather turns or we need to promptly deal with a host of other challenges. So, I have a few travel commandments that help me be mindful:

  1. Perfect the pouch. Designate a zippered compartment for jewelry while traveling. Each time you remove a piece of jewelry, place it there—then keep the pouch secured and out of sight.
  2. 1, 2, 3. Count the number of jewelry items you plan to bring on your trip. Each morning and night, check that all pieces are accounted for.
  3. Take it off. During sports, day trips, adventure travel or other activities where you are likely to remove or damage jewelry, opt to keep it safely stowed away.

Thus mindfulness is a buzzword that can not only improve health, but also help us combat our likelihood to leave things behind.


Repair and safety-proof your jewelry


We also need to acknowledge that accessories are not invincible. Even jewelry with the sturdiest of appearances can be deceiving.

Seth Rosen, a jeweler and co-founder of CustomMade, a firm that creates custom and commissioned fine jewelry, observes, “Jewelry made out of metal is not invincible. The metal is often softer than the surfaces and items it comes into contact with during daily wear. Over time, the wear adds up and can cause stones to loosen or fall out. We often see rings and are amazed they are intact as the stone is literally held in by one-tenth the amount of metal required, simply from long-standing wear. A quick inspection often reveals issues (such as retipping prongs) that aren’t that expensive to fix, but could easily save a stone from loss or damage.”

Owners of earrings, rings and any jewelry item with prongs holding stones in place can benefit by having a jeweler inspect pieces every few years.

Of course, remember your necklaces, bracelets and bangles as well. Seth advises that for adornments to necks and arms, “our standard procedure is to add a removable safety chain that is subtle and adds a margin of safety in case there is a failure of the clasp or fastening mechanism.”

Increased awareness and safety-proofing your favorite jewelry items are both positive risk management steps that decrease the possibility of losing a piece you love.


Recreating jewelry: the real and the commissioned


Even if the prongs holding the emerald of your grandmother’s ring in place are solid, it is not an accessory well-suited to your snorkeling vacation in the Maldives. So why not have that emerald ring re-created with a cheaper stone, so you can wear it while you are away? This way, you won’t be devastated when the stone cracks because you slammed your hand against a coral reef.

Bespoke engagement ring with custom commissioned copies

A bespoke engagement ring (left) and commissioned copies (right). The copies can be worn instead of the original during hiking, yoga, travel or other activities to help keep the original safe from damage. Image: Courtesy of Custom Made.

Thanks to new technology, options for reduced-worry, but ever-elegant attire now exist. In fact, some jewelers specialize in creating copies of clients’ valuable jewelry.

Seth mentions one of many examples his firm has encountered. “A customer designed a custom engagement ring with very delicate curls of metal holding an aquamarine center stone. Yet he also realized its fragile design might not hold up to his fiancée’s active lifestyle (she is a yoga instructor, and avid hiker). So he had us create her engagement ring in white gold with a slightly more conservative prong design, as well as have us create a set of less expensive versions (in silver) of the original design that she could wear without fear or worry.”

Although many requests to recreate jewelry are for engagement and wedding rings, some clients are turning to jewelers to recreate valuable or heirloom jewelry. It isn’t only million-dollar diamond necklaces that can be remade in cubic zirconia, but beloved heirloom pieces, signet rings, historic brooches or any other jewelry that speaks to you.


Bouncing back with jewelry insurance


If, despite all your best efforts, your jewelry does end up misplaced or damaged, a well-crafted collectibles policy can save the day. Certain insurers specialize in helping to protect fine jewelry, and can offer advice on proactively managing your collection in addition to offering specialty coverages.

Mindfulness gets you most of the way, but having a spare ring that mimics the original design of your beloved piece of jewelry, and properly insuring both original and recreated pieces, lets you focus on swimming with the dolphins rather than avoiding the waves.


Katja Zigerlig is Vice President, Art Wine + Collectibles Advisory at Berkley One (a Berkley Company).