Why I chose to upcycle jewellery on my wedding day

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Bride Rosie Goddard tells why she transformed a hatpin into earrings.

Instead of buying something new, some brides are dipping into the family jewellery box to rejuvenate something old. Newlywed Rosie Goddard tells Rachael Taylor why she turned a 1920s Lacloche hatpin into earrings for her big day.

When Rosie Goddard stood at the altar in August, hand in hand with her husband-to-be Arion Baranowski, she stood steeped in family history.

While many family and friends filled the pews of Seend church in Wiltshire to support her on her big day, she also managed to involve some relatives that could not attend the ceremony through her choice of jewellery.

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Rather than buying new earrings to match her new dress and shoes, Rosie and her mother Joanna Goddard worked together to rejuvenate a family heirloom especially for the wedding day.

The heirloom was a white gold Art Deco-style hatpin with a tear-drop shape paddle set with diamonds on either end. The hatpin was designed in the 1920s by jewellery house Lacloche Frères and has remained almost completely unused by Joanna since it came into her possession in the 1970s, handed down to her from her great aunt’s jewellery collection.

Lacloche Frères was founded in 1875 by four brothers – Fernand, Jules, Leopold and Jacques Lacloche – in Madrid and became famous in the 1920s and 1930s for Art Deco jewellery and object d’art, including brightly coloured geometric lacquered and enamelled cigarette and vanity cases set with diamonds and precious stones, and a series of pendants that depicted the fables of French poet La Fontaine.

The house went on to open stores in Madrid, Sébastian, Paris and Barriatz. During the First World War Lacloche Frères bought Fabergé’s London store and remaining stock when the Russian government repatriated the brand’s personnel and assets, and set up shop in its place. Certainly a brand with a rich history, but how wearble is it now?

“My mum has a lot of jewellery she has inherited and a lot of it is not very wearable currently,” says Rosie. “I was thinking about what earrings I wanted to wear and I knew I didn’t want small earrings, as I wasn’t going to wear any other jewellery, but I never thought about the hat pin at all. Then about three months before the wedding my mum came up with the idea.”

The Goddards decided to have the Lacloche hatpin turned into a pair of earrings for Rosie’s wedding and visited Coppins of Corsham in Wiltshire. The jeweller is a haven of more unusual precious jewellery items and the premises also acts a space for working jeweller John Coppin to create bespoke creations.

The Lacloche hatpin had been valued at £20,000 and there was some trepidation on the part of the Goddards that severing the 10cm white gold bar holding the two diamond-set paddles and breaking apart the original design to create the earrings would devalue the piece. Coppin, however, assured the mother and daughter that this was not so, explaining that the value of the piece was locked in the diamonds and gold. He said that creating a fresh, more modern and wearable design, but retaining the original setting, meant it would not affect the base value of the soon-to-be earrings.

And so the Goddards left the hatpin in the careful hands of Coppin. When they returned to collect the earrings shortly before the wedding, they were thrilled with the results. Coppin had carefully divided the hatpin in two pieces and transformed each half into an earring by adding diamond studs, which can be detached and worn individually, to the end of the stems.

“When it came back he had hinged it so that the earrings weren’t rigid, they were fluid,” says Rosie. “We had thought we could make a pair of earrings but never thought he would make the studs, so that was a real surprise.”

Rosie remembers the adoration the revived family heirloom instantly garnered from her family and friends.

“When I first put them on I was inside my mum’s house and I was moving my head from side to side and my friend Zoe and aunt Sally shouted in to say they could see the sparkle from the garden,” she says with a smile.

But the earrings meant more to Rosie than a bit of sparkle on her wedding day; they were a way to celebrate her family history as she joined with her partners’.

“I had something that has been in the family for a long time, with real sentimental value to it,” she says. “I don’t have any grandparents that are alive so the earrings were a link to my mum’s side of the family.”

Rosie’s wedding day came and went and after the last few guests had left her parent’s home, where the reception was held in the garden, she retired to her bridal suite at a nearby hotel and removed the earrings that had brought her and her family so much pleasure that day. She has since returned the earrings to her mother Joanna’s possession and the mother and daughter have agreed to share them, although Rosie is unsure as to what type of special occasion would merit removing the earrings from the jewellery box.

For Rosie the experience of upcycling was so magical that she says she would consider doing it again. “Mum had the hatpin for nearly 40 years and had hardly worn it and it seemed a shame to keep it locked up,” she says. “Now we’ve made it into something wearable that we get pleasure from now. I was worried about making a mistake but it’s been done so beautifully that it does make me think that if you can retain the value and the design then why not do it again?”

Rosie’s introduction to upcycling was driven by the sentimental allure of wearing a piece of family history and the desire for something special that could not be bought from a jeweller’s shop window. She says: “I wasn’t looking for something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, but it is something totally unique.”

 

This article was taken from the February 2011 issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. See the whole edition by clicking here.

 

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