Giving thanks and memories: Tips for passing down heirloom jewelry

Pass down your beloved gems

As we enter the holiday season, chances are you’ll be getting together with family members. This is also a time when we think about passing down pieces of heirloom jewelry, silver, or other precious items to others.

The Wall Street Journal reported that “baby boomers and elder Americans say personal keepsakes, family stories and last wishes are a far more important bequest than money.” When we give a beloved piece to a child, grandchild, niece/nephew, or friend, we’re also passing along our personal history and a sense of connection.

Before you pass along your heirlooms, here are some tips to keep in mind to make the process easier:

A little planning goes a long way. Take a moment while it’s quiet to go through your jewelry box and see what you feel comfortable parting with. If it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, consider giving it (along with joy) to a family member.

Make it meaningful. Write a brief letter/note that explains your emotional tie to the piece and include any photos you may have. This way, the recipient will know why the piece is so important to you and the family history.

An appraisal can help

Include the paperwork. If you have a recent appraisal, be sure to give it along with the jewelry. If you don’t have one, and you think the piece may be valuable, let them know about the importance of an appraisal and help them get started.

Spell it out. If you’re not ready to part with your heirloom jewelry, make sure that your family knows about your plans for them. This can bypass hard feelings and disputes later.

Make it equitable. Yes, giving your beloved costume jewelry necklace with lots of sentimental value to your younger daughter may be meaningful, but if your older daughter gets a beautiful strand of pearls, you may be setting the scene for hard feelings. Again, getting an appraisal can help balance the scale.

Look through your jewelry box

Be practical. Younger relatives may not appreciate your precious silver ice bucket, even though it was a gift from your great-aunt Anna. Think about their life styles and don’t hesitate to ask them honestly if they’d like a certain piece.

Enjoy your family holidays and revel in the warmth of passing along your history, values, and stories to the next generation. And let me know what wonderful memories you’re continuing to create with your heirloom jewelry!

Thankfully yours, Aimee

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