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By Alice Lesch Kelly
| March 14, 2018
When Susan’s mother died at the age of 95 two years ago, she put away the diamond engagement ring she’d inherited from her mother. “It made me sad to look at it,” Susan said. “Seeing it brought back too many memories.”
But then recently, Susan, who asked that her last name not be used, decided she was ready to take the ring back out. She wanted to wear it — just not as a ring. So she took it to Joseph Gann Jewelers in Downtown Crossing, a family-owned business started in 1933, where she talked through her options with the owners Matt and Josh Gann.
“I wanted to have it reset so I could wear it and not have it sitting in a drawer,” Susan said while visiting the jewelry store downtown. After considering a range of different choices, she decided to have her mother’s diamond set into a necklace. The Ganns placed the stone in a platinum setting surrounded with a halo of smaller diamonds.
“My mother would have loved this necklace,” Susan said. “She had great style. She loved clothes and jewelry, and she was a great believer in wearing what you have.”
Reset your stone, reset your life
Resetting diamonds and other gemstones into new jewelry designs is a growing trend, according to Josh Gann. “People inherit diamonds from their mothers or grandmothers,” he said. “There’s sentiment attached to the stones, but they may not like the setting. They want to have the stone set into another ring, a necklace, or earrings. We’re seeing it a lot lately.”
His business knows a little something about handing down from one generation to the next. In 1933, at the peak of the Great Depression, Joseph Gann opened a small watch repair shop in the Jewelers Building in downtown Boston. He had been making $48 per week at his old job but was told his salary had to be cut to $15 per week, so instead he branched out on his own by repairing watches that needed constant winding to remain on time. He worked until he was 98 years old, and saw his son, Herb, and then his grandchildren, Matt, Josh, and Elisa eventually take over ownership of the business and help continue its expansion from watches to diamonds and jewelry.
Jewelry styles, as the Ganns have seen, change over the years, and older rings and necklaces don’t necessarily appeal to modern tastes. For example, yellow gold was popular for ring settings in the 1980s, but most people today prefer white gold or platinum. “Resetting a stone allows it to look fresher and more contemporary,” Gann says.
Resetting a stone can even give it a different shape. “Sometimes people have gemstones they don’t wear because they don’t like the shape. But that can be changed,” Josh Gann says. “With the right setting design, we can make a round diamond look square, or change the appearance of the shape of a marquise diamond. And a halo of small diamonds can make a diamond look larger. There are so many things we can do to give a stone a different look.”
A whole new look was what Wendy, a longtime Gann customer who also asked that her last name not be used, was looking for when she decided to pair her mother’s engagement diamond with two others to create a three-stone necklace. Wendy’s mother’s diamond had been cut in the “old mine” style when her mother married in the 1940s, and it was important to Wendy to have the new stones match her mother’s diamond.
“The Ganns did an extensive search to find two other stones that are very similar to it with the old mine cut,” Wendy said. “The three stones look absolutely beautiful together.”
Gemstones can also find new life in classic settings. Gann customers can browse through a breathtaking stock of original vintage ring settings dating from as far back as the 1930s. “Stones can be set in vintage settings, or the settings can be used as a basis for a new design,” says Matt Gann. “Sometimes people don’t know what kind of setting they want, and looking at these old settings helps them figure that out.”
Joseph Gann Jewelers is one of the few places with such a wide selection of vintage ring settings. “Most jewelers have old settings like these melted down, but over the years we held on to them,” Matt Gann says. “People are amazed to see so many vintage settings.”
Giving your jewelry a fresh start
Having a diamond or other gemstone reset into a new piece of jewelry gives the stone a fresh start. But for many women, resetting a stone also marks their own fresh start. It can commemorate a milestone birthday, a significant anniversary, or launch a new marriage.
The decision to reset a stone represents a willingness to embrace change and choose happiness in a proactive way. “It’s really easy for us to be very reactive in our lives, rather than proactive,” says Barbara Wasserman, a licensed social worker and midlife transition coach in Lexington. “We tend to let the world dictate how we spend our days and what we want to accomplish. But it’s so important to look at and reevaluate who is driving the train of your life.”
Wasserman advises her clients to set aside time once a year to complete a life inventory and create a roadmap of goals for the next year. Doing so provides the space to make mindful choices about what will bring joy, rather than thoughtlessly defaulting to the status quo.
Having gemstones reset can be a source of great joy, according to Wasserman. She’s seen it with her clients, and in her own family as well. When her mother-in-law died years ago, the family put her jewelry in a vault, but they recently took it out to divide among her five granddaughters.
“The girls kept a pair of earrings in the vault for each girl to wear at her own wedding so that they all could have Grandma with them on that day,” Wasserman says. “They then took stones out of rings and pins to reset so that each of them had a special piece from their grandmother. It made the girls so happy.”
To reach Joseph Gann Jewelers with a question about your stone, visit their website.