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Sparkling stories

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sentiment and jewelry go together. When it comes to symbolizing life’s turning points, it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s restoring a family treasure or buying a new piece.

Elliott Mark Shelton, a designer at Shelton Jewelers in Albuquerque, says recently he’s been replicating family heirloom jewelry, often resetting the original diamonds and other jewels, but keeping the look of the ring the same.

“A customer wanted to wear her great-grandmother’s ring, so this is what we did,” he says, displaying images of the original ring with its worn gold and the new ring that sparkles with all the brilliance of the original diamonds and sapphires in an 18-karat white gold setting.

Another client, widowed three times, had all of her wedding jewelry combined into one ring to symbolize all the loves in her life, he says. Each of those remakes was about $2,200.

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Jewelry, even a less expensive ornament, is always a thoughtful way to convey meaning, no matter the event.

Recently, another customer bought her brother an engraved Torgoen pilot’s watch to commemorate the end of a tour of duty and his safe return to the United States, says Erica Shelton, the company’s marketing director. The symbolic gift was less than $1,000, she adds.

Ron Beauchamp of Beauchamp Jewelers in Albuquerque says wearing jewelry is primordial: “We humans have always adorned ourselves with precious metal and stone.”

He says that many couples buy an anniversary band studded with diamonds to celebrate their marriage – with an eye to passing it along to a daughter, daughter-in-law or granddaughter. Beauchamp designs bands that start around $2,800.

He also has a vintage collection with pieces imbued with their own special history.

Datejust women’s bracelet watch with 18-carat gold scattered diamond bezel and mother-of-pearl dial, $14,500 at Beauchamp. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)

A 1920s diamond and platinum ring, about 0.40 carats and $2,950, could become an engagement ring or a symbol of another event, he says.

Another vintage choice for gentlemen is a 1965 Rolex that its owner wore while bicycling across Australia twice. New, it likely cost about $200 but now has a price tag of $5,600, Beauchamp says, because of its collectibility.

The Rolex, like the others in the cabinet, old and new, have plenty of endurance for many more adventures.

Jewelry collects history, he says. “They all have stories to tell. Part of the value of jewelry is that can be passed down: Each generation can add its own story.”

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