The first time I met our wonderful client featured here, I was struck by her elegance and utter grace. She had sought us out to design a gorgeous vintage sapphire ring that she had scouted online, only to have the ring suddenly become unavailable before she could purchase it. With her heart set on the style, she came to us to design a custom interpretation of it.
Since then, our client (who has opted to remain anonymous for the interview) has worked with us on a few restoration projects and other small bits here and there. Then, she reached out with a new design idea: to reset a gorgeous jade pendant with extra special meaning to her. We were honored to be chosen for this highly sentimental project, and once it was completed, we were bowled over by how beautiful it turned out. To learn more about the story behind this special pendant, read on for my interview with a favorite client, “G”:
G, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
G: My husband and I are both musicians; we live in Maryland, in a formerly rural area south of D.C., and spend as much time as we can in nearby cities, either for our own performances or for the vibe. And we have two wonderful grown daughters.
You brought us a unique jade pendant to redesign. Can you tell us about the history and meaning of this piece?
G: Our family came into being through adoption. When I traveled to China to meet our younger daughter, it was such a special, sweet time. The people I met there were kind and welcoming. The legal process took two weeks, enough time to begin to bond with our baby before the long trip home. I purchased the jade pendant as a memento of the trip. I was intrigued by the look of the “water” jade – its delicate color and semi-transparency, the curved shape of it, and the cool, smooth feel of it in my fingers.
The original setting, as I remember it, was quite basic – just a twisted wire type bale. Why did you opt to have it reset?
G: I had always wanted to give the jade a setting that was romantic and personal.
What was the inspiration for the design you chose?
G: The jade piece is a carving of a plum, so it seemed right to have the gold disc that holds the jade plum engraved with plum blossoms. Plums and plum blossoms are beloved in China and are often seen in Chinese art. Because plum trees bloom in late winter and early spring, often before the winter snows have melted, plum blossoms symbolize perseverance, hope, and the transitory nature of life. I love handmade objects, so I find it appealing that the jade was hand-carved and the gold disc is (very beautifully) hand engraved.
Together, we picked out a beautiful cabochon-cut ruby to complement the jade. Why did you decide to pair the pendant with a ruby?
G: To my eye, the deep red of the ruby sets off the soft gray/green color of the jade pendant, without overwhelming it. And in China, the color red symbolizes good fortune, joy, and happiness.
I know the diamonds in the piece also have meaning to you. Can you tell us about those?
G: The diamonds were re-purposed from a piece of jewelry that had been my mother’s. So, it’s truly a family piece. I have a special memento of our first adoption, too, and eventually these items will pass to my daughters, so each will have a keepsake of her arrival in the family.
How do you plan to wear the pendant now that it’s finished?
G: I’m a great believer in wearing and enjoying beautiful things, so although I wouldn’t say that the lovely necklace is a casual, everyday piece, it will not languish in a drawer! For one thing, I’m sure to wear it when I perform, and for other work and dressy occasions.
For someone who has never worked on a custom jewelry project before, how would you describe the process to them? Do you have any suggestions for someone starting fresh?
G: I really appreciate the way we worked on this project together, taking our time and thinking creatively. It helped a lot to see the preliminary renderings, so we could make adjustments to the design before it went to the workshop. The way you set up appointments allows for the process to feel unhurried, which is important for a successful result. And that’s my suggestion to someone starting fresh: take your time thinking about your project and be ready to take your time working out the design. That way, the process can be an adventure that is part of the story of the finished piece.
Thank you, G! We love working with you on these beautiful pieces of art.
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.
121-B South Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Design Studio Walk-In Hours (all jewelry services): Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm
Silver Workshop Walk-In Hours (all silver repair and restoration services): Wednesday or Friday 12-6pm, or by appointment
Appointments encouraged for custom design.