Courtesy of Jonne Amaya

How Jewelry Designer Jonne Amaya Is Transforming Family Heirlooms Into Something Fresh

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More often than not, the start of a growing jewelry collection begins with items passed down through your family. These heirloom pieces typically hold a sentimental value that makes them priceless. However, while some may transcend the test of time as unfailing classics in your collection, others may feel out of date or misaligned with your personal style. These baubles tend to keep a spot in your jewelry box and go on unworn — and when that’s the case, it’s tempting to find them a new home. But thanks to jewelry designer Jonne Amaya, you’ll be able to wear them in an entirely new way — literally.

Amaya — who works with her clients to repurpose their unworn jewelry with fresh, custom designs — aims to provide everyone with a new perspective on heirloom jewelry. “There are so many cases where clients have inherited a piece and just wear it because they know it’s valuable and because of the meaning it holds,” the Los Angeles-based designer shares with TZR in an email. “A lot of times it’s simply because of that rather than because they like the design and wear it as a fashion statement.” Amaya goes on to explain that through the process of repurposing their jewelry, clients can maintain the meaning of the original piece while giving it a new look that you’ll want to wear with everything. “You can literally hold onto the sentimental value but just in a new design you’ll enjoy and that was custom made for you.”

Courtesy of Jonne Amaya

The concept of repurposing jewelry first came to Amaya when she started creating designs on the bench at the Academia de Orfebres in Mexico City. Her first few pieces were made using metals melted from the jewelry she received from her grandmother. Since then, she’s become focused on designing sustainable, one-of-a-kind jewelry using only recycled gold and stones from old pieces. “I think our generation is a lot more conscious about what we consume, and we are educated enough to know that mass production of any sort is very damaging. Repurposing is great because it’s the healthiest way to approach this industry, and the outcome is beautiful and high end.”

When clients are ready to turn their jewelry into something new, the designer carefully deconstructs and evaluates each piece before starting the custom design process. “Usually we start a mood board to get a feel for the vibe, and then we make alterations so that each piece makes sense in regards to the stones and materials they have,” she says. While each piece will have Amaya’s bold and metal-prominent influence, the designer ensures that the creative process is incredibly inclusive for the client, resulting in a piece that embodies their style.

Courtesy of Jonne Amaya
Courtesy of Jonne Amaya
Courtesy of Jonne Amaya

Once the designer has an idea for her client's style, she'll then create 3D renderings (like the above) of what she can create using the jewelry provided. Pieces can be tweaked from these images before the final casting.

For Amaya, redesigning fine jewelry is a natural step in creating a collection of pieces that last over time. “I’m a firm believer that the saying ‘out with the old and in with the new’ is a terrible mindset. I think we should always prioritize taking what we already have and finding new purpose for it.”

In addition to giving old jewelry new life, Amaya's process of repurposing embodies a sustainable approach to jewelry design. Using recycled gold provided by her customers as well as stones from old pieces, Amaya and her clients minimize their need for any new mining — a practice in the jewelry industry that can be harmful to the environment..

Creating a custom new piece using your old or unworn jewelry starts at $1,500 with additional costs for labor and material. Amaya's 3D renders of your new piece are part of a non-refundable $250 deposit, which will go towards the final price of your jewelry. If you would like to work with Amaya new custom pieces using your old or unworn jewelry, you can contact the designer at her website.