Many people have delicate lady’s gold wristwatches languishing unloved and never worn in the back of their jewel box. It’s not for lack of its personal history, or even for its lack of sentimental attachment. Watches from a certain time, likely from the late 1950s until the early 1970s were delicate little confections prized by their owners.
Times changed, and so did the preferences of watch aficionados. Brand named, oversized, and bejeweled watches pushed smaller ones out of the limelight and also out of vogue. But we can’t get rid of these cherished relics which hold so many memories, can we? By the 2020s many of the original wearers were now gone, making them even more precious. But nobody wears them anymore. If one wants to know the time, they check their handheld device.
A Watch Revolution
It’s time for a watch revolution, according to Matthew Valentine, goldsmith at Chadwick’s Jewelers on St. Simons Island, GA. Valentine has been quietly creating watch conversions for at least a decade. He swaps the chronometer element for sparkling diamonds or gemstones which breathe new life and new utility into the dainty timepieces. Now, they don’t tell time, but they do tell a new story of personal style for the wearer. They transcend their outmoded use for a dazzling second act as an adored and highly personalized piece of jewelry. And really, they still carry with them all the emotional influence that they once did in their heyday.
“The first watch conversion I ever did was probably 10 years ago,” Valentine says. “It was a client’s Lady Hamilton watch and we put an oval blue sapphire in it,” he recalls. But Valentine couldn’t imagine he was starting a trend. “I didn’t really think anything of it at the time. Fast forward to a year and a half ago, and we had a client come in with a watch and I did another,” he claims. Valentine explains that because the client was so thrilled, he posted it on social media.
That item quickly garnered so much commentary, he knew they were on to something. Chadwick’s began doing these watch conversions for stock. “One sold out of the case,” Valentine shared, “but they actually made more money for us being in the case, as they sparked interest.”
Upcycling & Reimagining
The solution for what to do with these sentimental pieces evidently struck a major chord with Chadwick’s clientele. “The great thing is that the client gets to preserve a piece of family history and they get a gold bracelet without having to pay extra for the gold, along with upcycling it.” And today’s jewelry consumers are more drawn to upcycling now than ever, he finds. “It’s also profitable for us as it ends up creating revenue in labor as well as in colored stone sales,” Valentine says. “Even the smallest face lady’s watch can be expensive putting a single diamond in it, but we do cluster styles as well.”
This genius conversion offers countless variations. “Colored stones are much more affordable in larger sizes than diamonds, so if they want a larger single stone, it drives colored stone sales very well,” he tells us.
It’s a trend ripe for the times, Valentine believes. “I think it will continue to build, especially with rising gold prices.” Demographics plays a key role in the popularity of this trend, of course. “We have a larger population of older, well-to-do clients,” Valentine points out, “who have generational jewelry and watches that they want to keep in the family.”
Award winning trade journalist and gemologist Diana Jarrett is a Registered Master Valuer Appraiser and a member of the Association of Independent Jewellery Valuers (AIJV). She’s a popular speaker at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett writes for trade and consumer publications, online outlets, her blog: Color-n-Ice, and www.jewelrywebsitedesigners.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit her website at www.dianajarrett.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (Loupey).