When choosing jewellery for ourselves, we typically consider our own tastes and preferences. For others, we think about what they would like, choose a timeless style, or pick a piece that symbolises a special moment. And sometimes, we think of all these factors - particularly when we choose generational jewellery that will accessorise our loved ones for years to come.

Jewellery is a fabulous heirloom to bring into your family. Not only is it beautiful and valuable, but it can carry great emotional significance too. From inheriting a necklace worn by a beloved relative to proposing with your mother’s engagement ring or wearing a bracelet that carries years of personal history, the passing on of a family heirloom is often magical and touching. 

If you’re looking to select an exquisite piece of jewellery to pass down through your family, we’re here to guide you through this sentimentally significant choice. We’ll advise you on the timeless pieces that will stay stylish in years to come, how to personalise for extra meaning and how to preserve the splendour of family jewellery for generation after generation. 

What Makes Jewellery Generational?

Generational jewellery is an item of jewellery that has value and significance to a family or community and is therefore passed down through generations as an heirloom. These pieces are often valuable investment pieces, however, and they can become heirlooms due to their sentimental value alone. 

What Makes Jewellery Timeless?

When choosing a piece of jewellery to be worn for generations, you’ll want to consider whether future generations will want to wear the piece. This means selecting truly magnificent jewellery that transcends period-specific fashion.

Our considerations for selecting timeless jewellery are:

  • Current styles: Can the piece be worn with different existing fashions? This is a strong indicator that it will adapt beautifully to future fashions too. 
  • Colour: With gemstone jewellery, you want to consider whether the colour of a stone will make it difficult to wear with multiple outfits. This is why traditional diamonds are a safe and stunning choice for family jewellery, as their clear hue means that they pair well with almost anything.
  • Relevance: Avoid designs and styles that are hyper-specific to the modern day, as these may be dated when you choose to pass your piece on. You should also avoid choosing a gemstone purely because it is popular right now, opting instead for classic jewels like rubies or emeralds that have been worn for centuries. 
  • Emotional significance: If a piece has strong enough sentimental value and emotional significance, it will be cherished regardless of fleeting fashions.

Which Metal is Best for Generational Jewellery?

Gold is an amazingly durable metal - just head to your local museum, and you’ll see excellently preserved examples dating back thousands of years. That’s because gold is one of the least reactive elements, so air, water, acids and alkalis don’t result in it rusting, corroding, or developing a patina.  For this reason, gold jewellery is a superb choice for a generational piece.

We advise choosing solid gold jewellery over gold plated for your heirloom, as the plate can wear away over time, leaving a less durable metal exposed to the elements. 

A Brief History Of Gold Jewellery

Which Types of Jewellery Are Ideal as Generational Pieces?

The piece you choose as your heirloom should be the one that will hold significance for your family over the years. However, if you’re struggling to decide, the following pieces are wonderfully timeless and sure to be adored by whoever owns them. 

Diamond Earrings

Diamond earrings are stunning fashion staples that have been loved for centuries for their sparkle and glamour. Plus, they pair well with a number of fashions and styles, from formal wear to bright, vintage dresses all the way through to nightclub attire. 

Pendant Necklaces

A necklace is a perfect choice for a generational piece as it will often fit multiple shapes and sizes of people, meaning there is minimal need for resizing as it passes down the generations. Below are a few recommendations for pendants that make a lovely choice for family jewellery.

Religious Pendants

For families of faith, a gorgeous gold pendant depicting a significant religious symbol can be a charming way to pass religious tradition down the generations.

Our cross pendants would make a beautiful Christian generational piece, whilst our elegant Star of David pendants would be a heartwarming heirloom to pass on at Bat and Bar Mitzvahs. 

Solitaire Diamonds

The sophisticated simplicity of a solitaire diamond pendant makes it exquisitely timeless and wearable with an array of outfits. The crystal-clear colour prevents any potential colour clashes, and the significant historical value of the stone means it’s sure to become a prized possession. 


Lockets are a perfect pendant for creating a personalised family necklace. Simply place a treasured photo inside so that the pendant carries a piece of family history for wearers to feel a part of for years to come. 

Gold Bracelets

These unisex pieces can elegantly accessorise descendants of any gender, making them an excellent family jewellery choice. Another marvellously versatile piece, a gold bracelet can be dressed up or dressed down with ease. 

Tennis Bracelets

Another style of jewellery that has stood the test of time, a tennis bracelet will add glitter and glamour to the wrists of your family for generations.

Eternity Rings

These spectacular rings boast gemstones all around the band, creating an eternal circle of sparkling jewels. Often used as engagement rings, Eternity rings can also be used to symbolise eternal family love. 

How Can I Make Jewellery More Personal for Future Generations?

Want to ensure that your generational piece is incredibly unique to your family? At Hatton Jewellers, we have a few options available to help anyone create a timeless piece.

One option is to have a piece of personalised family jewellery specially designed. This is a service we proudly offer at our Chelmsford showroom with the help of computer-aided design software. Through CAD software, we can show you how your piece will look before it is made, allowing for a collaborative process where you can bring forward any changes that you’d like to make.

Another option for personalised family jewellery is engraving. For this, we recommend a solid gold piece such as a bangle or ring. You can then engrave any words that are significant to your family, such as a family motto, prayer verse, words of inspiration for the next generation or simply your family name. 

In our helpful guide, learn more about customising gold jewellery.

How do I Ensure the Longevity of Generational Jewellery?

Preserve your spectacular family jewellery so that it sparkles just as brightly for the next generation with our simple tips below. 

Spring Cleaning Tips To Keep Your Jewellery Sparkling

Is it Safe to Wear Generational Jewellery Every Day?

Wearing your generational jewellery daily is safe, provided you keep it well-cleaned and polished and avoid wearing it during the following tasks:

  • Gardening: Stones or tools may scratch the piece.
  • Swimming: Both chlorine and salt water can be damaging.
  • Cleaning: To avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Using aerosols: Products like hairspray or strong deodorant can also contain jewellery-damaging chemicals.
  • Sports and outdoor pursuits: To avoid the piece being knocked or scraped. 

Cleaning Generational Jewellery

To clean your family jewellery:

  1. Soak in warm (not hot) water and mild detergent.
  2. Brush with a toothbrush labelled with ‘soft’ or ‘extra soft’ bristles.
  3. Let the jewellery air dry, then polish it with a lint-free cloth.

You can learn more in our guide to cleaning and caring for gold jewellery

How Often Should Generational Jewellery Be Cleaned?

We recommend cleaning your generational jewellery once a month or whenever you feel it appears dirty or lacking shine.

We also recommend yearly professional cleaning to keep your piece pristine. This has the additional benefit of allowing a professional jeweller to examine the piece for any damage that may have gone unnoticed. 

Professional jewellery cleaning is yet another of the first-class services offered at our Chelmsford store. 

Where is The Best Place to Store Generational Jewellery?

Generational jewellery should generally be stored in a soft, lint-free pouch or cushioned box. If you have the box your piece came in, this is often an excellent place to keep it. 

What Should I Do if my Generational Jewellery Gets Damaged?

If your heirloom piece is damaged in some way, don’t worry. At our Chelmsford store, we offer expert jewellery repair services. There, we’ll lovingly restore your piece to its former glory. 

What Should I Do if my Generational Jewellery Doesn’t Fit?

At our Chelmsford Showroom, we also offer a precise resizing service so that your piece can perfectly fit every generation of wearer. Discover our resizing guide to learn more. 

Memory & Dream of Autumn Leaves Earrings - £45 Million

How do I Pass Down my Generational Jewellery With its History?

Bestowing a piece of family jewellery onto the next generation is often a deeply emotionally significant moment.

Many choose to do this as part of a vital celebration or critical step in the recipient’s life. This could be a milestone birthday, such as an eighteenth or twenty-first, a graduation, a wedding day, or a significant day in your family’s culture.

When passing on the piece on these occasions, you may want to share details about the piece’s history, why the piece was chosen or why it was designed in a certain way. You could even record its meaning on paper, stowing the history away in the box, ready to be added to by future generations.

Another memorable and powerful way to pass on family jewellery is to will it to the recipient, making it a token for them to remember you by after you are gone. 

Choose a spectacular piece of timeless generational jewellery with Hatton Jewellers today. With sparkling gemstones and breathtaking precious metals in our collection, you will find the perfect family treasure. 

Have any questions? View our FAQs or contact one of our helpful experts.