An heirloom ring in mum’s loving memory

An heirloom ring in mum’s loving memory
January 25, 2020 Fairina Cheng

Charlene lives by the motto that “life’s too short”.

She is a Singapore-born kiwi living in Sydney, a loving single mum to 8-year-old Vinnie, a black belt in mixed martial arts and has an eclectic collection of jewellery from independent designers all over the world.

“Life’s too short” is a motto inspired by her mum who, in December 2017, was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.

“Mum and I haven’t always been close. But when she was diagnosed, past issues were immediately wiped away. She had her first round of treatment and surgery and everything looked promising but unfortunately the cancer came back aggressively and it was too late by then for any further treatment,” Charlene said. “The silver lining to all of this is that it gave us the opportunity to tie up loose ends and have the time to say goodbye.”

Charlene’s mum passed away in 2019 after fighting for almost two years.

Susie and Vinnie
Charlene and Vinnie

Left: Charlene’s mum and Charlene’s son, Vinnie
Right: Charlene and Vinnie

“Mum was a jewellery lover, so you can see where I got it from,” Charlene said. “She left me all her jewellery, including 7 gold rings and earrings with diamonds and emeralds. They weren’t really my style, and I wanted to turn them into something to remember mum by.”

“I wanted my ring to be a statement ring that is timeless in design and versatile enough to be worn every day.”

Salt and pepper pear shaped diamond remodelled ring from mum's old jewellery

Charlene and I got together and it was time to play! In a design session, we laid the gems out, arranged them in various configurations, sketched, sketched and sketched again… until we came to this:

  • A pear-shaped salt and pepper diamond in a yellow gold bezel with beaded details
  • A white gold fan featuring mum’s round diamonds and new baguette diamonds
  • A wide and textured rose gold band with diamond-studded stars sprinkled across it
  • A secret marquis-shaped emerald (mum’s birthstone) from a favourite pendant she used to wear daily

… All in a rough, rustic and unpolished ring that Charlene could carry with her every day.

Charlene saw her ring come to life through photos and videos, but it wasn’t until her birthday that she got to see it in real life. It was love at first sight!

That evening, Charlene and Vinnie went to the beach where they had spread mum’s ashes and watched the sunset.

Charlene Koh's Instagram post

Hit play to see the ring in action (including the hidden emerald)

“This is by far my most valuable ring, in terms of the sentimental value,” said Charlene. “Most of the diamonds are mum’s. I LOVE the secret emerald hidden on the inner band. Best part is that you can see the emerald’s glow through the salt and pepper diamond from certain angles. This will become an heirloom ring and I can’t wait to pass it to my son in the future.”

“In her last days, mum taught me not to hate anyone as that negative energy stays with you. She showed me strength – how brave and strong she was for fighting cancer and enduring all that pain. Last but not least, she was way too young to be taken away by cancer and what that has taught me is that I should make the most of life as you just don’t know when your time is up, and as cliche as it sounds, we should definitely live life to the fullest and do the things you want to do now. Don’t wait.”

Rose gold, white gold, yellow gold salt and pepper diamond heirloom ring with star-set diamonds and an emerald

Design an heirloom piece of your own

Wondering what to do with those inherited jewels at the bottom of your jewellery box? Let’s turn them into a piece so personalised, it couldn’t have been made for anyone but you.

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