If you’re anything like us, you own more than a few cherished pieces of jewelry that rarely see the light of day — an elaborate ring that’s missing a stone or two, a gorgeous-but-dated broach inherited from a family member, or a much-loved earring that’s missing its mate. But you’re in luck! Margaret Ellis Jewelry (also referred to as ME) specializes in custom designs that incorporate (or upgrade) those special items desperately in need of some TLC.
Mclaine Richardson, owner and designer at Margaret Ellis Jewelry, says the first step in this custom design process is telling her about the piece you want to be repurposed and describing the vision you have for its new life. “Typically, customers reach out and say, ‘I want to make XYZ — a ring, a bracelet, a necklace,’” she explains. “I have them either come in [to the studio] or start the conversation by phone if they have something specific in mind … or they describe what it is they want and the pieces they have that they would like me to use.”
“My favorite pieces to design are definitely those that are passed down from generation to generation. For instance, where [a piece] was the grandmother’s and now her daughter wants to give it to her daughter,” Mclaine adds. “It’s that multi-generational family heirloom aspect that is always the most satisfying, but it’s also exciting to repurpose older pieces — even our own old Margaret Ellis pieces — to reinvent them into a new design.”
A recent example of this custom design process is a set of rings Mclaine created for a mother’s two daughters using old family stones. “[The mother] came in, described her two daughters, and showed me the stones she had. She wanted to keep the value of the stones equal for each daughter, but each [of them] has a very unique personality,” Mclaine tells us. “One was a lot more of a conservative-style ring in the design, the choice of stones, and the simplicity. The other one was a very eclectic style where we mixed lots of shapes and sizes. [We were able to] reflect the different personalities of each daughter.”
Mclaine’s favorite component of this custom design process is learning about the history of the pieces that are being repurposed. “Just having that understanding of how it’s going to be used and worn and how it was used and worn is such a fun and unique process,” she says. “I actually just designed myself a new set of stack rings. I took the diamond out of an old ring that my mom gave me for my 13th birthday, along with her original engagement diamond, and a diamond out of my late grandfather’s tie pin, and made myself a very sentimental piece. The possibilities are endless.”
Margaret Ellis Jewelry also has a commitment to sustainability. “[We’re] reusing the old stones, and we’re also reusing any metals we can that are at least 18K or 22K gold,” says Mclaine. “We also recycle all of our scrap metal, whether it’s used in a piece or taken back to the refineries. [And because] everything we make is made to order, we have very little waste to dispose of.”
When it comes to new collections for Margaret Ellis Jewelry, Mclaine calls upon her love for history and fashion. She tells us she often looks back at the Margaret Ellis archive as well as lessons she learned in art history for inspiration. “We just did a collection this summer where I was inspired by the sculptor Louise Nevelson. She used found objects to make collage sculptures and then painted it all white so that it all was uniform,” Mclaine explains. “I used our scrap silver to create a couple of unique, one-of-a-kind pieces in a similar style that I’m obsessed with. ME collectors have come to expect new and different artistic expressions each and every season.”
While jewelry styles have certainly changed over the years, Mclaine and the Margaret Ellis Jewelry team are dedicated to keeping the legacy and sentiment of your most treasured pieces intact when they transform them into a new design that will be worn and cherished for years to come. They’re a remarkably special studio to keep in mind for gifts and for marking special occasions. Make sure to add yourself to the top of your list this holiday season!
You can visit the experts at their Nashville studio located at 2809 Bransford Avenue. Or, discuss your vision by calling Margaret Ellis Jewelry at (615) 255-3255.
This article is sponsored by Margaret Ellis Jewelry. All photography courtesy of Margaret Ellis Jewelry.