Diamonds and gold have been iconic holiday gifts for years, but local jewelers are reporting more customers are choosing sentiment over new carats more than ever.
While trends in jewelry are not as overt as those in clothing fashion, there has been a distinct return to the use of family heirlooms in jewelry, said Robert Hallett, owner of Robert Hallett-Goldsmith in Oakmont.
The trend, he said, is likely a mix of eco-consciousness and recession-induced smarter spending.
Gold and diamond mining wreak havoc on both the environment and delicate social structures of the third world countries where they are sourced, Hallett said.
Wanting to create jewelry that keeps working families safe and the earth protected, he opts to use gem stones from pawn shops and estate sales. It's a form of recycling that many people overlook, he said.
"It's almost like taking an old house, and renovating it to make it new again," Hallett said.
Hallett repairs family necklaces, rings and bracelets — or he crafts them into more modern pieces.
"A lot of people have drawers full of old family jewelry that they simply don't like," Hallett said.
A customer can have the piece altered or completely transformed into jewelry that still has a lot of meaning and a lot of style, he said.
Joseph Anthony of Joseph Anthony Jewelers in Plum has seen a similar interest in customized family heirlooms.
"We make a lot of custom pieces out of old and out-of-style designs," he said.
Gold casting from old rings and necklaces is popular, too, as a result of soaring gold prices nationwide, Anthony said.
Brand new jewelry isn't out of style, though. Anthony has seen a consistent interest in unique color combinations — especially chocolate diamonds set in gold.
The old standby of yellow gold and white diamonds hasn't lost its place, though.
Robert Currens, of Robert Currens Fine Jewelry & Custom Design in Oakmont, says there still is a big market for classic pieces.
"Things are still holding very traditional," Currens said.
But even with something as classic as diamonds, there is room for new trends to pop up for the holidays.
Currens has sold many pieces utilizing a new technique of mixing diamonds with black rubber, creating a unique blend of industrial material with precious stones.
Because rubber is a lot less expensive to manufacture, these intricate pieces of jewelry stay within a very affordable price point, he said, and most customers can't even tell it's rubber until they touch it.
But regardless of holiday trends, Currens said, there is nothing more popular than simple, time-tested jewelry.
"A pair of diamond stud earrings are always going to be in style."