9 Stylish Women Show Us Their Heirloom Pieces

In a heartwarming feature for Brides Today Digital, 9 stylish women wear their favourite heirloom pieces, and share the stories and memories behind them...

Team Brides Today
Jewellery worn by our mothers, aunts, and grandmothers become a symbol of love, strength, and hope. In a heartwarming feature for Brides Today Digital, 9 stylish women wear their favourite heirloom pieces, and share the stories and memories behind well as the special bond they share with the most important women in their lives.
  • 1 of 9

    Arundhati De-Sheth 
    "It was a nice exercise for me to open up my jewellery safe at home, peek in, and see what heirloom piece I had with me during this particular time. And out came this multi-coloured necklace and earrings suite.
    My mum bought this about 20 years ago from our favourite jewellers in Jaipur. When she got it back then, I must have been the first of my sisters to wear it for our family’s annual Dusshera soirée. Since then, it has attracted me for the play of light between the diamonds and the various-hued jewels—citrine, turquoise, ruby, and emerald. It is finely-crafted, with great flexibility, and it sits well on my neck. The last time I wore it was two years ago for a family wedding in the daytime; I paired with an electric-yellow, georgette sari.
    I also have stacked two rings together—they are twin rings. One is a diamond band interspersed with emeralds, and the other has rubies. These are also from my mum, and are also over 20 years old. She loves wearing multiple rings on both her hands. And I find myself doing that now, too.
    Over the past few years, my mum has been ‘gifting’ each of us jewels from her eclectic collection, for our birthdays and special occasions. She insists on giving them to us now—so we can wear them as often as possible. It brings her joy to see her daughters enjoying her carefully-collected pieces. We, of course, are only happy to oblige!”

  • 2 of 9

    Karishma Manga Bedi
     “I’m fond of smaller pieces that have sentimental value attached to them. Here, I am wearing a ring and three bangles given to me by my maternal grandmother.
     All the three bangles have meenakari work on them, set in 24K gold. The two slim ones were given to my nani by her mother in the early 1900s—she had acquired them in Lahore at the time. While I was growing up, I had a habit of going through my nani’s jewellery drawer. I remember her opening a muslin potli (bundle) that had these bangles in them—I must have been around nine or 10 years old at the time—and I told her I wanted them. She said she would give them to me when my wrists were big enough to wear them. Around my 16th birthday, I went to remind her of her promise, and she gifted them to me. 
     My nani got the thicker bangle made for her three daughters on her 50th wedding anniversary. I was considered the fourth daughter, and she had one made for me, too. 
     Together, these bangles are a lovely way to bring the old and the new together. They remind me of my grandmother. I don't wear them everyday because meenakari can get spoilt. I pair them with my jeans and a white shirt—like in the photograph, or a summer-kurta. They make me think of her with such love and fondness. 
     The ring is newer—she got it made post-Partition when she moved to India. Again, I fell in love with it early on, and it was supposed to go to my mother and eventually, me. But my mother sweetly relinquished her claim, and it has become one of my prized possessions.”

  • 3 of 9

    Masoon Minawala
     “This layered emerald-and-pearl-necklace was gifted to my dadima (paternal grandmother) on her wedding day by her mother-in-law. In 2019, she decided to pass it onto me, with a slight modification done by her and my mom. They surprised me with it during a trip to India, for a wedding.
     I share a very special relationship with my dadima. She is the true ‘influencer’ of our family, and even dresses up for her evening walks! She taught me to dress up for myself and focus on how it made me feel, not based on what others say. There is also no-one else in the family who has a better eye than her, when it comes to jewellery.
     Coming from a family of jewellers, they had it customised by personally sitting with the karigars. The timeless Maharani haar (necklace) design was created by adding meenakari detailing on the flower concept pendant, along with close-set polki. The layers were carefully re-polished to make sure its vintage feel was not lost.
     I wore this to a family friend’s wedding in Mumbai, last, paired with a minimal, fushcia-pink lehenga by Anita Dogre. I like how it works so well as a modern-day piece. It represents a style that has continued for generations, and it is an honour to inherit a piece of my family’s legacy.”

  • 4 of 9

    Niharika Shekhawat
     “My mom got this reversible necklace made for me when I was in the 10th grade, in 2005.  Every summer, she would put one piece of jewellery aside for me, and I knew I would get them one day. 
     This necklace is set in 22k gold, with syndicate polkis and Zambian emeralds. It has been designed in such a way that it takes the shape of the neck—it’s a super-flexible gulband choker. The emeralds are old and were lying with us for a long time, as she had inherited them from my nani (maternal grandmother). I wanted a set where all the colours come together and could be worn reversed, as well. I remember her asking me what colour I wanted as the ‘back enamel’, and I said pink. There are matching chaandbalis to complete the set.
     My mother gave this to me as a trousseau present—I wore the set at my wedding in 2015 with a shaheel (blue) poshak, and a saffron borla. It brings back so many memories. It takes me back to how it got made when I was in school, the time I got married, and the journey of my life. Only parents will do everything for you—put your ideas on the design board, and create something that is a reflection of your personality. 
     Since it’s an heirloom piece, I only bring out this set for special occasions. And so that it doesn't get overwhelming, I usually wear the necklace with polki studs; and the earrings with a maangtikka.”

  • 5 of 9

    Shaheen Abbas
     “I’m wearing a stack of six, classic diamond bangles—four diamond patti bangles, and two tennis bracelets.
     The diamond patti bangles belonged to my dadi (paternal grandmother), who passed away when I was around 11 years old. I was very close to her; she was my favourite grandparent, and I was so keen to have them as a memory to hold on to her. Jewellery is an emotion for me, it goes beyond the intrinsic value. 
     The style is very simple, with round diamonds in a square setting, and it looks very classic. The diamonds are set in gold. The bangles are so versatile that I wear them around the house, or as a quick accessory when I step out. I last wore them in February this year, for a dinner at a restaurant. I usually stack them with other bracelets, and for weddings, I wear them with kadas.
     The tennis bracelets were later made by me, and they are inspired by my dadi’s bangles. Tennis bracelets are a no-brainer, no-stress jewellery—you can wear them in any way—and I had always wanted them. Here, too, the diamonds are round-cut, placed in a square setting in 18K gold—it gives the illusion of squares placed next to each other. Together, the bangles are very interesting, visually.
     I attach emotion to memories and objects, and I made these pieces—like I do with all my jewellery—thinking of my daughter, my future daughter-in-law, and my sister’s child.”

  • 6 of 9

    Shalini Passi—Founder and Director of the Shalini Passi Art Foundation and MASH
     My dadi (paternal grandmother) gave this intricate jadau set to my mother in 1973, who wore it at her engagement. The jewellery was made in Amritsar, and is one of the pieces that she inherited.   
     The set is special for me because of the memories and heritage it represents. It has been the prized possession of two generations of women in my family, and I have seen my mother wear it on several occasions. She knew I always loved the pieces, so she gifted the set to me in 2015.
     I love the delicacy of the design—the stones have been set in gold so carefully. The headgear contains the Feroza or turquoise gemstone, and it is also set in gold. While it has a Victorian design, it has been treated to a jadau style. 
     Over the years, I have styled the necklace with a number of garments—with gowns, chiffon sarees, and lehengas. I have also worn it as a hairband with some of my outfits—I recently wore it this way with one of my saris. 
    I consider these to be more than just jewellery pieces to accessorise my outfits with. They are witness to the many memories and lifetimes of my family.”

  • 7 of 9

     Shehla Khan
     “This was one of the first pieces of jewellery that my father specifically bought for me, even though I wear all of my mother’s old jewellery. He got it for me two years ago from a family friend, and for no particular reason—he’s a connoisseur of jewellery, and has bought my mum some exquisite heirloom pieces in the past.
     This necklace is a classic piece that makes a statement because of the large pendants. I love how elegantly-designed the details are—the emeralds are beautifully carved, with diamonds surrounding them, pearl tassels, and an extremely thin chain to hold it together. 
     The design is so versatile, I can wear it with anything. I last wore it to a cocktail party with a dress, but previously, I’ve worn it to weddings with lehengas, saris, and fusion outfits. This is, probably, one of the most classic pieces of jewellery I own. And it’s elegant enough to be worn over generations.”

  • 8 of 9

    Sonalika Sahay
     “This was my mother’s favourite jewellery. She got it from her mother, and she gave it to me in her last few days with me.
     The set is at least a hundred years old, if not more. And yet, it’s still so modern and relevant. It is made with gold and rice pearls, and I love the medallion work on it. I just polish it once every few years and keep it exactly the way it was handed to me. 
     I wear this set all the time. It goes best with traditional Indianwear, and I last wore it to a family wedding. I also wear the pieces as separates—the earrings go very with gowns or saris, and the necklace looks lovely with a jacket or a collared white shirt.”

  • 9 of 9

    Malini Ramani — Designer 
     “My massi gave me this gold, three-piece set. It actually has a matching ring too, which is my favourite part of the set, but I don't have access to it during this time of lockdown.
     I was given this in the early ’90s, as a gesture of gratitude for introducing her daughter (my first cousin) to her future husband. The set belonged to my nani (maternal grandmother), who was born into a renowned jeweller’s family in Karachi called'Bhojwani Brothers. It was designed by her husband in Karachi, in the year 1940.
     I like the coins and the feel of the jewellery. It’s modern and fun and unusual, all at once. And it feels like I have a part of my ancestor’s history with me, which is very important. I see them as my 'good luck' coins!
     I wore the set last year with a leopard-print kaftan, though I wear them separately, too. The bracelet looks nice mixed with plain gold bangles, too.”

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