Heirlooms aren't really about the past – they're about the value that they bring us in the present, particularly when they can be used, or worn. Jewellery that's passed down through generations serves as a constant reminder of the best about family and loved ones. The once-radical advice to use the good plates every day because life is short has now become well-worn, for good reason: the pieces we love should be seen, used, and included in everyday celebrations. In this spirit, Black Betty founder Kristin Weixelbaumer gathered three generations of her family to dress up for no reason other than to celebrate life, each other, and some of the beautiful things they share.
“I’m so passionate about our jewellery and what it means to wear jewellery - create something that you wear on your person daily,” says Kristin. “The energies that these stones, jewels and metals hold: what they do for the person wearing them & what it means to be passed down & shared with future generations.”
On the men's fingers are the classic staple piece, the signet ring, in two favourite iterations. The Black Onyx Rectangle Signet Ring has a bold, modern feel, while The Black Diamond Oval Signet Ring in silver has a sleek, understated silhouette. Styled as an elegant, standout alternative to a pocket square, two necklaces dangle from a suit jacket: The Tri Tanzanite Marquise Necklace in silver and The Tri Green Tourmaline Marquise Necklace in 9-karat yellow gold. This mood of individuality and experimentation is true to the necklaces' creation process: the metals and 3 stones can be combined to produce pieces that hold unique personal significance in a delicate silhouette.
Around Kristin's neck hangs an extra length, 14kt gold hollow chain given to her by her Austrian Ouma, and what she has since sparked with pieces each holding their own special significance – and combining to be even more than the sum of their parts. There is a locket that was given to her on her 16th birthday, following a long family tradition, and a pearl apple pendant with diamond leaf which was a gift from a former boyfriend who helped her to set up Black Betty as a business. Finally, taking pride of place, there is a large labradorite pendant that was a gift from her Himalayan spiritual teacher, Usha. Kristin’s own spiritual journey has inspired and ignited many aspects of Black Betty and her creative process at large, so it's significant that labradorite is believed to hold protective properties and to enable its wearer to release their innate powers of intuition, contemplation and understanding.
“Heirloom” Is a word with wealthy, Western connotations, as is “inheritance”. But consider them both outside of the material realm, and it becomes clear how universal the process of passing down precious gifts is: knowledge, rituals, and inevitably, character traits. Arguably the most appealing part of an heirloom is the reminder of our loved ones: their best traits, and the hope that we have inherited some of those, along with the physical items.
In Kristin's family, the tradition of heirloom jewellery and the creativity that can come with it begins with a ring designed by her grandmother. Its undulating coils of gold resemble a snake with a black diamond for an eye, and today each other women and girls in the family have their own replica of the design with the eye in their birthstone. Another serpentine piece adorns Kristin's mother's wrist: The Diamond Snake Bangle.
“Far from being a representation of death, the skullies instead prompt us to celebrate the precious life that we’ve been given: to seize the day and make each and every moment count,” she explains. "After all, I feel like the luckiest human alive with this beautiful craft that I’m part of.”