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4. February 2022


Inherited jewellery should be worn with joy by every generation – this is Stefan Oberleitner’s credo when it comes to family pieces. The master goldsmith succeeds in breathing new life into jewellery. A report by Miriam Becker.

A gold ring with amethyst that has been in the possession of my mother’s side of the family for at least three generations: I like to wear it on special occasions, but also as an eye-catcher with a cool, black business outfit. As can be expected with its age, the ring has a patina that I would like to remove. And it no longer fits perfectly. In order to slide it over the middle joint on the ring finger, it would have to be a little wider, but then it sits too loosely in place again.

I take this ‘case’ to Stefan Oberleitner, because he likes to take care of such family pieces in his jewellery workshop. “Inherited jewellery in particular should be worn with joy by every generation,” says the master goldsmith, explaining why he likes to adapt jewels to the taste and type of the respective owner. “On the one hand, there lies a challenge in preserving the character of the jewellery. On the other hand, it should suit the appearance and style of the wearer – and whether the jewel is chosen as a daily companion or rather taken out of the box for exclusive events.

Speaking of which: while Stefan Oberleitner is taking a close look at my ring, he asks where it is kept. A padded box has been given to me along with my ring – the ideal solution. Jewellery often lies in bowls, drawers or small bags with other pieces that can damage each other – even diamonds can suffer unsightly scratches.


Particular attention should be paid to pearls with their soft surface: “On the one hand, pearls need physical contact and should be worn regularly, otherwise they dry out, become dull and crack. On the other hand, cosmetics, perfumes, and hairspray attack them,” warns the jeweller. With impeccable care, however, mother-of-pearl can live for several hundred years. Stefan Oberleitner also advises to have the threads of chains checked regularly, as they become fibrous over time and might break. The settings of stones should also be checked from time to time so that they do not get lost.

Stefan Oberleitner, who took over the established jewellery store on Wilhelmstrasse in Wiesbaden from his father in 1995, also checks the setting of my family piece – and its fit. We agree: to only widen the ring around the circumference of the joint is not a solution, because it tends to be too wide on the phalanx. But adding a flexible spring insert that widens and narrows again when you slip it on is perfect. I order this piece of precision engineering!

If the width of a ring needs to vary even more, for example due to illnesses such as gout or rheumatism, Oberleitner’s goldsmiths produce a miniature hinged clasp, as is known from bracelets. Talking about clasps: Who hasn’t experienced the annoying fumbling with the delicate spring ring of a necklace that has to snap into an even smaller eyelet – just before heading off to a great event?

It doesn’t get any easier as eyesight and dexterity deteriorate with age. Magnetic clasps offer a reliable alternative or – if this could affect a pacemaker – a patented clasp that is easy to operate by pressing and turning. Such mechanical components of jewellery should also be checked regularly.

As an established address for luxury watches and exclusive jewellery, the Oberleitner team looks after long-standing regular customers. “It’s particularly nice when these people gradually come to us with their pieces of jewellery and various requests, often including creative ideas,” says Stefan Oberleitner. “This often leads to great conversations because the pieces are associated with special memories. These stories are just as valuable as the material from which the jewellery is made. When we prepare and rework pieces, we ideally bring both to new life.” As with a lady who was given diamond rings by her husband for their engagement and marriage, for their children and other occasions, which she could no longer wear in old age. The goldsmith made a single, impressive ring from it, which combined all the events and perfectly suited the elderly lady.

The history of my family ring will certainly be continued by the next generation – with the help of a special goldsmith.

The finished ring with spring insert and a pendant that has also been refurbished. Photos: Jeweler Oberleitner

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Stefan Oberleitner



mit abgeschlossener Ausbildung im Uhrmacherhandwerk für unser Patek Philippe-Team