From brooches and jewelry dishes and more, these inherited antiques supply both style and history.
Credit: David Meredith

A beloved heirloom does more than bring character and charm to a space—it also tells a story. "Whether gifted or inherited, the heirlooms that we choose to hold onto generally mean something to us," says Meg Young, founder of Cailini Coastal. "They remind us of a person we love, as well as happy memories or periods of our lives." Along with infusing history and personality into your home, interior designer Emma Beryl says heirlooms offer a design-savvy way to incorporate antiques into a space. "A successful interior strategically combines new and old elements so that your space feels personal and cozy but not dated or overly eclectic," she explains. "Heirlooms are a great way to add texture into a space because natural patina makes a space feel soulful and interesting, especially when juxtaposed with newer furniture elements."

So, what kind of heirlooms do some of our favorite tastemakers choose to display in their homes? We asked women to share the most treasured item they inherited from their mother, and here's what they had to say.

A cherished cocktail set.

For Allison O'Connor, president and CEO of Mitchell Gold Bob Williams, the best heirlooms are ones that commemorate a special occasion. "For my wedding, my mother gave me a cocktail set designed and made by iconic female glass designer Dorothy Thorpe," she says. "The collection includes a set of eight martini glasses and a shaker that were commissioned in 1953 by my grandmother for my mother, given to her as a wedding gift."

A beloved brooch.

When Nana Quagraine, founder of 54kibo, first had her children, she says her parents traveled all the way to Brooklyn from Ghana with traditional Kente outfits made specially for her children's naming ceremony. "As part of the rituals of the day, my mother also gave me an elaborate golden brooch/hairpin that belonged to my maternal grandmother and was made by goldsmiths in Ghana," she says. "I treasure the piece and view it as a link to my lineage."

A sentimental crystal ring dish.

When Young's mother passed away, her father held on to a beloved crystal ring dish that he surprised her with on a special date. "Without my knowing, he saved it for a decade and gifted it to me on my wedding day," she says. "I've had that ring dish on my vanity ever since; it's the most special heirloom because it not only reminds me of my mother, but also that touching moment with my father."

A treasured tapestry.

Nancy Epstein, founder and CEO of Artistic Tile, says her favorite heirloom inspired an entire collection of artwork. "From my mother-in-law, I received the gift of a tapestry woven in the Aubusson technique by the Mambush Galleries in Ein Hod, Israel," she says. "We visited Ein Hod with my mother-in-law, and when she saw how I fell in love with the tapestry, it magically appeared at my home eight months later. I have since developed a strong affinity for all of Shraga Weil's artwork, and we are now the proud owners of three of his tapestries, two oil paintings, and four lithographs."

A multigenerational dish set.

Sara Adam Slywka, founder of Nestig, says her most cherished heirloom is a set of dishes owned by her late grandmother that she received from her mom. "These were my grandmother's favorite dishes that she would use on special occasions and holidays—she always had an open home and no occasion was too small to be celebrated," she says. "These dishes are so special because they embody spending time with loved ones and celebrating being together."


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