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Heartfelt Heirlooms

The exquisite jewelry designs of Adelaide Niketas are a lasting gift

Julia Pickle and her grandfather, James Lee Parker, have always shared a special, unbreakable bond. The two are known for their love of gift-giving, and one year, a beautiful snow globe with an angel appeared under the Christmas tree for Julia – a gift from her grandfather to honor Mary Parker, her cousin who died at just 2 years old. Julia was touched by the representation of family legacy. “It started a tradition of giving gifts to remind us of each other,” she says.

Jewelry designer Adelaide Niketas artfully crafts rings, necklaces and other adornments with legacy in mind. When she and Julia met while working together in D.C., it did not take long for the two women to discover they had much in common. “Anyone who meets Adelaide will instantly pick up on her heart,” Julia says. “The importance of faith and family formed our friendship. She understood my values.”

Adelaide’s art form is rooted in her own familial story: Her grandparents owned an antique shop, where she spent many happy hours as a young girl. “Their hobby was antiquing,” Adelaide says. “They would go to New England — places like Vermont and Maine — on antiquing expeditions. We all love antique jewelry in this family.”

Today, Adelaide Niketas Designs is a testament to this designer’s love for her family and for bridging the past and future with fine jewelry. Her passion incited the Parkers to seek her expertise on a special gift for all the granddaughters. “I knew Adelaide was making jewelry, custom-designed pieces, and I told my grandfather I would love it if she could make something for all the girls in our family,” Julia says. 

The result is a stunning entourage of four necklaces, all featuring a gold disk with each daughter or granddaughter’s initials in diamonds, plus the special touch of her family nickname engraved on the back. All four women wear theirs daily, says Julia, and the project has led to others with Adelaide, including a fifth anniversary wedding ring for Julia and, more recently, a 30th birthday milestone piece. 

“I asked my grandfather if he had gold cufflinks he’d be willing to part with,” Julia shares. “Now, his cufflink is transforming into a statement ring with his initials and a diamond border around it. My husband and I don’t have children yet, and I’m excited to pass it down one day. I want pieces that whenever I look at them, I think of my grandparents and our stories.”

The personal touch between Adelaide and Julia is not unusual for Adelaide Niketas Designs. Because most of her business is word of mouth, and most (but not all) is based in the Magic City, Adelaide works closely with her clients, ensuring she captures not just the physical details of every ring, bracelet or necklace but the emotional ones. Each client meets with Adelaide to show her their own cherished pieces and discuss what a new piece might look like. Next, the designer goes to her studio to sketch out ideas. Finally, when the jewelry is complete, it is delivered to the client accompanied by a special gift: a painting of the original design sketched by Adelaide.  

“I source everything in the United States without any overseas manufacturing of materials,” she says. “From start to finish, the handcrafted designs take six to 10 weeks, and I’m in touch the entire time, offering updates.” 

By the time you read this, Julia will have her 30th birthday ring fashioned from the gold cufflink — and the wait will have been worth it. To Julia, Adelaide’s dedication and love for the design gives the beautiful ring its layered meaning. 

“You can’t buy a piece of jewelry like this — if I tried to, it would never mean what Adelaide’s means to me,” Julia concludes. “She knows our family story.” 

Adelaide’s art form is rooted in her own familial story: Her grandparents owned an antique shop, where she spent many long, happy hours as a young girl.

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