By Michelle Graff
(Photo courtesy of AGTA/Photo credit: Moghadam Photography)
New Orleans—The master jeweler at Louisiana independent Aucoin Hart Jewelers took more than a year to make these cufflinks, and the story behind them is as beautiful as the resulting design.

Donna Marie Aucoin came up with the idea for a butterfly jewel after she and her husband, Tommy Aucoin Sr., spotted one in their garden on the one-year anniversary of their son’s death. Ryan Aucoin died on May 15, 2016 following a two-year battle with a rare type of lymphoma.

Donna Marie explains: “As my husband I were in a consoling embrace in our backyard garden both thinking so deeply about Ryan, this magnificent butterfly fluttered all around us, almost dancing in the air determined to get our attention then landing on a magnolia tree, its bright beautiful wings standing out against the dark-green leaves.

“The butterfly would stay through the night and well into the next day, staying with us and comforting us with so much peace and love from our Ryan.”

Following that afternoon, Donna Marie handed over a conceptual butterfly design to Auction Hart master jeweler David White.

White spent the next 18 months perfecting her vision and then hand-crafting the 18-karat white and yellow gold cufflinks. They are set with 1,076 individual gemstones: 3.09 carats of sapphires, 2.36 carats of diamonds and 1.37 carats of tsavorite garnets.

They won two awards, first place in Men’s Wear and Best Use Of Color, in the AGTA Spectrum Awards this year.

After White made the cufflinks, Donna Marie gave them as a gift to Tommy as a reminder that Ryan will always be watching over their family.

“Every day, we feel the ‘wings of love’ from Ryan surrounding our family and providing peace,” she said.

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