A while ago I made a custom design for a woman who had lost her youngest daughter. She provided two buttons from a piece of her daughter’s clothing and I incorporated them into a bracelet, along with lampwork beads in her chosen colors, amethyst beads, and Bali silver. The beads were beautiful, but the bracelet also had special meaning, and in that meaning, its own unique beauty.
I am sure we all have pieces of jewelry that have a deeper significance to us, beyond being beautiful. The bracelet with the buttons was one of a kind, in that only one was made, but on another level, it was truly one of a kind because of its particular emotional value.
My mother passed away when I was very young. As her only daughter I received her jewelry collection when I was old enough to care for it. In that collection are all sorts of wonderful things – formal necklaces in pearl or jet, costume bangles and clip-on earrings, delft, silver, African trade beads, and handcrafted items from galleries, shows, and powwows. I have to smile at how eclectic her choices were, because she brought it all together with sophistication.
Several weeks ago, my grandmother passed away. I was honored to be given her entire collection of jewelry, which consists of two large jewelry boxes as well as numerous shoe boxes full of smaller boxes of all sorts. Her tastes leaned toward quality costume, as well as the unique and collectible. I am finding treasure upon treasure among these boxes – some I will wear myself, and some I will enjoy simply for being a reflection of who my grandmother was as a woman.
My favorite jewelry isn’t of my own design, nor do I most prefer the Tiffany gifts I have received… It doesn’t just come down to personal aesthetic, or expense. Besides my wedding band my most cherished jewelry is that which has been given or passed down to me. The piece I have loved the most over the years is a handmade necklace of hammered silver hoops. It was made by an artisan in upstate NY and given to my mom as a gift, my father tells me. Of all of her pieces, it – to me – reflects her best. I have been wearing it since I was probably thirteen years old. It also reflects me better than most of the jewelry I have.
I know there were others made – who knows how many? The design has been made again and again. But, this necklace is one of a kind for me – in meaning. And now with the addition of my grandmother’s collection I am discovering more of these pieces that will attain one of a kind status, at least in meaning.