Lately my mother’s main Christmas present to me comes from her own jewelry treasure chest. Mom was once a salesperson at Shreve & Company. Later she worked at Zales and she also ran her own antique jewelry business. Over the decades she has amassed a broad selection of rings, pendants, bracelets, and other expensive and inexpensive pieces.
This past Christmas Mom asked me the usual, What would you like from the collection? I pondered a bit and recalled that American Indian jewelry had recently been featured in the fashion magazines. Mom has quite a lot of American Indian pieces, which she started buying in the late 1960s. I asked her to choose one for me.
On the day, Mom gifted to me a green turquoise and sterling silver cuff bracelet and an almost matching ring. Turns out this is a set that belonged to my mother’s Aunt Ruth. I was instantly smitten and since then I have fallen deeply in love.
Aunt Ruth had a passion for American Indian jewelry and started buying it back in the 1930s, which is when my ring and bracelet were made. Since she lived in Greensburg, PA it’s a mystery how she found her pieces, but lucky for us she did. Aunt Ruth didn’t wear this set much and Mom has never worn it, so it has been tucked away in a drawer, unloved, waiting for me.
I’m showering it with affection, that’s for sure. I have worn both the ring and bracelet almost every day since December. I like that they aren’t matchy-matchy and that they don’t scream Native American. In fact, they look more Art Nouveau with simple feather etchings and tiny silver beads around the stones. I’ve always preferred green turquoise to the more common blue and the bracelet actually fits me (I have very small wrists and most cuff bracelets are way too big).
I have more than my share of jewelry and it’s all meaningful for one reason or another, but there is something special about this set … it speaks to me. It’s both stylish and unusual but more than that, the two pieces feel like good friends. I can’t explain it any better than that.
After wearing the set for a few weeks, I noticed that there was a very small crack in the ring’s turquoise. I couldn’t remember if the crack was there when I got it and I was feeling stupid for perhaps wearing the ring too much and hurting the stone. How typical – these lovely pieces stay pristine for years and in three weeks I crack the stone.
Mom took a look through her jeweler’s loop and confirmed there was a crack, but not a deep one and she also could not recall if it had already been there. Then she said, You know what I think? I think the crack is Aunt Ruth speaking to you saying – thank you for loving and wearing my jewelry!
Well, if that’s true then I say in return – My pleasure, Aunt Ruth. Thank YOU and a big thanks to Mom, too.