I can clearly remember the moment that I realised jewellery had the ability to tell a story: when my mum gave me my Granny’s wedding ring soon after she died.
Growing up, my Granny wasn’t particularly affectionate towards me. She wasn’t warm or cuddly like you imagine grandmothers to be, and I could probably count on one hand the number of times we said “I love you.” However, she took good care of me from the age of five, spending a lot of time with me, baking and sewing and, later, chatting while we watched Wimbledon together after school. So I knew she loved me and I loved her too. But when she died I shed tears more for my mum’s loss than for my own because, well, I suppose I never really knew my Granny very well – I knew her just as my Granny, which was only a small part of her life.
So despite our polite relationship, I wore her wedding ring willingly, almost out of some guilty determination, a pledge to her soul that I did care for her, deeply. Now, being an adult, I very much wish she’d been ten years younger – or I ten years older – because I might have realised how important it was to get to know her as a person. It’s probably my one regret in life, that I didn’t care enough to really talk to her.
But bygones are bygones and, as the French say, c’est la vie. Five years ago I had her ring thinned down and shaped so that it fit beautifully with my solitaire diamond engagement ring, and I now wear it as my own wedding band. Wearing my Granny’s wedding ring as my own makes me feel as though I carry her memory with me every day, even if she isn’t constantly in my thoughts. So, after sixteen years of wearing her ring I now realise the sentimental value in jewellery.
In recent years I’ve been less inclined to shop for cheap, high street jewellery and instead, I want to invest a bit more in my own jewellery. I’ve been building a collection of delicate pieces. Some favourites include my fox and dragonfly necklaces, both by Alex Monroe, and my diamond hoop Monica Vinader ring. Another is a silver link chain bracelet that was given to me for my 21st birthday – it’s rather a tough looking design but is delicately constructed, and the catch swings prettily with every move of my hand. I wonder if perhaps it’s a good reflection of who I am: strong, but sensitive.
My most recent addition to my jewellery box is this feather necklace by Lily Blanche. To me, there’s something incredibly interesting about the tiny, gold feather hanging delicately from a chain, nestling in the clavicle; it’s mesmerising, almost hypnotic in its simplicity.
As I’ve said, I believe that jewellery tells a tale in its history or sentiment, and Lily Blanche itself is full of nostalgia. Created by Gillian Crawford in her Stirling studio, the line is inspired by her grandmother, Lily, an extraordinary woman born in 1903 who went on to travel the world with her four children in tow. Can you imagine that now, let alone then? As as you can therefore imagine, Lily Blanche is full of vintage-inspired jewellery that is created with Lily’s own collection from the 20s and 30s in mind, and so there are quirky pieces and interesting designs.
Lily Blanche kindly offered me this memory keeper locket which I love and find quite fascinating – it looks like something magical, from another world never mind another era – but I explained that the feather was better suited to my own personal taste and existing collection and so they sent it to me as a gift at the end of the summer. I can honestly say, I’ve worn it almost every single day since receiving it. The plush black box and ribbon, the information about Lily and her life, the necklace – it’s all beautiful. And there’s something about a feather that not only emulates the fabulous fashion of the flapper girls, but signifies something stronger, something (or someone) special from another place or time. As Lily used to say herself, feathers appear when angels are near.
And that, for me, is what jewellery is all about: self expression and sentiment.
Images: Kris Miller.