The thing you have to know about my Mom is her absolute love and fascination with jewelry. Not costume jewelry. And not just any kind of jewelry, but the bold; the unique; the creative precious jewelry that stood out and made a statement. She wore it every day, in an abundance of quantity, but she wore it well.
When I was younger, we used to joke and call her, “Zsa Zsa Gabor” for the glamorous nature of her jewelry collection. Somehow, it never felt like too much when she wore it. As a kid, of course, I’d love to try it on and pretend to be a princess or a movie star. But for Mom, it was meant for everyday wear.
Mom was passionate about jewelry and gemstones. She knew everything about their hardness and structure and honestly, she could have been a gemologist in another life. I grew up knowing how to identify different stones at a glance, and lots of little details about where they came from and such. (I guess it was a bit of destiny growing up around all this love of jewelry and stones that I’d wind up doing that for a living myself.)
She always told us that my sister and I would inherit her jewelry. It was important to her that we took turns picking items fairly and equally. She never cared if we kept it or sold it, but it was the fact she wanted us to have it to do with what we pleased when the time came that she wasn’t with us anymore. Of course, we heard these wishes for years – decades! – and never truly thought much about it seriously. Yeah yeah, someday in the far future we would reply.
Of course, now, that “far future” has arrived and we’re faced with her impressive collection. Right now, it’s living in a safety deposit box waiting for the time when we can face going through it.
Recently, my sister and I tried to look at it – and I just utterly broke down. Logically, I know it’s “ours” now, but it’s not. It’s hers. It’s Mom’s and it’s so hard to see it and not immediately think of her. Mom’s jewelry was just such a part of her identity and it’s impossible to think of one without the other.
We wound up locking the box back up for now. It was too much to face too soon. I did, however, grab a single item which I’ve been wearing this month in honor of her.
Mom had different styles for different seasons with a change of birthstones and colors and moods. She’d rotate throughout the year and change up what she wore to reflect the time of year. So I grabbed “my” Bull Ring. It’s a massive ring! With intricate detail, and large, bold style. It’s crazy! Who thinks of something like this? But, it’s so very Mom.
I’m a Taurus, born in May, and this was a ring she got to remind her of me. She’d wear it every year in May as part of her rotation. I’ve been wearing it now these past couple weeks because it’s what she would do and it lets me connect with her. It’s this crazy piece of heavy, bold, jewelry – nothing I’d ever think to buy myself! – but I love it for it’s complete ‘over-the-top’ style exactly because it’s hers.
I don’t think I’ll ever match her sense of bold layering or the ability to wear massive rings on every finger at once, but there’s something nice about taking a piece here and there and embellishing my own personal style with it. Stepping outside my normal comfort zone and allowing myself to be bold and whimsical and a little over the top with a real statement piece and connecting to that part of my Mom and her memory.