When I was still in college,
as a gift, my Grandmother gave me one of my most prized possessions: this
beautiful, quirky, silver bracelet made from antique dimes. It was a bracelet
that she used to wear when she was probably about my age. There was a time when
you’d always find that bracelet on my wrist. I still treasure it. I admit I
haven’t asked about all of the stories that I am sure accompany the bracelet,
but I am sure there are a few.
Almost all of us have a story that accompanies a personal article of adornment. You inherited your Grandpa’s pocket watch he used when he was a conductor. Your Aunt Ida gave your cousin the hatpin that she wore when she met Uncle Phil. That or you know someone else who does have a story: Amy wears the tiny ring on a chain that her Grandmother wore as a young girl.
All of these stories are important. As singular units, they tell us about our families, histories, and individual lives. Cumulatively, they speak more about our culture as a whole, how we live and interact with one another. Looking at jewelry can tell you about a time period in which a person lived, social strata, and sometimes, even about the dreams that they held most dear.
The Antiques Roadshow Effect.
Honestly, why do you think people watch The Antiques Roadshow? It’s all about the stories people!
Recently, I got tickets to the show when it came to my town. I gave them to my brother and aunt as gifts. They told me of standing in crazy long lines; some people stand in line for hours. All just to hear the story. Who doesn’t want to hear the pedigree of some busted old thing that was in the back of your dad’s shed? Especially if that thing turns out to be worth a gazillion dollars! But that’s another story.
We want to hear about what makes these objects special. This is also the lure to antique stores and thrift stores: finding objects with great stories to tell.
Buying quality jewelry is important because you want it to last. Plain and simple. You want it to be passed on to another generation that will appreciate it so you can keep the story going. Also what matters? Who you are buying your pieces from. Tiffany’s is great if you can afford it, but there are craftspeople all around the world, probably even in your own city, that are doing amazing work. There are many sites like Artfire and Etsy to help you find and sort through the masses to help you find who and what you are looking for.
Look at Me! Look at Me!
I’m on Etsy selling my work for Urban Temple Jewelry. I make my jewelry pieces to be worn over and over again. I want to make sure my work can be passed down to another generation. It is important to me. If a buyer chooses Urban Temple Jewelry to become apart of their personal story I am honored. As I mentioned before, jewelry can tell you a lot about a person, but most of all about their personal sense of style. If someone chooses Urban Temple as a way of expressing themselves that is a pretty amazing thing. It also says something specific about the person: they appreciate recycled and vintage components, they like to stand out in a crowd and they also like colorful statement pieces with various world influences. Didn’t think jewelry said all of that about you did you?
Customers also come to me to find a way to reinvent heritage jewelry pieces. Essentially I’ll take older jewelry pieces that aren’t being worn by their owners and reincarnate them, so to speak, into ones that they will wear. Create new from old and starting a new story from an old one. What is the use in having something amazing with great history that you aren’t even wearing?
Here are a couple examples:
How Can You Determine If Your Jewelry is Quality Jewelry?
Here are my ways to determine if a piece of jewelry is a quality piece before making an investment. I fully admit that sometimes aesthetics get the better of me: if it is pretty, super stylish, and shiny I don’t care; it is a risk I take sometimes. But these are three of my very untraditional ways of determining quality when buying jewelry that I want to last:
- Ask them how it is made. If the artisan has put in a lot of hard work that will keep your piece together they are more than willing to tell you about it. Ask about the quality of the materials used.
- Look at it. Is it falling apart before you even purchase it? Buying from an art market or festival look at the piece up close. Try it on. When purchasing online zoom in on the pictures they have posted.
- Is there a warranty or guarantee? If the artisan or craftsperson offers some sort of warranty or guarantee that is one way to determine if they stand by all they create. I personally offer a guarantee for all Urban Temple pieces. Partially because I want people to wear the jewelry with confidence and also because I am pretty sure that I’ve put enough glue and wrapped enough wire around things that they won’t fall apart. Just joking. But really, I make sure each piece of jewelry I make is made well with quality findings, beads, and wire. You should be on the lookout for others who do the same.
Keep in mind when you buy jewelry someone else that you love might wear it next. What does it say about you? Does it tell any part of your story? You also want any investment you make to be a quality one, that will be around for a while.
I'd love to hear your comments. Do you have a special piece of jewelry that was given to you?