“Burnished Permanent Reminders”
If there was ever a moment in film that captured the collective sentiment of jewellery, it is watching a youthful Audrey Hepburn gaze into an adorned Fifth Avenue’s Tiffany & Co store window. There’s no denying that the film will forever uphold its own legacy, but this scene sparks such a potent visceral reaction through the undeniable authenticity and realism that it succeeds in portraying. Jewellery holds a power so inherent that it falls into its own category; one that favours identity and intimacy in a way that no other quality of fashion ever has, and probably ever will.
For as long as I can remember, I have held a deeply affectionate affinity for jewellery. Though the catalyst for this infatuation is unclear, I am almost confident that it was fuelled by the women who raised and supported me. I first recall being introduced to jewellery whilst sat on my Grandmother’s bedroom floor, emptying out her box of trinkets and running my palms through piles of aureate adornments for hours. I was in my own gilded heaven. But this form of fortune was so precious that it was preserved, saved for those who had earnt their treasures through a currency weighed in moulded gold and silver. My personal timeline has since been measured through a growing collection of jewels and stones, representing an individual growth through both numbers and experience. As milestones passed, each life-marker would be solidified through a shiny keepsake, exclusive to myself.
In my family, jewellery required a certain level of responsibility, understanding and experience; it was the epitome of being a ‘grown up’. Now that I too stumble into this chapter of adulthood, my appreciation for jewels and all things shiny hasn’t faltered. Honestly, I doubt it ever will. Jewellery makes me feel put together, polished, complete. But it also makes me feel closer to the people that I love and the memories we have shared; it is a way of rooting those special moments into burnished permanent reminders. My personal collection is small and modest, but every piece encases a story that shaped me and my relationship with the provider behind each charm and chain.
Misplacing my own shop-bought jewellery was never a cause for concern. It would simply be shrugged off and eventually substituted for a newer, shinier article. But when I lost my Grandmothers bracelet, I was inconsolable. I felt depleted. Though our non-physical bond could never be damaged or wane, a tangible element had vanished for good. Hammered metallics and coated pendants can find a way of being replaced, but the values that are so intrinsically wound into those metals cannot.
Not every item has to uphold such personal and private nuance though; a striking signet ring can simply be just a striking signet ring; no context needs to run quietly behind the curve, just an overt appreciation for the craft and design. But nothing can compare to those pieces that do conceal a more poignant definition. The intimate gifts and family heirlooms that we collect are loaded with such emotional weight, and a meaning that fast-fashion imitations will forever struggle to replicate.
That being said, I believe that the value of jewellery relentlessly balances upon a pendulum of fervours; the constant fear of conservation versus a quiet and unparalleled level of emotional comfort. To place such savoured minutes and cherished entities into tiny, delicate fragments is terrifying. But if it means that I can hold onto those moments for a little while longer, it’s a risk that I will forever be willing to take.