Mother’s Day Inspirations
While many of you are considering what gifts to choose for Mother’s Day, Bejeweled has compiled a four part series of Mother’s Day stories to share with you, inspire and move you. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did hearing and writing about them!
Ever wonder what Mother’s Day would be like if you were the daughter of an antique jewelry dealer, the mother of a jewelry designer, the grandmother of a jewelry store owner, the granddaughter, aunt, sister or niece of an avid collector? You know where I am going with this—the gifts you might receive would be some of the most rare, personalized, thoughtful and sentimental that you could imagine. And there would definitely be an even more rare, personal, thoughtful, sentimental or just plain hilarious story behind not only the piece you received, but also the way in which it was presented.
As a writer about precious gems, a few weeks ago, the press releases started rolling in (like they do every year) to inform me of the perfect picks for Mother’s Day, and like I do every year, I contemplated having to objectively pull together photos and descriptions of the best of what I found for you, my loyal readers to purchase. And then I just stopped. You would have enough of these type of “what to buy for Mother’s Day” articles from fashion, luxury lifestyle, women’s print and online magazines, newspapers and blog posts to last you through Christmas shopping.
I began to think about the stories I’ve heard throughout my years as an author, journalist, one-time designer and collector about the knowledge, passion, and the pieces that had been given and received by various women in different positions in the jewelry business, serious collectors and their loved ones. And I thought, Why only tell the stories that were specific to one day out of the year? Why not extend them to birthdays and other holidays or ‘just because’ occasions?” While interviewing the diverse range of women in this week’s series of stories, I noticed that we are not only united by our passion—okay, perhaps obsession? addiction?—for all things sparkly, but also by the joy and love of motherhood or aunthood, the heartfelt memories of a mom or grandmother still in our lives or those some of us might have lost. Our recollections shine brightly. I connected to so many of the tales I gathered, and during interviews and editing them, I was truly moved; I laughed, cried, and related. I hope you will too. And, I’d like to honor all the moms, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters, sisters, aunts and nieces who participated and who are and will always be the true and most authentic gems in our lives.
Virginia Orr: Fashion Consultant (UK)
“It’s a wonderful experience to be the daughter of an antique jewelry dealer who has exquisite taste. To see the magical colors, hues, textures and sparkle and to hear all the stories and the secret meanings as a teenager inspired a curiosity in me for this strange life my mother, Pat Novissimo of Lowther Antiques, had chosen. I participated for a long time, gazing from the distance, merely observing, and asking questions, secretly hoping for a special gift on my birthday. After a thirty-year career in luxury fashion, I decided to join my mum and work with her at jewelry fairs and to actively share her passion for the craftsmanship, the history and the sheer beauty of the objects that fill her life from day to day. Imagine my utter joy and pleasure when she presented me a few years ago on my birthday with this magnificent and rare 18K gold Portuguese eighteenth century pendant (they are usually silver – but this one was so rare in gold). I love its purity of color, its simple design, perfect proportion, the understated almost grey table-cut diamonds that catch the light in the most beautiful way. I have passion for the earlier pieces of the 18th and 19th centuries—they are almost modern in their aesthetic. I will treasure it always and as I, sadly, do not have children, will ensure it passes on to one of my gorgeous nieces.”
Julie Horowitz: Owner, Virtu Chicago
“My mother has always been one of the biggest influences on my love for jewelry. I’ve watched her collection grow over the years with more pieces, added by my dad, my grandparents, eventually myself. One of my greatest joys as a child was listening to stories of each of her jewels and its meaning. My mother has not been well for some time, and we began cataloging each of her pieces photographically, complete with a story attached.
My mom loved both my grandparents so much and I did as well. Yet interestingly, her dad was never grandpa to me, but rather I called him RM for Ralph Marshall, the most stylish man I knew, looming in presence and in heart. One Mother’s Day, I was scrolling through Instagram and found an RM signet on Rusted Anchor’s feed, originally shared by Gem Gossip. I knew that my mom would be thrilled with a ring with her father’s initials and it would add to her collection and stories. She now wears it stacked with a filigree band on her left pinky, even when she’s dressed in sweats. I can only hope that, one day, my nine year old son will seek out gems and jewels for their meaning. Maybe I’ll even receive a tiny treasure that I can wear daily with my yoga wear.”
Penny Preville: jewelry designer, Penny Preville
“Surely I had given my mom beautiful jewelry designs over the many years I’ve been in the business, but when you called to interview me, I froze and was unable to remember one! I started to feel that I was a terrible person. I called my 89 year-old mother, but she ‘was too busy studying for her art history final’ to speak with me. I was determined to remember jewelry I had given to her. Early in the morning, the memories came pouring back. One of her favorite pieces that I created for her was a large pear-shape faceted amethyst ring designed in a simple deco-inspired setting of 18K gold. When I remembered, I asked her to send it to me so I could borrow it for inspiration for a new version, but she lives in Atlanta and told me she couldn’t bear to part with it. ‘Penny, you will have to wait until I see you again,’ she said teasingly because she knew she was going to see me a week later. The occasion: To celebrate her 90th birthday and an early Mother’s Day. Of course you are writing this before it all happens, so I am hoping her new gift will be ready on time! I’m very excited to give it to her and to commemorate all the shared years of love with my mom, my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren and her great-grandchildren.”
Julie Lamb: designer/owner, Julie Lamb
“Earlier in my career during my fashion jewelry days, I would travel to Europe to bring home trends for the companies I worked for. I would always bring home a gift for my mom: Brooches from Paris – real fur rosettes, genuine feathered peacocks, Swarovski Crystal snowflakes and the like. She loved them all and each would get a brightly-hued coat or blazer dedicated just for them. Later, my mom couldn’t get enough freshwater pearl pieces when I designed for Honora. She loved all of the fashion-fusion styles-unlikely pairings with druzy or crystal So, how to top years of making jewelry for my mother who just loves jewelry?
I finally started my own line late in 2014. Playing off of our family name, I created the ‘Be Ewe’ Collection featuring my lamb logo. One of my very first prototypes I made years before I launched was a stylized white diamond sheep pendant. Eventually, I made this first sample a counterpart in black diamonds, and when I began to explore meanings and messages for the line, I realized that these two characters had to be my parents—the black sheep, my father and the white I named ‘Susie’ after my mom. While she does color in the lines and has always had traditional goals in mind for me, she never promoted blending in. I gave her the white pendant as a gift for always supporting me in the path I choose and for always being there.”
Nicola Whittaker: business development, Fellows Auctioneers
“The most treasured memories of my childhood were being allowed to play with my mum’s jewelry as she got ready to go out. Even though I work for an auction house and see so many amazing antique jewels pass by my desk every day, the idea of now being lent the items that I adored as a child offers such a special connection to my mother and my past. I wanted to purchase something worthy of her, a piece that she would treasure as much as I was enamored by her jewelry. I found a Victorian locket for my mum at auction a few years ago. Preferring to keep the images of her loved ones in her mind, she has kept the simple blue fabric backing inside as the focal point of the piece, and I quite like the way it matches the turquoise around the edge. She often wears it on a long antique gold chain doubled up. It looks fantastic and it is so nice to see her wearing a piece that makes her as happy as wearing her jewelry has made me.”
Danielle Rubin @Jasmyntea on Instagram
“My mom’s birthday is a challenging day due to some sad associations in her history. This year I wanted to give her something that she could wear to know that I was always thinking of her. The love tokens created by Lyon-based jeweler Alphonse Augis are most associated with romantic love, but when I saw two of them, I thought “Why can’t this coded message based on a line from a poem by Rosemonde Gérard in 1980- ‘ today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow’- be significant for any type of love, particularly a mother and daughter?” I bought the ruby-surrounded one for her and the other for myself. This would be something we would share together. My mother owns very little jewelry because my dad never bought her pieces and she feels strange buying it for herself (I do not share this inhibition). So, I always try to give her a special piece for her birthday. For me, it’s not just a material item; I believe that wearing jewelry every day from someone that loves you can be a comfort in difficult times, and for my mom, it has been. And, this particular token will help her always remember how much she is loved.”
Britt Bivens: Trend and brand consultant, Ace of Swords
“I was visiting my family in Australia close to Mother’s Day one year and was working for a jewelry brand that produced very pretty 14K gold pieces, which of course I was wearing. Knowing that I was working in jewelry, but never having seen the pieces in person, my mom got real close for inspection. And slowly but surely, the jewelry started leaving my body. She got really excited once she realized that we were the same ring size and the reminders that Mother’s Day was approaching began. All of a sudden, I was short a couple of rings from my stack. A new development occurred when she realized that by tying in her birthday – a few short weeks away – she could have the entire lot. And so that was it. In a few short minutes, I had updated her on what was happening in my career and made her very happy, all with a few stack rings. Feeling quite pleased with her new acquisitions, she proceeded to tell everyone we saw in the next week not only about the rings themselves but how she had come to be in possession of them, highlighting the audacious thievery that had occurred. Realizing that it had been so easy to coax them off of my fingers, my next few visits home meant that I was now greeted with a kiss, a once over and the inevitable question, ‘So what are you wearing?’”
Lisa Kramer: Antique Dealer, Lisa Kramer Vintage
“Although I was only twelve when Grandma Esther passed away, I still remember her wearing this bracelet sitting on a park bench in the Bronx. When she died, it was given to my mother, her daughter-in-law, because she shared my grandmother’s initials. If her daughter, my aunt Jean, had loved it, I’m sure she would have kept it, but it appears that neither my aunt nor my mother particularly wanted it. So practicality, in the form of pavé diamond initials, ruled.
I, on the other hand, loved the bracelet and about 20 years ago my mother gave it to me. It seems this is often the case with jewelry, that what we relate to skips a generation. What seemed old-fashioned and ‘ungapatchkad’ (Yiddish meaning for overdone and, well, gaudy) to my mother and aunt was wonderfully sentimental and stylish to me. I’m just grateful it didn’t get scrapped, as so many pieces do when they are in that dangerous period—old enough to be out of fashion and not yet appreciated. Whenever I wear the bracelet, it reminds me of my grandmother, my mother, and my aunt. It also reminds me that I don’t need to save my most loved pieces to wear only on special occasions. After all, if my grandmother could wear this bracelet to sit on a park bench in the Bronx, pretty much any place is good enough for me.”
Inez Stodel and Leonore van der Waals: mother and daughter, Kunsthandel Inez Stodel Vof
“It’s always a challenge and a pleasure to work with your family,” Leonore explains. “Inez, my mother, has over 50 years of experience in which she has sold everything from furniture to sculpture, and although her passion lies in the smaller pieces (antique and vintage jewelry), Inez knows a lot about everything. Throughout the years, I have learned so much from her. She has grown more selective, and when I see something for the first time, she has already seen it several times even when a piece is rare. I am quite proud and surprised that I have inherited her big love for jewels and her great eye. I was so happy in 2012 when a good friend who is a dealer found a brooch with my mother’s name—I could give her something that would mean so much and that I hoped would show her how much she had taught and guided me.”
Inez continues, “celebrating Mother’s Day is rare in our family, but what a surprise in 2012 when my daughter presented me with such a charming and beautiful brooch. I never imagined, for Mother’s Day or for any occasion in my life, that I would receive a gift of my name in gemstones, in cursive writing, which is my favorite.”
Melody Rodgers: owner, Melody Rodgers Antique and Vintage Jewelry
“My mother Terri was a very glamorous, over-the-top kind of woman. Her generation would have called her a broad—similar to Bette Davis in films such as All About Eve or Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday: tough, dramatic, quick witted and savvy. She was in the antique and vintage jewelry business and so her personal collection was extensive and diversified. I went to work with her when I was quite young and learned so much from her as well as listening to customers, touching and feeling the jewelry and experiencing the sometimes quirky and eccentric nature of this segment of the marketplace.
The ring I have chosen for this story captures the essence of my mother’s spirit. With all the bright shiny diamonds she owned, and she owned many, it was her large Georgian rose-cut diamond solitaire ring that speaks most to my heart. I remember the day she bought it from a New Yorker socialite who no longer fancied the ring. You could see the history without a loupe. My mother put it on her hand, which was always manicured with red lacquer, and the ring encircled her finger. When I looked down at it, I also noticed that her hands had begun the aging process. But after she passed away too young and with still too much life and chutzpah in her, I realized that her hands also showed character, that she lived and earned the ring she was wearing. When I inherited her ring, I also recalled what she told me about it: ‘Melody look at this, see all the black carbon inside the stone? Some dealers would see that as defective, but I see it as nature intended it to be. Those specks of black carbon are like flecks or spots on our souls. Our job is to accept them and that we are not perfect. And, to know that the best we can do is to try and clean up our acts by being kinder, gentler and more forgiving of ourselves and definitely all those we care about around us.’
The ring will always remind me of my mother’s glamorous ‘broad’ façade and the beautiful heart that belied it.”