True Tales:The Ladies of The Wandering Agate
In the tradition of the novels-turned-movies, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and the experiment and book The Necklace, Renee Ink decided to purchase an antique ring and share it with a group of women on Instagram.
Unlike the fictional jeans exchanged among four girls facing challenges in Traveling Pants, and the expensive, real-life diamond necklace purchased and shared by 13 women in Cheryl Jarvis’ The Necklace, Renee bought the circa 1890 moss gate ring herself and trusted the online antique jewelry community to share it. She named her project, The Ladies of The Traveling Agate.
“Although I knew no one personally, I found the antique jewelry community forming on Instagram to be so open in telling their personal stories connected to jewelry as well as supportive of one another’s life experiences,” she says. “I thought it would a cool interactive project to get approximately 10 to 12 women together and, spanning the course of a year (starting in August 2015), pass along the ring to each of them and see where it would lead them. The project then took on a life of its own.
After identifying10 women from various cities in the U.S. and around the globe, Renee coordinated a schedule for those who would become the caretakers of the ring, each for approximately one month. Every woman would document on Instagram how and where they wore the ring and what symbolism or meaning it provided them. At present, the ring has encircled the finger of seven of The Ladies of The Wandering Agate with three more to go. The time period of one month has been extended to two or three months, should any of the women involved want or need that long with the ring. Most have.
The ring started out in New Jersey with Renee, who noticed that women who loved antique jewelry were serious fans of moss and dendritic agate. Renee’s research revealed that the moss agate stone is associated with fortitude and grounding, which was just what she needed during the time of her life when she started to wear it. For Renee, who was in the process of becoming an art therapist and who had lost three loved ones only a few months apart from each other, the ring offered a talisman of strength and guidance.
“This project also taught me to be comfortable with uncertainty and follow my heart,” Renee says. Once I was ready to pass the ring along, I knew I was facilitating comfort and encouragement for each of those who would wear it.”
The next person it went to was Claire aka @heartsof_antique_gold on Instagram in Louisiana. The ring traveled to New York City with her and her mom.
Nicholle, aka @jewelrynerd on Instagram and founder and writer of the blog by the same name, received it in Baltimore and took it on a wild adventure.
She explains, “I felt so honored to be part of this exciting project. It takes an incredible amount of trust to let women you don’t know, in different countries all over the world, wear one of your own rings. I knew I could learn from Renee,” Nicholle continues. ‘And yes, I took the ring traveling with me to the Yucatan Peninsula to visit Mayan ruins. It was on my finger at several important archaeological sites and just relaxed with me on vacation. While I felt the ring was part of my journey, I think the real experience was that I met someone who trusted so fully that the principles that allow the universe to work would also allow this project to work, too. It’s something that I think many of us struggle with daily. I also believe that Renee encapsulated in this project what I have been feeling about our community on Instagram. This is what ‘Woman Power’ looks and feels like. It’s about a place where we all work together so we can all thrive. And I like that kind of world and aspire to help promote and encourage it.”
Lenore Dailey, a popular and respected antique dealer who has met many of her Instagram followers at various shows throughout the country received the ring during the holidays at the end of 2015. For Lenore the ring was about reflection and renewal and looking forward to the year ahead.
Next up was Danielle aka @jasmyntea in San Francisco, “When the Wandering Agate first arrived I put it on my hand and immediately felt a sense of warmth and comfort, like an old friend coming for a visit. I was the caretaker of the wandering agate for six weeks in 2016, which proved to be an extremely challenging time in my life. I was working 60-hour weeks on a big project and my husband had back surgery. The Wandering Agate didn’t get a chance to see the many lovely sights of San Francisco, but instead was a good friend and companion through some difficult moments. When I would wear the ring I would feel a sense of peace and strength. This may sound crazy, but I really felt the presence of the many women who had worn the ring before me on their own journeys. My husband recovered well and work settled down a bit. I loved my time with the Wandering Agate and am grateful to be a part of its story.
From Danielle it went to upstate New York to Alison, aka @jewel_stories. “The Wandering Agate came to me at the first blush of summer, and she left me near the end. From the first moment I opened the ring box, I was struck by her beauty and her magical variations. She is incandescent and shimmering in the right light, alluring and secretive in the dark. When we left town, she danced on the beach and reveled in the sea-kissed air of Cape May, NJ. Alison continues. “Most importantly, she delighted in the company of old and new jewelry friends in New York City for the New York Antique Jewelry and Watch Show and gallivanted with me around the city for several days. Travel companion aside, she was a daily source of inspiration and comfort. I marveled at the wonderful connection that she gave me to wearers past and future. I love Instagram for how it links me to like-minded others, and exposes me to new possibilities of friendship and antique jewel collecting. The Wandering Agate project exemplifies the meaningful ways in which we can be linked to others and to the past, and how we can create new jewel stories through the power of image and narrative.”
Next stop was Australia, where the Wandering Agate has just arrived with Laura aka @maelgwns_muse, who says, “The idea Renee facilitated was a unique one. From a spiritual perspective, I’m anticipating that the piece will be infused with all the energies from its previous caretakers. I find the idea that objects hold energy a fascinating one, that people can wear and love something so much, that they leave a little bit of themselves in it. From more a practical perspective, I am honored to be included and I just started wearing her.”
When the agate leaves Laura it will wander to the U.K. to meet up with Hannah aka @jewelleryhannah who asserts, “This project is so awesome. One of the things I love about antique jewelry is that each individual piece has its own hidden story, from the people who have owned it, the places to which it has been worn, the events it has commemorated and all the generations it may have spanned. Only we don’t often have these stories revealed to us, just the odd snippet here and there, perhaps by an engraving or a date, or a family history. I love this modern and totally global interpretation! I’m thrilled to be part of his adventure and can’t wait to see what my own time with this piece can contribute to its story. I choose my jewelry for the day intuitively, so I’m going to fly by the seat of my pants and see how the Wandering Agate inspires me!
Next it will travel back to the U.S. to spend time with Sarah aka @sarahlpa who is excitedly anticipating the energy of all of the women who wore it thus far.
It will then make its way onto one of my superstitious fingers and I am sure it will touch my sentimental heart. I will be grateful to be a part of its history and to be connected to all the wonderful women who have worn it with love and whose souls it has soothed. I will also be ready for the lessons it has picked up along the way.
And, I am in awe of Renee’s ability to let things go, send them off with encouragement, support and much heart. You have inspired all who wear the ring and all who will learn the story of your generosity, sense of community and friendship.