Some women wear jewels because of their monetary worth. They believe that there is an inherent value in displaying jewelry which carries a dollar value.
The more it costs, the more it should be shown.
I guess that’s the usual equation.
Only that equation doesn’t really work for me. I am drawn to jewelry that has a whole different kind of value.
I wear my “Alex and Ani” bracelets pretty much every day. I know, right? They are the latest trendy item. For the first time in my entire 58 years of life, I am wearing something that’s actually in fashion. Go figure.
But here’s the funny part: I am not wearing them because they are trendy. I’m not even wearing them because they are made of recycled materials and are therefore morally pure. Nope. I wear them for three reasons. One: They feel good when I slide my fingers through the charms. Two: I love the tinkling sound that they make then they slide against each other as I gesture with my arm toward the board. These are pretty good reasons. But most of all, I love my bracelets because Three: my family and friends have given them to me. They seem to symbolize all of things I most value about myself, and I get to wear those virtues on my wrist. I have one that says, “Mother”, given to me by my children. One that says, “Sister”, given to me by mine. One that is an apple, to show that I am a teacher. One special one that is the “Tree of life” to show that I am one who nurtures.
How cool is that?
I wear other jewelry, too, of course, but none of it is technically “valuable”. I prize the tiny scallop shell that I put on a chain when was a high school student on an exchange program in Tunisia. It symbolizes youth, and daring and adventure. It symbolizes the beauty of the world beyond my boundaries.
I love, too, the silly ten dollar necklace of deep blue beads that I bought when my family was on vacation at “Typhoon Lagoon” in Disney. It isn’t particularly beautiful, but I remember that all three of my kids were by my side when I chose it. I remember that it came to represent the pleasure of doing something impractical, of embracing something that just seemed to capture the happiness of the moment. In those early days of my parenting life, when money was so tight, it was an extreme indulgence to spend those dollars on a funny little necklace. I didn’t realize that I would be pulling it out a dozen years later when I needed to remember those happy family times.
My special jewelry collection includes a necklace that my sons picked out on a college campus because its blues and greens made them think of me. It includes an old piece of amber, given to me by a Russian immigrant in the early 1980’s as a thank you for helping her and her family to find a new life in the United States.
And my list of favorite jewelry also contains a bracelet of tiny porcelain beads that was given to me by my Auntie Jenny, my father’s sister. Jenny was a favorite Aunt, a confidant, a special grown up “friend”. She had never married, as the role of caretaker had fallen upon her when her mother died. I knew her as the woman who stayed to take care of “Pappanonni”, but I also knew her as the Aunt who listened to the latest records, the Aunt who whispered swear words, the Aunt who let us stay up late to paint our fingernails.
One morning when my sister and I were visiting her, Auntie Jenny pulled out a box of her mother’s jewelry. She gave me the bracelet of beautiful white beads, and told me that it had come from Italy, along with my Grandmother.
Every time I put it on my wrist, I feel the threads that bind me to my past, and I am grounded and secured.
The value of jewelry is in its ability to make us feel beautiful. I feel that I am at my most beautiful when I am wearing those symbols that show me who I am. I have the most to offer when I am wearing those little signs that mark me as the person I am most content to be.
If you put them all together, my most valuable pieces would barely be worth the cost of a sandwich. But when you look at the value they carry, they are “beyond rubies”.