Get Ready for Jewelry Show and Tell at Wordsmith
Wordsmith finds common ground between jewelry and writing. The exhibition is set up and the zine is printed, but you're not out of chances to participate.
At tomorrow's opening reception at Magers and Quinn, we want you to bring your weirdest, most beautiful, most historied, most something piece of jewelry and tell us its story.
Now don't start wringing your hands over the fact that you purchase 100% of your jewelry as an afterthought in the checkout line of a fast fashion retailer. You chose that piece for a reason. Plus, no one said its story has to be nonfiction. This is an opportunity to give your trusty $5 studs the backstory they deserve.
Need some inspiration? Our staff decided to take the challenge.
How my Connemara marble earrings are like 50 Shades of Grey:
There are, supposedly, 40 shades of green in Connemara marble. That one's obvious.
The Connemara marble earrings I bought in Ireland at the Cliffs of Mohr gift shop are the best impulse buy I've ever made. 50SoG is pretty much all about impulses.
Jamie Dornan, who plays Christian Grey in the movie, is from Northern Ireland. The region of Connemara, where the marble is found, is in Western Ireland.
Did the characters of 50SoG ever do it on a marble slab? Probably.
Okay, so my earrings are nothing like erotica. But I'm obsessed with them, just like a lot of people are obsessed with the book.
The first jewelry items I bought for myself that cost over ten dollars were these Brach Earrings from Nervous System's Algae line. According to their website, this line "…explores a range of botanical patterns created by systematically abstracting the cycles of growth and bifurcation seen in plants."
I don't know about that, but they remind me of the antlers of a very tiny stag, or of the veins running through a very tiny person's lungs. (That last one probably has something to do with the "Nervous System" name behind the jewelry.) Plus, the fact that I paid more for them than I've ever paid on jewelry means I feel like a super-classy lady whenever I wear them.
When I was 15 I found this owl necklace at Forever 21 and thought it made me unique, just like everyone else who shops at Forever 21.
I named it Oxford, as in Oxford the owl, because alliteration is cool and all owls should have pretentious names. Sometimes Oxford is mistaken for a dragon or a beaky Ron Swanson, but Oxford is most assuredly an owl.
A few months later, in my German class, we had to write and illustrate a children's book about animals to demonstrate that we could pretend to speak German. Naturally, I wrote mine about Oxford.
The plot went like this: All of the other animals hated Oxford because he was green. Then he met Penny, a purple owl. He fell in love with her, but then she left him. Oxford cried. The end.
Eventually, a second-grade class came to visit us, and we had to read our stories to the kids. I probably got away with the dark nature of mine because there aren't any second-graders in my hometown who can speak German. Even my teacher couldn't speak it.
At the end of the class, the kids went home with the books we made. Mine probably became shredded paper at the bottom of a hamster cage.
But hey, at least my necklace never became home furnishings for a rodent.
I don't remember much about my great grandma Ev, but I know she was a sentimental proto-hoarder. One of the umpteen times the Red River flooded—the real bad one, I think, in 1997—my family drove to East Grand Forks to help her clean out her soggy, box-filled basement. While the adults worked, I gathered spoils. I came away with a few scarves and plastic bangles that Grandma Ev had sported in the '60s.
In the years since, Grandma Ev's accessories have disappeared one piece at a time, lost between bedrooms or houses or cities. At least twice I've watched the bangles break, once when some ham-fisted guy tried one on. I dismissed it with an "it's ok, it's just a shitty plastic bracelet," but by then I only had a few left, so in reality, I was gutted. Now I'm down to one, which I never wear but keep anyway because, like Grandma Ev, I'm a sentimental proto-hoarder.
It's not that it's pretty or interesting, but it's endured while all my other cheap jewelry has lost my favor. Next time I steal an old woman's stuff, I'll go for quality.
There's a ritual I go through in the morning to get ready. Piece by piece, it feels like I'm suiting up for battle. And while I don't have a sophisticated three-piece suit and tie, my fuchsia lipstick and bronze pendants give me all the armor I need to feel my power, confidence, and beauty—getting me ready for anything.
All That's Left is a Band of Gold
For someone who has a complicated relationship with marriage, I am surprisingly attached to one particular inherited symbol of holy matrimony: my dad's wedding band. To be accurate, the gold band actually belonged to my mother's father. He was a man who, like many men before him, somehow ended up not raising his children. My mom inherited the relic. I guess that's the least a child of divorce can look forward to. That and less fighting.
Ibecame its owner during a nostalgic afternoon when my mom kindly let me sift through her dusty jewelry boxes. I sometimes imagine its engraved inscription "M.L.B. TO W.D.H. 6-9-62" pressing against the skin of my middle finger, leaving an imprint of my grandparents' initials, an inherited attachment to dysfunctional relationships. I never really knew my grandpa, but his memory gives my mom a place of refuge, so I guess he must have been a good guy. I generally don't trust good guys, though.
Ironically enough my mom and my dad, the second users of the ring, are still married. You might be wondering how I now posses it, if their matrimony is still intact. Good question. My dad, who built worlds with his hands, never really saw a use for the band. I like to imagine that he never wore it, but probably he did, for the first few days or weeks. It was more likely that the first time he slipped it off, he realized how superfluous it was. I know it sounds bad that my dad doesn't wear his ring. Trust me, he's a good guy. I guess I already told you not to trust them though.
Earlier this spring my brother announced his engagement to his girlfriend. The ring of our grandfather now has a new calling. I am wearing it as I type now, the worn gold gives off a soft glow in the sun. I plan on going with my brother to get the ring resized. I insisted actually that he keep the inscription on the inside and pay extra to maintain those initials. While I don't have an attachment to marriage (just distaste for it) I somehow love what this particular wedding band represents.
This ring is more than a marker of heteronormative relationships. For me this ring maps the interstices between myself and the men in my family. My grandfather who I never met. My father who spends his time off chipping away paint from the side of our house and fixing things I didn't even know existed. My brother who is moving back to Minnesota this summer.
Maybe it's fitting that a gold band represents my ties to these men. They say gold lasts forever. Or maybe that's diamonds. I don't really have a taste for either.