I have this jewel closet.

And that’s ironic… because I’m not a “jewelry person”.  Once in a blue moon you might see me wearing a simple necklace, but mostly I wear the wedding ring first placed on my finger one night many years ago at the top of the slide in the City Park.  That’s another story.

But I do have this closet filled with jewels.  There’s not a diamond or a ruby in the lot, but they’re all just priceless.  They’re pieces of costume jewelry worn by beautiful women… some I’ve known, but mostly those I never knew. I can see them in my mind’s eye.  They were born in the early 1900s.  I’ll toss on a sweatshirt and scurry off to the grocery store without makeup if I need something.  They would never have dreamed of such!  When they went to town they wore matching beads and ear-clips.  They didn’t own one or two brooches… they had several.  They had jewelry boxes that opened up like some delightful tackle-box, displaying mounds of rhinestones and plastic beads.  Treasure troves!

I grew up around women like this.  Many are still in my life.  I have younger friends who, no doubt, have mounds of fun jewelry… but it’s not the same as those ear-clips and ear-screws and faceted beads.  That jewelry is just in a class all by itself.  I enjoy going to garage sales and thrift shops searching it out.

My happy fascination with these pieces began a few years ago when my beloved Nana passed away.  All of us chose pieces of her jewelry to keep with us forever… the special pieces we’d seen her wear so many times.  But she never threw a rubber-band away, so she most certainly kept every piece of jewelry she’d owned in her life.  What were we to do with all that costume jewelry?  Since she loved Christmas so much, I decided I’d take all those jewels and decorate Christmas trees with them.   There was enough for twelve trees, and I was so very excited to make gifts for her children and grandchildren.  I thought they would be cute, and every Christmas we would all have this happy reminder of her.

As I began to place the jewels on the boxes, I was amazed.  I truly couldn’t believe how lovely they were turning out.  What I had thought might be fun little keepsakes were actually more than I could ever have imagined.  And the best part of all, they reminded me of how it looks when you open an old jewelry box and see that wonderful jumble.

Since then I’ve been carried away making these jewel boxes.  I sometimes choose a color theme, or a flower theme.  And while I always enjoy spending the day placing the pieces just so… the greatest joy comes when I’m making a box using jewelry that belonged to one special woman.  Because I know how very special it is for me to have a box of my Nana’s jewelry and a box of my Grandma’s jewelry, I love to create boxes that the owner can look at over and over again… remembering that lovely woman who wore those ear-clips and beads.  (Along with a couple of cufflinks and tie tacks from her special man!)

I’ve made many boxes using many shapes, but I believe the Christmas trees are always my favorite!

13 Responses to “Jewels”

  1. Sue Moore says:

    Oh…what fun to read and then to find this gorgeous tree photo at the end of your beautiful story! I am still smiling as I see the ladies you so well described!
    Big smiles…Sue

  2. Lori says:

    I can’t thank you enough for the box you made with my Grandma’s jewelry! It is so beautiful, and I truly enjoy it every day! Often when I stop to look at it, I hear the sound of my Grandmother’s laughter in my head and it just gives me joy and a smile every time!

  3. Sandy says:

    I loved making that box. I truly loved it!

  4. Linda Davis says:

    Yes Sandy, reminds me of my Granny. Clip on bejeweled earings, lovely necklaces worn with beautifully, hand sewn suits. Thanks for bringing back fond memories.

  5. Marcea Clive says:

    `Sandy, I love the photos of your boxes on facebook.
    They are just beautiful. Neat story, too.

  6. Pam says:

    These pictures are beautiful, but they don’t do justice to seeing just how gorgeous they are in “real life”!

  7. Kim Mann says:

    I love the jewel boxes you have made for me! They are both out on the coffee table right now. It’s so nice just to look at them, and be reminded of those wonderful women!

  8. Kim Wells says:

    Sandy what a beautiful idea! I have some pieces of jewlery that belonged to my grandmother that I really had no idea what to do with. Now I do! Thank you!

  9. Sandy says:

    And send me a picture when you finish the box! The boxes are just treasures! I use papier mache boxes… so little keepsakes can go inside.

  10. Sandy says:

    By the way… I’m delighted to make boxes. I have a happy collection of jewels. I sometimes add just a few pieces of someone’s family collection, or I can make a box totally from your family pieces. I charge, what I consider, a small fee for the materials and my time. If you set out to make one for yourself, you’ll have a grand time! But be prepared to spend hours and hours. That’s what it takes to make it look just like Grandma’s jewelry box opened up!
    E-mail me anytime with questions about the boxes.

  11. Terry Bingham says:

    I’m a friend of Marcea’s I love the idea of the jewel box they are beautiful. I would love to make one for my daughter out of her grandmothers jewels. Where do you find the boxes to decorate. I’m like you I don’t wear jewelery much either. This is such a good way to pass down memories.

  12. Sandy says:

    Hi Terry,
    My boxes are papier mache, and typically I order them online. You can find many companies with a simple search. You can also find them at most craft stores. Enjoy making your boxes!! They are wonderful treasures.

  13. April says:

    How fun! I love your idea of decorating Christmas trees with old, but valued jewelery. The story is priceless too!


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