Blogging about life through the loupe of jewelry

Jewelry is Intimate Keepsake in our Personal Armor
Posted April 11, 2020

A storm was rolling in as I was about to write this column. The day sky darkened, with glints of sunlight creating a stark dreamlike landscape. The wind howled, as it arced the pouring rain forward like a mad sprinkler. Thunder bellowed in the distance, as small hail pelted the window I stood by, transfixed in thought, feeling a bit anxious, like everyone.

I caught myself doing what I often do when having a mindful moment. Clutched in my hand like prayer beads, I was rubbing between my fingers the silver pendants I wear on a chain every day. Running my thumb over the ridges on the surface of an oval charm imprinted with her fingerprint, I stop and think, “what would mom say” to my concerns if she were alive. My dad commemorated her passing with the charm as a gift to my sister, sister-in-law and me. It’s been a grounding touchstone.

Also on the chain is a heart pendant my teenage son gave me for Christmas last year with mama bear and cub. I added a tiny bee to the charm cluster that I picked up a year after my mom passed. It brings to mind a namesake mug she gave me likening Debbies to “bees” — as in busy as, never sits still, seldom relents, buoyant attitude... It reminds me to have strength in strife.

Jewelry is more than a fashion accessory; it’s an intimate keepsake, a part of our personal armor. Jewelry can stir up memories of people, places and events, providing moments of mindfulness, comfort and joy. Throughout time and cultures, giving and wearing jewelry keepsakes have been a part of the human experience.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the dynamic situation we’re all living through with COVID-19, buying jewelry is not top of mind for folks, unless it contains hand sanitizer, transforms into a face mask, or comes with ample supply of toilet paper.

But during a time when we cannot be together to celebrate a birthday, wedding, graduation, birth of a child, and life of a lost loved one… like we have in the past, jewelry is an even more compelling marker of our human condition.

As a longtime business writer in the jewelry industry, I’ve been researching and writing about the ways jewelers can navigate COVID-19 and innovate to come out on the other side. How and what consumers will buy will change.

Right now, people are searching for ways to commemorate and connect with one another that are meaningful, experiential, affordable, and convenient. Jewelers who know their customers and communities well can advocate creative solutions with specially curated jewelry and engaging shopping experiences online.

I’ve been thinking about high school seniors missing their prom and graduation; couples having to postpone their wedding; sweet sixteen, communion and Bar mitzvah celebrations cancelled; and, much more. How can we commemorate, celebrate, and uplift one another during these uncertain times?

Understanding the moment, the etailer Uncommon Goods let me know in a recent email that it had unique gifts I could send to a grad I’m proud of but can’t be with, like an inspirational charm necklace called The Path. Or, connect with loved ones far away with a set of Touch Bracelets, touch the one you keep and the one you gift lights up and vibrates, and back atcha. That’s pretty clever!

Wearable technology in the form of jewelry has been slow to catch on beyond smart watches and step tracking bracelets. Perhaps post pandemic, people will want jewelry that offers more ways to reach out and touch!

While jewelry may not be essential to our sustenance, it has certainly been an essential part of our identity since humankind began.