I've seen women who own $50,000 sets of gorgeous sapphire and diamond jewelry get all excited when they show me some little pinky ring that they inherited.
It may only be worth $300 if they tried to sell it, but to them it's priceless. I feel lucky to hear these stories and to know more about my clients by hearing where they came from.
Sentimental Value is Priceless
Sentimental value beats actual value many times. It's the jewelry with the story that is so very cherished. What kind of stories do I mean? Something like Karen's Story.
Karen's Tear-Jerker Story
Karen was raised in a happy house full of siblings and loved her childhood. She had an Aunt who visited once in a while. Her Aunt Laura was a dancer and traveled a lot, performing.
Aunt Laura received a ring from an admirer. It was a ruby and diamond ring with pretty flowers worked into the gold around the gems.
The Gift of Inspiration and Emotion and the Stranger
Aunt Laura told Karen how she was in a particular ballet and a woman in the audience was so moved by her performance that she asked to meet Laura. The woman was ushered back stage. She explained how Laura reminded her of the daughter who had died recently.
Laura’s portrayal of her character had awakened in the woman emotion that had abandoned her when her daughter died. She took off her ring and said it had been her daughter's and she insisted that Laura take it. The stranger's daughter had been studying ballet and the woman wanted Laura to have it. She said, "love and cherish your family, always, wherever they are."
Sharing An Incredibly Meaningful Story
Laura promised to do so. She wore it for many years. Karen was her favorite niece. One day Aunt Laura told Karen the story of how she received the ring and that the ring was a symbol of how important family is.
She then gave it to Karen and said to keep it as a reminder that wherever Laura was, she was thinking of Karen with love. Karen loved that ring and her Aunt Laura.
The Rest of the Story
When she was 21, her mom told Karen that Laura was her real mother. She'd gotten pregnant accidentally and wanted her ballet career and had no husband. This ring now had new facets of meaning for Karen.
Karen is an older woman now and everyone knows the story of the ruby ring. She's chosen a beloved niece to give it to and her feelings about it are, "love your family and follow your dreams" and she's very proud of her birth mother.
We both cried when she told me the story of this ruby and diamond ring. I can only imagine how much the ring will mean to her niece.
The Simplest Family Story Can Mean So Much With Inherited Jewelry
Not everyone has such a moving story to go with a particular ring. I'll tell you though, people love the stories of how their ancestors came to America, how their Grandparents met and just about the earlier generations of their family. That ring or pair of earrings is a connection to that time and that family member.
6 Family-Jewelry Story-Telling Tips
1. Be personal and specific
If this ring was your mother's ring, pick a story from your mother's life and tell that to your family in relationship to this ring.
2. It’s OK to edit the story
Every piece of jewelry deserves its story even if you embellish it a bit. Aunt Maureen was a sour-puss? Well make up something about how she helped Uncle Morton start their first business in the 30's. Who knows maybe she did! And it's more inspirational that way.
3. Help them feel connected
This piece of jewelry is a symbol of how they are a part of your family. Be sure the story includes a sense of family and how the person in the story was like them.
4. Start early with children
Tell your stories to all the family, especially children. They'll look at the ring you got married in next time they see it and remember you telling them how Grandpa "borrowed" that horse to ride to your farm to ask you to marry him. They'll love that memory and the ring will remind them of it years later, or the diamond itself from the ring if they re-set it.
5. Be upbeat
For many people the jewelry they have been given is like a good luck charm. Many people feel the strength and love of the previous wearer of their jewelry when they wear it. So when you share a story about that person make it a cheerful one. Or one with difficult times overcome to reach a happy ending.
6. Use the story to help someone
If there is a message of perseverance you wish to tell your niece Brenda, or she’s had a loss and can’t seem to get into the swing of things, or you wish she’d try harder or you have a message you can’t get through to her in the normal way, let jewelry bridge the gulf.
Pick a piece of family jewelry and craft a story that shows that her Great-Aunt Hester dealt with a similar obstacle to Brenda’s. It may reach her in a way that “helpful advice” won’t. If you give the piece of jewelry to her, it may give Brenda a happy symbol to remind her of the story and she’ll know someone has made it through what she’s going through.
What's the Takeaway Message Here?
People remember the stories that go with their family jewelry. Share your stories now and strengthen the bonds in your family. Make that little ring mean more with a special tale of family lore!
More in the Inherited Jewelry Series:
Check out my "Wear it Don't Warehouse it" video: