Dec 24

Inherited Jewelry – Telling Jewelry Stories – Karen’s Story

By Calla Gold

Why You Need to Share Family Lore

Hugging girlsI encourage my clients to plan who to give their jewelry to. The stories that go with that piece of jewelry make the true value of that ring or necklace.

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. This Santa Barbara Jeweler feels lucky to hear these stories and to know more about her 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.

Inherited jewelry - Antique Diamond and White Gold Pendant

Cherished Inherited Diamond Pendant

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

Old ring, out of style

What’s it Worth if You’re Not Going to Wear it?

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.”

Inherited jewelry, Ring in White Gold with diamonds

Many Diamonds, Many Stories

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 old 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

Gold and Enamel Sorority Pin

Gold and Enamel Sorority Pin for Years Unworn

Not everyone has such a moving story to go with a particular

Sorority pendant

This Pendant was Made From the Unworn Pin

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!

Shadows of mother and daughter


Calla Gold


More in the Inherited Jewelry Series:

Wear it Don’t Warehouse it: One Inherited Ring Redesign Makes a New Jewelry Wardrobe

Inherited Jewelry, From Unworn to Cherished, Debra’s Story

Inherited Jewelry – What to Do With Your Inherited Jewelry?

Inherited Jewelry – Telling Jewelry Stories – Karen’s Story

Check out my “Wear it Don’t Warehouse it” video:

10 thoughts on “Inherited Jewelry – Telling Jewelry Stories – Karen’s Story

  1. I truly like your blog, the way you create posts and topic you covered are purely fantastic. I understand how difficult it is to get the website visitors involved. I have made the decision to include your website to my blog list.

  2. Stumbled onto your website by accident, really love it here. The stories. Thanks.

  3. Many years ago, my grandmother gave me the wedding ring from her second husband. My mother’s father died when she was 17, so this was the man I knew as my grandfather, he died when I was in elementary school.

    The ring was a size too small for my finger, and it never felt right to me to re-size it while she was alive. She recently passed at the age of 94. The day of her funeral, I took the ring out of it’s box and started wearing it on a necklace. My sister was given the ring from her first marriage, and she wore it to the funeral as well (though, it fit her).

    For several weeks afterwards, my mother encouraged me to get the ring sized so I could wear it (I was a bit worried at the cost, but your website gave me an idea as to the cost, which put my fears to rest).

    I finally decided to take it in and get it resized. I received word that it was completed the next day, which happened to be the month anniversary of her passing.

    I was amazed at how it looked when I received it; the jeweler had cleaned it up so well! I am so happy that I decided to have it re-sized. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at it and think about both my grandmother and my grandfather.

    I have two other simple silver rings that I wear, one says “faith” and one says “hope”. I always wanted one that said “love”, but the place I got these from didn’t have one. But, looking at my grandmother’s ring, I realize that I do have one that symbolizes love. The love that my grandparents had for each other, and the love that my grandmother had for me.

    • Dear Breanna,
      I thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story. That I had a part in helping urge you to size your ring makes me very happy. You do indeed have a ring that symbolizes love. Wear it in health and happiness.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  4. Our mother recently passed away after a horrible long battle with demetia. My sister and I have never got on, however mum wrote down who was to have which ring so no fighting. I received her eternity ring which she had never told me dad had brought for her when I was born . She wore her rings all the time, but sadly never told us stories about them .
    We took everything into our respective jewelers (we live in different cities) and had our ‘new’ family rings resized, cleaned, and repaired where needed and valued.
    I’ve been reading the stories on here a lot and they gave me the courage to modify my great grandma’s lovely wide wedding band into something I would wear. I had seven sapphire embedded gypsy style into it to represent her children. I never knew a thing about her, but thanks to the internet I found her name and the date she married our great granddad and when they immigrated to NZ. The ring is well over 100 years old and has been sitting in the bottom of mum’s and probably before her, my grandma’s jewelry box for so long, but now I wear it as a pinky ring.
    My sister says it is beautiful.
    Thank you Calla, and to the ladies who’s posts have inspired me.

    • Dear Nicky,
      Your story moved me. I’m so happy that you took the time to tell the steps you took to find out more about your grandmother’s history and how you changed her ring so you can wear it in her honor.
      I’m just so pleased.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  5. Thanks all, for the stories of your experiences. My mother passed and left me her jewelry collection. She was truly a collector…as most of her collection was never worn and was still in the original boxes with appraisal papers. Taken to a jeweler after I got it all home….I was told that the stones (diamonds, rubies, sapphires, etc) were not of “high quality” and that they only wanted the gold….for a pittance. I refused. I began thinking of how I could rework this jewelry into something I might actually use. I am NOT a big wearer of jewelry….and my 2 daughter-in-laws have little interest. Still, I might try to follow some of the suggestions here. 🙂 Thanks!

    • Hello V,
      I’m happy the suggestions inspired you. A number of people I’ve re-purposed inherited jewelry for do not consider themselves ‘jewelry people.’ They’ve found the discussions that came up when wearing the jewelry to be pretty fun. I hope you find pleasure in figuring out cool things to do with you mom’s jewelry.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

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