Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Color of Memory

Growing up, my mother’s jewelry box was always a source of awe and wonder for me. I’m sure many women have the same fascination – if not with their mother’s jewelry maybe their grandmother’s, aunt’s or older sister’s collection. If you’re like me, opening that jewelry box felt like peeking into someone’s diary or reading their memoir. Each piece had a history and told a story. Every necklace was a memento of a special event. The earrings were heady splurges of extra pocket money. The bracelets were gifts from treasured friends and relations. And the rings – the rings were where things really got interesting.   As seen only through their jewelry, the owner was no longer the everyday person you knew who did laundry, cooked meals or plodded through the daily grind.  Anyone’s life could seem mysterious, romantic and magical when told only through their jewelry, no matter how humble the collection. The ordinary wiped away, and only the precious, shining moments remained.

My mother's jewelry box - since 1965!!  Still in pristine condition.
My mother met and married my father in the late 50s and early 60s.  Unless you lived through that time, you might think the world was lived in black and white, literally.  It wasn’t even until the mid-1960’s when television shows were broadcast in color (there was that one year somewhere in the mid-1960s when Gilligan, Jeannie and Samantha all suddenly appeared in color.  That’s when the 60's really started swinging).  Almost all my mom’s wedding photos and any other photos from her years before being a wife and mom were in black and white.  The only exception was one photo from her engagement party.  She and my Dad were standing side by side, he in a grey suit, she in a deep blue dress, with red lipstick, both looking happy and eager to start a new life.  She wore a beautiful gold necklace with round blue and green stones.  The earrings were dangly with the same stones, a petite precursor to today’s chandelier models.

I always looked for that necklace and earrings in her jewelry box but never saw them.  One day I noticed she had some jewelry boxes in the top drawer of her dresser.  There was one flat rectangular shaped box that caught my eye.  It was like an old cigarette case or like a mini piece of hard sided luggage.  I asked my mom to show it to me.  She opened one side and I saw a familiar necklace/earring set she would wear on Sundays sometimes.  Then I noticed that the case had a second latch – a secret compartment!!  The bottom side of the case also opened and there hidden away was the necklace and earrings I’d always seen in the picture – even more beautiful in real life!!  I asked why she never wore it.  She said something about it being too flashy or showy to wear everyday, even though they were just costume.    More likely, I think she kept it squirreled away because she didn’t want to have any other memories associated with it, just that one special perfect day – a day that stood out like Dorothy’s travels through Oz in a world of black and white.  It became our special thing to go to her room and look at her jewelry together, me dreaming of a bejeweled future, she remembering her colorful past.


  1. that is such a lovely story.. thank you for sharing.. the jewels are gorgeous..

  2. Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it. If you'd like, please sign up to have us email you when there are new posts. Appreciate your checking us out!