Over the years I’ve collected quite a bit of unique jewelry including a gorgeous array of malas, bracelets, and necklaces. While I do still wear rings, it’s only when I’m out and about, not just around the house, so those don’t get pulled into rotation as much as the other pieces. And even though two dear friends tried in the same year to gift me beautiful earrings for Christmas (they were totally different styles and yet both totally me), I haven’t worn earring since HD was a baby and mamahood got in the way of keeping my holes open to the point that now I don’t have a say in the matter. Wrists and neck, it is and is it!
I consider this jewelry collection some of my most prized possessions not because they are worth loads in monetary ways but because of how and where the pieces were made or curated in addition to the stories and facets of my life that they represent. But also, I wear and love them because each little one becomes a layer of what I call armor when I need an extra visual of strength, persistence, and resistance:
* The extra rings (beyond my wedding ring) that I wear on rare occasion are all family hand-me-downs, including a birthstone ring of my Great Aunt Opal’s (who’s birth-month matches mine), another birthstone ring of my Grandma Gert’s that matches both of my own sweet daughters also born in the month of November, and a mother’s ring that belonged to my Great Grandmother (Martha) Ruth which includes four stones, one of which was for my Grandma Orph. I love these strong female connections to my lineage and ancestors, and even though I never got to know any of them as individual women as much as I would have liked, I appreciate carrying them with me in these ways.
* My bracelet/mala collection is too extensive to list in detail, but they each come with their own power and origin story. Several have been gifts from friends. Several have been gifts to myself. Some have words etched into their metal, meant to be read by others, and some have secret (swearing) messages tucked away on the underside, meant to be quiet reminders just for me when I wear them. With the natural stone beads, I know many of the makers behind the designs. None of them have been made by me although I used to wear many of my own embroidery floss tie-knot creations back in the day. I grab certain ones to wear on certain days because of their color, their meaning, their origin (and occasionally because of their location – i.e. what I can find quickly before I head out the door).
* The two most-heavily worn necklaces are my Mother’s Birthstone bar, made by my friend Liz, and featuring all five little Welschie birthstones in birth order, and my RBG dissent necklace, which is a small, metal recreation of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s famous collar that she would wear whenever she had a dissenting opinion on the SCOTUS. After that I have my breastmilk necklace which is something I had made with leftover, frozen milk from Wilson’s infancy, but apparently I’m still in young-mama-mentality even though I haven’t had a baby in almost five years because necklaces still seem like risky wardrobe choices around kids who might somehow break them. Still, these are my most worn pieces because they signal my identity and ideals as a mother and as a human in this world.
Call me a RBG+Madeline Albright wanna-be, but I like to use my jewelry to speak a message, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in quite loud ones. For Christmas the year RBG died, I got myself an actual full-size Dissent necklace and while I mostly wear it for Christmas to be fancy (not dissent), I have been known to pull it out for moments of actual disagreement with societal happenings. These days, in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe, I’m armoring up on a regular basis, not with the big collar but with lots of variety in the smaller pieces. For the road is long and protection of spirit and energy is going to be necessary as we move ourselves into the world that RBG worked so notoriously to establish and knew that we both deserved and could be.