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HEIRLOOMS AND MEMORIES
Heirloom eco sustainable jewellery

A collection of personal stories

Image Credit – Madi Apthorpe

For some, jewellery can be a way to maintain a connection with a lost loved one, for others it can be a reminder of God’s presence.

I asked people to share the stories of their jewellery with me to act as a reminder that there are often a host of stories and memories under the surface of a piece of jewellery. From a piece found in a shop or something passed down from family, jewellery can speak of an era and breathe life back into something from a time now passed.

“The rings keep people close to me who feel far away. I see them with me in my life as I pass through it”

Picture by kind permission of Ella Halliday

Ella Halliday, 24, UK

“On my left hand:

“I have my class leaving ring which has my old school motto engraved on it with the date I left.

“The ring my boyfriend bought me on our first trip together to Leeds, a week before he unexpectedly ended up in hospital after his heart gave out, and his first present to me.

“My family ring, which has the coat of arms of my surname and was given to me on my 21st birthday that’s split down the middle on the band when I was moving a sofa.”

Picture by kind permission of Ella Halliday

“On my right hand I have:

“An Amber ring I bought in Warsaw on the first holiday I went on with uni friends where I vomited outside of the shop immediately after buying it because I was hungover and the shop was too hot.

“A Celtic knot ring I bought in Cornwall which I constantly take off and put in my mouth when I’m thinking.

“A small but thick folded piece of silver I found in a pub in Notting Hill that I tap on my desk at work when I’ve forgotten what I was going to do.

“I use them to tap on metal railings so I don’t get static shocks. I methodically take them on and off and stack them by size in my hand and shake them around like dice when I’m on the phone. I think I wear my sentimental rings on my left because I’m right-handed, but I use them all in such a tactile way that I can’t leave the house without them – I really can’t stand static shocks and my job is ringing people. The rings keep people close to me who feel far away. I see them with me in my life as I pass through it.”

“I’m so proud to wear them because for me it’s a part of my identity and heritage”

Hanya Kamhawi, 24, UK

“A lot of my jewellery is tied to my roots. In Arab culture, newborn babies receive gold jewellery, so I have a couple of pieces that have been with me since birth. I’m so proud to wear them because for me it’s a part of my identity and heritage.


“The top chain was my mum’s and the second one is my sister’s name in Arabic and she wears the one with my name.


“The third one is a pendant my mum got at 16. It’s Palestine with the Palestinian flag pressed into it, and it represents the resistance of the oppressed for me.


“The fourth one is my boyfriend’s name in Egyptian hieroglyphics. My boyfriend wears the one with my name I was given by my French side of the family as a baby. On the back of that one, Hania – the French spelling – is engraved. I love it because it has a bit of my French and Arabic roots all in one pendant.”

“With jewellery it’s quite nice for it to have a meaning and I feel like when I’m nervous or stressed, it’s nice to have my grandad with me through the ring”

Alex Goodchild, 24, UK

“The first thing I started wearing was the SOS necklace that I got for my 18th birthday. My dad isn’t particularly stylish nor is he really into jewellery or anything along those lines, so I was always curious as to why he wore it and why he got it in the first place. Turns out he was given it at 18 by his parents before he went off travelling. It’s a St Christopher’s necklace who is the patron saint of travelling, so that’s on the front. It’s annoying because pretty much every fuckboy in the universe now has one, which is quite entertaining. But basically it unscrews and inside it contains your medical records. I think these sorts of things have been around for a long time and I think there is a potential link with them and military dog tags. Both my dad and I suffer from asthma so that’s why he had it. He has worn it for as long as I can remember.

“My grandad’s wedding ring isn’t a traditional wedding ring. It’s not particularly decorative or amazing but it was something he always wore. When I received it for my 21st it was totally crooked so we had to melt down the gold and reform it to fit my finger.

“Kindness, humility and laughter: they are all things that my grandad stood for and it reminds me to strive for that. He was probably the kindest person I’ve ever met so part of me hopes that wearing it imbues me with that sort of same energy.

“With jewellery, it’s quite nice for it to have a meaning and I feel like when I’m nervous or stressed, it’s nice to have my grandad with me through the ring. I also think they look pretty cool, which is part of the reason why people wear jewellery.”

Some wear second-hand pieces from their parent’s or grandparents’ collections, and others like to wear something they bought as a reminder of a treasured memory. Different associations aside, jewellery continues to succeed in acting as a reminder of the passage of time.

Author – Madi Apthorpe

09/09/2022

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