Grandma’s Jewelry Box

by jennine on October 7, 2010

My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. Last week I went to Hawaii to spend time with my family. While there, my grandfather placed a white Clinique makeup bag in front of me and said…”Here’s a few things from your grandma. That should keep you busy for a bit.” He has a way of making light of things! So I went through the make up bag. Thinking back to the days when she kept all her accessories and jewelry in the original packaging in the top drawer of her dresser. She loved to show my sister and I all the baubles she had. Part of me wonders had she been young today, if she would have loved blogging. Then she could show all of us her shiny finds.

Most of this is costume jewelry, I had a look around, to see what I could put to use in my wardrobe. Vintage costume jewelry in good condition isn’t the easiest to come by, and it’s not always cheap. So the past week I’ve been playing around with some of the pieces. Connecting chains to make long necklaces, layering up bracelets. Mixing and matching. There is a lot you can do with older pieces to update their look.

Here is a swan belt buckle. She was making the belt but never finished. The pins are still the only thing holding it together. I’ll have to find someone who can make a proper belt with this!

We were looking through old photos of her, and noticed she was wearing this necklace in 1949. It’s a delicate little diamonte necklace with a fine chain. My neck is too big for it, being as I have a small neck means it’s a pretty small necklace!

I remember this sand dollar necklace from when I was a kid. It was my favorite, because I loved sea shells growing up, and sand dollars were hard to find fully in tact.

I tend to like big chunky rings. Here I layered up three of my grandma’s rings to create a more dramatic effect. Worn next to the Diana ring, which was recently re-matted!

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sage & Style October 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm

A treasure trove of beautiful things (and memories.) My grandmother has started to pass down her things as well … there is nothing quite as striking as vintage jewelry that’s been worn for generations.
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2 jennine October 7, 2010 at 2:10 pm

so true, part of what makes something amazing is the story behind it. if it’s from your family it makes it all the more special.


3 Tami October 7, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Omg, what a treasure trove of gorgeous baubles! You’re so lucky to have these. My gma passed away when I was in high school and I didn’t get any keepsake from her, other than a reproduction of a faded photo.
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4 jennine October 7, 2010 at 2:11 pm

oh my… i’m sorry to hear that. when my other gran passed away, she didn’t have much either. i did get a few things, and i hope to get the photos in the near future. but yeah, thank god for scanners!


5 Sarah October 7, 2010 at 1:39 pm

What a beautiful, meaningful trove, and so glowingly photographed. I’ll bet the different pieces will cycle in and out (and back in) of “on-trendness” — you have but to wait and experiment!

I wonder if someone at Moss Mills could help with the belt, affixing the buckle to the leather of your choice. They have so many options, and might be willing to do this kind of thing.
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6 jennine October 7, 2010 at 2:12 pm

thanks for the tip! i have someone i’d like to ask, but if that doesn’t work out.


7 Jessica October 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm

This has been one of the most touching fashion posts I have ever read. My grandmother passed away last year and every now and then I wear the beautiful rings she once owned. Thanks for posting this, Jennine. It was beautiful.


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8 jennine October 7, 2010 at 2:15 pm

thanks jess… it means a lot to get a comment like this. i’m sorry to hear about your grandmother, i’m sure you really treasure her rings. :)


9 Angeles October 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm

WOW! Fabulous photos, I love jewelry, I’m making some right now and you inspire me!
Kisses and come to visit me.
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10 Ashe Mischief October 7, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I agree with Jessica- I love how intimate and touching this post is. I also love your grandfather’s response when handing you the Clinque bag.

Thank you for sharing, Jennine.
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11 jennine October 7, 2010 at 2:17 pm

yeah, he’s a funny guy. i wonder how they decided to put everything in a clinique bag!


12 Laura Connell October 7, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I adore your first snapshot. I too inherited some vintage costume jewellry when my grandmother died and it is priceless to me. It’s true they don’t make things like they used to! You also have the memories attached to them forever. It’s a beautiful thing.
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13 Katey October 7, 2010 at 2:38 pm

The cameo ring is amazing! I couldn’t think of a better tribute to her life than for you to receive that jewelry. Wear it well. I know you will. :-)


14 Penny Dreadful Vintage October 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Hello, I missed your original post as I wasn’t reading very much in the past few weeks - I am so sorry to hear about your grandma, but how special that you have her jewels to wear and feel close to her. I wonder whether you could simply affix a wide ribbon to the swan buckle? I know that often in the old days they wore fabric belts rather than leather; it would make a wonderful addition to a simple evening dress x
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15 Maria at BachmansSparrow October 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm

How fun! What a great way to keep your grandmother’s memory around, she was obviously a very stylish girl :)

xoxo Maria
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16 miss cavendish October 7, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Love seeing the vintage Sarah Coventry box! I remember learning about her jewelry in Seventeen, way back in the 1970s . . . Enjoy your grandmother’s lovely pieces.


17 WendyB October 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I used to play with my grandmother’s jewelry too. Haven’t thought of that in ages.

Still laughing at how the Diana is a whole new ring after its procedure.
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18 Maegan October 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss …but you get a bunch of pieces that are not only fabulous, but will remind you of her forever! I love wearing my grandma’s stuff. I only wish I had more of it!
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19 Ginta October 8, 2010 at 12:25 am

My grandmas passed away 10 and 20 years ago I was their only granddaughter and as my mom doesn’t wear jewelry at all I have all the keepsakes. I love to wear their jewels it’s bitter sweet but wearing them I find myself smiling looking at the ring or the necklace and feel closer to my grandmas. They were my inspiration and my heroes growing up and I love them to be with me daily.
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20 JewelryWhore October 8, 2010 at 6:41 am

What a lovely post. It’s amazing how much something like costume jewelry can come to mean to us. And it’s all so gorgeous!


21 Bella Q October 8, 2010 at 9:00 am

I am sure that the wet in my eyes on seeing the sand dollar necklace is allergies. I love the feeling of looking at older jewelry, seeing the memories clings to each thing, and am glad you treasure these tokens of your grandmother. The cameo ring caught my eye, and I picture you wearing it, invigorating it with your fresh outfits, along with the full of character sand dollar necklace, and remembering your grandma. I cherish this post, because it reminds me that there are people behind all things, and our love for them certainly adds priceless treasure to each piece.
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22 Amanda Aileen October 8, 2010 at 11:39 am

Thanks so much for sharing this. I have a lot of jewelry from my grandma and great grandma. Wearing those special pieces always reminds me of them and makes me feel like I am still keeping them close.
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23 cody | October 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

The sand dollar necklace caught my eye immediately… whenever we would go on vacation to the ocean my mom used to get up really early to take me down to the beach to look for sand dollars while the tide was low. They seem to evoke happy memories for so many people! I imagine that your grandmother would be pleased as punch that you’re showing off her baubles to the rest of the world! Very sweet.
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24 hillary October 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Oh this is so lovely. When my aunt was put in a home I was too mortified to accept her pieces, insisting she would need them. Of course then they were doled out to others. I’m thankful for the mementos I have. You will cherish yours!


25 MOUSEVOX October 11, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I’m sorry for your loss, dear. These beautiful keepsakes will carry so much meaning for you through the years. When my grandmother passed, I too inherited her vintage costume jewelry, as well as her vintage clothes and some non-costume jewelry and it all means so much to me now. Even better, I get much use out of what I inherited and I’m sure you will, too! xo.
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26 ANNIE October 11, 2010 at 2:16 pm

these are gorgeous! and beautiful pictures =)
you must feel really special to keep her jewels to wear!


27 Dawn October 11, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I think your grandmother would have loved what you’re doing with her jewelry. She was obviously a lady with good taste and who enjoyed her jewelry collection. She’d be delighted to know that you are doing the same.

The swan belt buckles and the sand dollar necklace are what really caught my eye. Just gorgeous!
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28 Vyque October 12, 2010 at 6:50 am

you can rematte rings? I may need to learn more about that!
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29 B. Jones Style October 13, 2010 at 8:36 am

What an amazing gift! So great to hold on to her memory that way and give it new life!
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30 City Girl October 13, 2010 at 8:58 am

Hi there! Your blog is gorgeous and I’m now following :) This post is lovely. What stunning pieces and so special! Your grandmother clearly had excellent taste! xx
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31 Casey October 14, 2010 at 6:03 am

Firstly, I somehow missed the post about your grandmother’s passing: my deepest sympathies and condolences!

What a lovely pieces to inherit! I always adore the idea of passing jewelry down in a family; and your grandmother had really good taste! I’m sure you’ll be sporting these pieces and treasuring them for years to come… :)

♥ Casey | blog


32 Andrea October 14, 2010 at 7:39 pm

So sorry to hear of your loss. It is nice that you can hold onto your grandmother’s memory by wearing some of her jewelry. I remember going through both of my grandma’s jewelry collections when I was young - Reading this post makes me wish I had held onto more physical memories from my grandparents.
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33 Lauren October 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Totally fabulous! My mother has saved a bunch of family heirlooms for me when I’m older. I really can’t wait.
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