Friday, November 15, 2013

Jewel Box

My first jewelry cache was a cream box with handpainted flowers that opened up to a pirouetting ballerina in front of a tiny oval mirror.  I didn't have much jewelry - just some bits and bobs - a small locket from my grandparents, a traditional gift for a young miss.  They also gave me a turquoise ring and a silver charm bracelet which they added to every birthday.  I still have that bracelet and it is heavy with charms:  a mailbox which opens to reveal two hearts, a Christmas tree, a small caged box with the words "Mad Money" etched on it.  That charm came with a dollar bill crushed inside but a needy brother swiped it and the cage was never filled again.

Also in that jewelry box were gum wrapper chains, buttons, bobby pins, a lone earring or two, and an unusual rectangular black mosaic brooch with a red rose.  That pin was given to me by my mother who had no use for it and I often wore it in my ponytail when I was playing dress up.  A few times in the 80's, I used it as a bar pin on the collar of a tailored shirt and it started a few conversations.  But then it was relegated to the depths of whatever jewelry box I was using at the time...something always there, but unworn and unheeded.

A while ago, I found a large wooden jewelry box with a garish multi-colored crystal butterfly with waving antennae glued to the top.  I didn't like the butterfly but I liked the roominess of the box and the helpful dividers it came with.  Since I had acquired a cacophony of tangled earrings over the years, I decided I would tolerate the butterfly to have the box's space and it worked out well at first.  The dividers kept earring mates safely together and the "first floor" was large enough for bracelets, necklaces, and pins. Then last summer, I inherited a small cherry jewelry box that was diminutive and just too darling. There was certainly less room, but its pretty petite ways charmed me into thinking I could downsize.  Plus the woman who had owned the box was a unique and kind peripheral relative who was moving to assisted living and whom I admired and liked very much for her love of life.  I associated the box with her and her graceful ways so I found myself purging, moving things around, and generally tidying up.  I bought a small dress form to hold my necklaces so I could fill the little box with only my favorite and smallest precious pieces.  I tried to be organized, neatly putting away my baubles every night.  But after a few weeks, I noticed I couldn't close the lid of the gifted box unless my bracelets were stacked a certain way and one of the narrow drawers always seemed to have a dangling whatsit when I tried to shut it.  I had to buy a small crystal bowl to hold my rings outside the box.  I never had this problem with the large but rather vulgar butterfly box and in frustration one day, I pulled it back down from the shelf, put away the ring holder and dress form, and filled the box to the brim again.  The lid shut tightly. The butterfly smirked.

Then my relative died. And in the month or two since, I often found myself thinking of her kindness and infectious joie de vivre.  Like her jewelry box, she too was dainty and elegant - not showy but pretty with an eye for lovely things. It was true, I thought, the little box was better made than the gargantuan butterfly box.  And its cherrywood had a rich patina that was unmatched by anything else in the house.  I also missed its curved style and unusual drawers with nooks and crannies.  Fortunately, I had not made it to Goodwill yet and the donation bag was still in the trunk of the car.  I raced outside like nobody's business and rifled through that bag until my hand touched upon the smooth rounded box.  I carried it back into the house like a crown on a pillow, placed it on the bed next to my scattered jewelry and began the task of organizing again.  But when I pulled open the bottom drawer to fill it, my eye caught something tucked in the corner.  It was the rectangular black mosaic brooch with the rose pattern; left behind, almost donated and lost to me forever.  Suddenly, I realized that some things are just meant to be lovely however impractical.  They are perfect nonetheless.


  1. Lovely! I had that same ballerina box.

  2. What a relief that you saved the pin, Donna! Whew! I have no jewelry box and am always on the hunt for one that isn't the gargantuan type, but I've yet to find one. So glad you still have the pretty little box!

  3. Beautifully put! Practical rarely equals perfect.

  4. Love your Jewelry Box! I have a jewelry box very similar to you. I appreciate if you share the pictures of your Jewelry items.

  5. Hi Lisa, I will do that in an upcoming post. I did share a story about my grandmother's garnet bracelet though. It's a sweet jewelry box and thank goodness I cherished it before it was gone forever! Thank you for your comment.