The Meaning of Jewels in My Memoir, Jewels That Speak

In my blog, Revision X6?, I said I would talk a little about the meaning of jewels in my memoir. If I try to remember when I first began to make attachment to stones, it probably came from observing the mysterious luminous blue luster of my mother’s Georg Jensen moonstone ring from the time I was born.

My hands are short, my fingers a bit stubby, the kind you want to hide behind your back if someone stares at them too hard. My mother’s hands were elegant, her fingers long; they deserved to be looked at. As a very young child, when I was in close proximity to her, I liked to lie with my head on a pillow, my feet up in the air, my eyes on Mom, and play with her hands. The only ring she wore in those days was the moonstone, and like her hands, it was beautiful.

When I thought of different ways I could go about telling my story, I suddenly hit on the idea of revealing parts of my heritage through the personal and mystical meaning of jewels. That I care about jewel stones is something that anyone who knows me really well can concur. If I don’t ever wear a jewel stone I’ve been given, there is a definite reason for it. Jewels connect me to my past, my present, and future. They connect me to my father, my mother, my grandmothers, my famous great-grandfather (Louis Comfort Tiffany), and my even more famous great-great-grandfather (Charles Lewis Tiffany, the Tiffany of Tiffany and Co). Jewels remind me of the self I was in the past, and connect me to who I am today. Jewels gather meaning as time goes on.

Jewels and Clocks

Looking for art experiences in the San Francisco Arts Monthly, I spotted “Cartier and America” at the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park. While Paul was off having lunch with his son, Jesse, and two attorneys, I treated myself to this exhibit.

All I can say is, “Wow!” I am glad I did.

The SFA Monthly claims the exhibit

covers the history of the House of Cartier from its first great successes
as the “king of jewelers and jeweler to kings during the Belle Epoque

through to the 1960s and 1970s, when Cartier supplied celebrities of the days with jewels and luxury accessories.

I came away with wonderment at the visual images of Cartier’s mystery clocks–the hands of which seem to float in the air with no signs of the working mechanism.

The diamond tiaras made me see how such a spectacular adornment could render a mere pretty woman with means into the stature of beautiful queen. These jewels draw the viewer’s eyes to the top of the head where they bedazzle the hair with the glory of flashing light and glimmer of color. Just looking at them from the outside of a glass box made me immediately enter the Belle Epoque as an onlooker exclaiming, “Oh my, oh my!” squeezing my eyes shut, only to pop them open as me now and say, “God, how lovely they are!”

And, I guess I just have to mention Grace Kelly’s 10 carat emerald cut diamond engagement ring from Prince Rainer III, accompanied by a film clip of her wearing it in “High Society.” I, like the women to either side of me at the exhibit, stared at it. I don’t know what they were thinking but I was thinking…it’s so large for a diamond ring, but that cut is such an exquisite form: so simple, so over-the-top gorgeous, so perfect for such a beauty as the young, classy Grace Kelly; a fairy tale jewel for the princess of a fairy tale. I couldn’t help it. I was swept away.