A few years ago, my Beloved Aunt Alice (my father's older sister) parted ways with the living. She was an amazing woman on so many different levels, and she touched each of us in special and unique ways; leaving every one of us believing that we had her absolute attention (and maybe rightfully so, as she had a huge heart and so much to give). We miss you Alice.
A few months after her passing, a number of us received packages in the mail that included an item of jewelry from her collection. The piece I received was a necklace that I wouldn't myself wear—I don't really wear gold-colored stuff—but after just a few minutes of looking at it, I knew what to do, and I sent an email with a photo of it to my very favorite jeweler: Jen Burrall in Portland, Maine. She replied that the red beads did look like carnelian and agreed to do a closer inspection of the piece to see what she could do with it for me. I figured that if I could wear the beads in some way, that I would be honoring Alice, but if the necklace sat in the back of a drawer for the rest of my life, that it would be sad and pointless.
So, I sent the necklace off to Maine (we were living in Seattle at the time), and Jen harvested the carnelian and disposed of the garish gold balls. All that remained of the original necklace were the smaller round beads, but that was enough for her to work with. She sent me a few ideas via email and I chose one. Here's her sketch:
Not long after that, the most amazing necklace arrived in the mail. Here's the picture that I immediately took and posted to my various social media worlds:
She did it! Jen turned something basically unusable into something absolutely spectacular. And honestly, I wear this necklace quite a lot, and just about every time I do, someone asks me about it or mentions how gorgeous it is. Alice continues to be honored on a regular basis. Thank you Jen!
So ... the point of this blog post is actually not about that necklace from years ago, nor about Sweet Alice. It's about the fact that my Dear Cousin Lex turned fifty this past year. Happy Birthday Sweetie! Lex was another one of us who had that extra-special bond with Alice—a bond that is just about impossible to break. It will always be there. Forever! And when we get together, we always talk about Alice and our memories of her.
When Jen sent me her completed masterpiece all those years ago, she also returned the remaining beads from the original necklace, and I've been saving them since. Waiting for a reason to somehow use them.
Lex has seen my necklace and stated her love for it. And we each sniffed a tear or two when I told her where the beads had come from and how Jen had brilliantly repurposed them for me. (From what I remember, I think she received a set of odd earrings from the estate?). So it seemed only natural that I would have Jen make a set of three necklaces with the remaining beads: one for Lex's fiftieth, one for her sister (also known as my Awesome Cousin Clare, who will also eventually turn fifty), and one for my mom, who was an integral part of Alice's life, especially in the years since moving to Maine.
So, off I sent the beads to Jen. And oh look what came back! A set of three astonishing necklaces that are clearly part of a set, but that each stand on their own.
Lex's is the one in the middle, Clare's is the rectangular one in the front, and the faceted one in the back is for my mom.
Again, it's only the round carnelian beads that are from the original necklace, but look how perfectly Jen matched them with a few other faceted carnelian beads ...
I adore Jen's twirly bits ...
And just look at those gorgeous pendants. Here they are up close:
Each of the necklaces uses a different mix of chain and hammered circles ... and yet they all so clearly belong together as a set, too.
I love Jen's hammered circles!
And those hooks!
They are stunning, Jen! Thank you so much for making yet more memories for me and my family.
Happy Birthday Lex! Cheers!