A memory from long ago: My mom and I are wearing our pajamas, watching QVC and sitting on her bed with all of her Joan Rivers brand jewelry strung out in front of us. I’m trying on long, long strands of gold-colored glass pearls, mom is picking through a shallow drawer full of egg pendants. Joan Rivers and host Kathy Levine are trying things on, too. They’re on the TV in mom’s room, and as mom and I are putting on little fashion shows for each other, Joan and Kathy are chatting and laughing. Kathy reports what ring sizes are still available, and then explains what the bee pin signifies when given as a gift.
The TV fades to background noise as we become distracted by mom’s own collection. But then Kathy delivers news that snaps my mom to attention: “The bee pin is on Easy Pay!” Mom looks at me for encouragement to make the buy. “You’ve got to do it,” I say as I hand her the phone.
Another memory from years later: Princess Diana is in the news. There’s been a car accident in Paris, and, while no one knows the extent of her injuries, the violence of the collision and the damage to her car is so extreme that survival seems unlikely. I’m spending the night at my parents’ house, and mom and I are oblivious to this story of global interest. There’s a late-night jewelry show on QVC—it’s Diamonique this time—and we’re busy. It’s only during a break, when mom does a channel scan with the remote, that we find out what the world already knows.
My mom has collected costume jewelry (and some fine jewelry) as long as I can remember, and the hunt for new pieces has been a running theme throughout her life. QVC has sourced her hobby, to be sure, but her pieces have come from literally everywhere. To this day, if you go shopping with my mom, she will return home with a pair of earrings, a charm bracelet, a choker. Her internal jewelry detection sensors are so refined that she can pick up the scent of a solitary necklace from fifty paces in the most unlikely locales, like hardware stores, bake sales, and carpet remnant outlets. No one knows how many pieces are in her collection at this point (I don’t even think she knows), but she has fantastic taste, and many items are sparkly stunners.
My favorite pieces are those she has acquired from flea markets and antique stores. Until a recent visit, I had no idea how many of these vintage jewels she had. Picture it: there we were, sitting on her bed, stacks of jewelry trays around us, studying each item just as we did when I was a kid, letting all of the sparkle feed our imaginations: we’re princesses getting ready for the ball, explorers discovering lost treasures, heisters surveying our haul.
When I first approached my mom for “a few pieces” I could profile in my blog, my scope was fairly broad; I just wanted to feature vintage items that appealed to me. But there were too many things that appealed to me, so I decided to narrow my focus to pins. What follows are some of my favorite vintage pins in her collection.
Like any hobbiest, one of my mom’s favorite things to do is just take out her pieces and arrange and organize them. Can you blame her? I’ve never been the jewelry enthusiast my mom is, but my love of design and color draws me to examine each piece like I would an artifact in a museum. They’re little pieces of art that call for placement in pretty vignettes. Is there a better way to spend a rainy day?
Until next time…