Tuesday, June 5, 2012

{31 Things} Day 1: Jewelry

When I first committed to the 31 Things course I knew I was in for a challenge- I often can't manage to find time to write once a week, let alone every day. And indeed it has proven to be a bit of a struggle to get each day's entry done (Today is day twenty. I currently have about eight written.) But I'm trying. Every morning I check my email for that day's assignment, and attempt to spend at least a few minutes outlining my thoughts (usually while feeding Piper or pumping. At this stage, those times are pretty much my only chance to sit, so I try to make them count- even if it is only a few minutes at a time.) I was torn on if I would share them here, and I'm still not sure if I'm going to post them all (assuming I write them all!) but knowing that I'm already in the weeds with these entries, I don't really see any new blog fodder coming outside of these 31. So while I continue to plug away, here is my first entry. (and forgive the lack of photo...In theory those should be taken in real time, but I think I'm going to have to do a big photography blitz at the end.)


I love jewelry. Practically every girl says that...but I really do love jewelry. I'm an equal opportunist when it comes to jewelry loving though, as my collection runs the gamete between (a very few) high quality simple pieces, and (a ton of) silly over the top cheapies. I'm not impressed by price- for me it's all about the item itself. But even then, my love spans the spectrum. I appreciate the beauty of a simple pendant, and prefer the understated elegance of plain stud earrings, but most of the time I have to admit that I'm a bit of a "more is more" girl. In fact, I have to respectfully disagree with Ms. Coco Chanel: When I look at myself in the mirror before I leave the house, I typically put on one more piece of jewelry. What can I say? I love some sparkle.

I remember as a kid being fascinated with my mom and grandma's wedding rings (my mom has an emerald set between six diamond baguettes, while my grandmother's was a round solitaire diamond encircled in a swooping, filigree band). I would constantly try them on in church and loved to draw little sketches of the stones. My mom usually wore simple pieces, always gold, and my grandma never went anywhere without her plain gold tennis bracelet with the tiny hexagon charm (it was actually a medical bracelet for her diabetes...but what style!) But as much as I admired their simple taste, it was more dramatic things that caught my eye. I loved to see my aunt's jewelry- she seemed to have a ring for every finger- all silver from her time in Mexico. And I still remember my utter fascination with a stranger in a tanning salon (why I was there as a child is another story for another day) when I saw she had piercings all the way around her ears. There must have been twenty tiny hoops and I vowed I would pierce my own ears as many times as my parents would let me; which actually turned out to be quite a few. My first set came when I was an infant, to distract from my distinct lack of hair. I got my second holes in second grade- a source of utter jealousy among most of my friends. And from high school through college I added three more- single piercings in various cartilage crevices in my ears. I may not have literally emulated that White Snake video reject I so admired previously, but I did manage to adorn myself fairly liberally. I hesitate to mention the crazy whim of getting my eyebrow pierced as a high school junior (I want to stand proudly and tell you that it was so cool! But I think we all know that's not true. I at least had the good sense to remove it after a year or so...)

But thankfully my taste in jewelry has evolved over the years, so while high school was a never ending parade of tacky silver trinkets, BFF necklaces, and a personal favorite- a Japanese coin strung on a chain, I slowly amassed a larger collection of pieces that I won't be ashamed of later on. And now I'm finding a groove with my personal style- I tend to gravitate towards simple dressing with statement jewelry. I have an endless parade of nearly identical heather grey tops, but I like to mix up my look with a unique necklace (most likely large, and possibly crafted myself) or an armful (ok, two armfuls) of bangles (I might be addicted to that jingling noise they make). I have silly little rings I picked up at Forever 21, dramatic cuff bracelets that my grandmother got from Mexico and a couple of tiny Tiffany's necklaces. I love the mix of things, and how layers of jewelry add unique stories and history to an otherwise plain outfit.

Recently keepsake jewelry has been becoming more important. I had a couple pieces of "nice" jewelry, before Piper was born, but since then I've gotten a few things that are simple, but mean a lot to me. I have a plain gold necklace with a "P" engraved on it, a silver ring with Piper's monogram and a teeny tiny bean necklace to remind me of my little bean. It's all a little cliche, but at least it’s not a “#1 Mom” locket. I love the idea of passing things on to Piper, and while not all of my collection is exactly heirloom quality, I hope she gets a kick out of sifting through my baubles someday. My grandma had a TON of jewelry- it was all over the board too- lots of artsy statements that she made herself, a bunch of costume stuff, and then some real pieces she and my grandpa picked up on their travels. Although we spent a lot of time together when I was young, we were never super close, so it’s neat to share an unexpected bond over similar taste in accessories.

Out of my rotating grab bag of gems, there are only two things I wear every day, and each was a gift from Dustin. The first is a pair of princess cut diamond earrings he got me years ago. He gave them to me in celebration of "my day": a made up holiday that marked the milestone of when he had been with me the longest out of anyone he had dated. That was such an important marker for me back then, but six years, a wedding, and one child later, it seems like a pretty silly occasion. But I still love my simple studs (and the sometimes-simple stud who gave them to me), and like the occasional reminder of how our love has lasted…but changed…over the years.

The second piece of daily jewelry, predictably, is my wedding ring. Unconventionally, I actually picked out my own ring – an idea I thought I liked at the time, but always kind of regretted later. It’s a bit of a double edged sword though, because I’m pretty picky, and have a reputation as the queen of returning gifts, so we both thought that if I chose my own ring, I would end up with exactly what I wanted. Part of the problem though is that for some reason I got it in my head that wanting anything too big or flashy was shallow, and I wanted to seem “above that” to Dustin. (A ridiculous and unnecessary mind game that I blame on my young age, and our very young love. Turns out getting engaged at nineteen to a man you’ve known for three months leads to some silly challenges. But again- that’s another story for another day.) So I forced myself into something small and simple to prove it wasn't a big deal to me. I don’t think about it much anymore…my ring is beautiful, and after all this time, there are a million things that are more important symbols of our relationship. But if I think back on it, I do wish I could have just been honest with myself and him about what I actually loved and let him pick something out. Since then he’s talked occasionally about getting me a new ring but there have always been plenty of other things to spend money on instead. I’m not clamoring for a replacement, but I’m also not opposed to a surprise anniversary gift down the road. Maybe someday. But for now, I’ll pile on my token trinkets, clasp my first-baby bean charm around my necklace and jingle merrily along.


  1. Two things. One is obvious, and I'd like to agree Dustin is a stud. The second is that the eyebrow ring WAS cool in 2001. True confession, you saved me from getting one because I thought it would be weird if we both had them. So thank you.

  2. You didn't disappoint, Courtney! From first word to last, a great post that draws in even the non-jewelry lovers among your fans!

    Fashion world, schmashion world. You're a writer.

  3. Cook: hilarious, and true. you owe me one.

    Happy: thank you. truly. you're always so supportive as you wade through my wordy-wordness.