I already blogged about February’s Jewel of the Month — Phala’s redesigned ring — but I now have better video showing the piece before, during, and after the process.
More importantly, I have Phala’s own description of what led to her redesign project and what the ring symbolizes for her. Even though it’s a sad story, it’s still a love story, and Valentine’s Eve feels like the right time to share it. Here’s what she wrote:
“In April of 2017, I lost my darling husband, Joe, suddenly and unexpectedly. I was a widow at 55, navigating a life I never expected. One of the major decisions was what to do with my wedding rings. Joe and I shared a July birthday, so he picked rings that had both diamonds and our birthstone, rubies. ⠀
I knew Wendy Brandes redesigned jewelry, so I got in touch. I was especially drawn to two rings she redesigned previously, both of which had a viney, romantic feel. I really loved the idea of making my two rings into a single ‘Widow’s Ring.’ ⠀
Wendy did a beautiful job, incorporating all the stones from my two rings into a single unique piece that both pays tribute to the love Joe and I shared and lets me carry the remembrance of that love with me always on my right hand. I particularly love the placement of the rubies under the main setting and in the band — I think it’s like our hearts, mine and Joe’s. Apart for now, but always together too.”
I’m glad Phala found her way to me, particularly because many of my designs over the years have been inspired by antique mourning jewelry. It’s never been just the look of that jewelry that appeals to me, but the meaning of it. I get very emotional looking at a ring from 1661, for instance, and knowing that someone wore it against his or her skin to keep the memory of a loved one literally close at hand.
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Between the volatile nature of society in 1661 and the massive social change that came with it, a ring of such high quality should be seen as the template for others to follow. Its personal nature relates the ring directly to Samuel, from its design to its hair, ensuring that a loving token could be passed through generations of the Nicholets family. #mementomori #mourningring #skull #death #yolo #coatofarms #crossbones
And how amazing is it to think that centuries later, because of a piece of jewelry, we know that a man named Samuel lived, died, and was mourned by his family. It’s a tiny piece of immortality, and I’m truly honored to have had the opportunity to create a modern-day equivalent for Phala and Joe.
For the still photos of Phala’s redesign, see my original post. For more historical mourning jewelry, I highly recommend the Art of Mourning Instagram account.