No one in our family ever had any pieces of magnificent jewellery but even the most ordinary piece has its story.
My mother always wore her wedding band and engagement ring. The diamond in the ring wasn’t big and the band was plain but they were what my father could afford in 1947. As she got older and her fingers were thinner, she kept losing them, one or other or both. Luckily, the staff at her residence kept finding them. Eventually, they encouraged me to keep them.
After, when I would visit my mother, she would look at her hands and the freshly done nails and say, “You have my rings and I want them!” She thought her hands were naked without them and nobody would know she was married.
“I really want them!” she would say.” She would tell others that Mary had her rings in a Birk’s box in her bureau drawer.
I bought her costume jewellery replacements. She had stories for those too. One, a ‘diamond ring’, she said a policeman found on the street and gave it to her. That one disappeared. Another set she said was her grandmother’s and she was sad when they were thought to be lost. Even a couple of days before she died she still said to me, “I want my rings!”
When we divided up her jewellery there was a large blue glass pin in the shape of a flower. None of us remembered her wearing it or even seeing it before. I gave it to my cousin Sharon. When her brother died recently I looked for pictures of him. There was one when he was a new baby being held by his Grannie, Beatrice Raguin and she was wearing that pin. So now Sharon has something that belonged to her Grannie.
Beatrice Raguin also had a thistle pin, silver with topaz coloured stones. She belonged to a sewing group where all the other ladies were from Scotland. She was French Canadian although born in Greenbay, Wisconsin. So as to fit in, she bought the pin and told everybody she was from Aberdeen. My mother gave me that pin.
Minnie Eagle Sutherland, my other grandmother worked for Ryrie Brothers in Toronto as a jeweller. I have a stick pin that I think she made. It has a spiral of gold on the top with a tiny diamond and a pearl and now rests in a tiny rectangular box. It might have been a wedding present for her husband as she didn’t work after they were married. There is also a picture of a Union Jack made out of stones and on the back it says made by Minnie Eagle. Unfortunately, we don’t have that piece of jewellery!
Dad did give my mother a few other pieces of jewellery. He once bought her a silver bracelet at the Tower of London on a business trip to Britain. He said the intricate metalwork reminded him of her tatting. She gave it to me because I could also tat.
Mom was right. Her rings are in a Birk’s box in my bureau drawer. We haven’t yet decided how their story will continue.