“Once upon a time…” Remember as a child anticipating story time, the weaving of a web of magic and romance? Fairy tales and family legends link us to the larger drama of life. From Spiderman to Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet, we identify with the hero, the princess, the conquest of villains, the star-crossed love or happily ever after.
As we grow, we enter the drama. We begin to weave our own unique story, the expression of our life. We celebrate its unique narrative through mementos and charms. Jewelry has a special role.
From ancient times, precious and beautiful objects have been used to commemorate life. Shell beads from a necklace found in what is now Israel date back incredibly over 100,000 years. This oldest known jewelry was made by perforating shells of the sea snail Nassarius gibbosulus, indicating that ancient people were expressing themselves with symbols, a sign of modern culture. They were celebrating life long before written language existed.
Australian aborigines, said to have the longest continual cultural history of any people on Earth - up to 65,000 years - tell their creation or dreaming stories through drama, dance and music, expressions as old as humankind. Through this ceremonial, sacred storytelling their powerful creation myths have been kept alive throughout aeons. Enacting their collective story empowers it and the natural law embedded within. Artifacts including sculpture, painting, ornaments and jewelry also play parts in their cultural drama, their living history.
The received view is that recorded history began around 3000 BCE when writing as we know it began. But for 100,000 years people have been telling their stories through drama, dance, music including oral tales, art and artifacts. History is our collective story. Very recently - about 5000 years ago - we began telling our stories in a different way, through written, linear script. But storytelling and the expanse of human history draw from a deeper well.
The question is invariably asked about the exquisite, evocative cave drawings in Lascaux, France from 17,000 BCE - why did they paint them? We know why because we share the same human impulse. We’re telling our story. We create our life and then create beyond it through words and music, art and drama. It’s the universal human experience. Through storytelling we communicate. We imbue significance. We glimpse immortality.
Today popular charm bracelets bring to life the special events of our life - our milestones, children, travels, hobbies. The exchanging of wedding rings symbolizes the intertwining of two life stories. Heirlooms are particularly precious because they commemorate family ties over generations. They link us to our ancestors. When you wear your grandmother’s ring her story continues to live on through yours. When Prince William presented Kate Middleton with the former Princess Diana’s iconic sapphire and diamond engagement ring, he said he was celebrating his mother’s being there in spirit, sharing in the new couple’s happiness.
Provenance is the story associated with an object. A necklace or painting carries with it it’s own story. The more powerful the provenance, the more valuable the object. Pieces associated with celebrities or fascinating stories can add value dramatically. Think of the Hope Diamond or collections owned by Liz Taylor or the late Duchess of Windsor. Jewelry worn by a celebrity at the Oscars or style icons such as the late Jackie Kennedy has an added ripple effect, spawning added value to similar pieces.
When presenting jewelry to clients, sell the story. Beyond technical specifications such as the 4 Cs, weaving a story casts a spell. It creates magic and romance. Diamonds are forever. The blue heart shaped necklace from the movie Titanic captured the elements of the story - the deep blue of the sea, the poignant love drama. How rich the pendant becomes because of its legend. Stories speak to the heart. They move us.
Designers have a story. It’s their inspiration. They create collections, each with a built-in story adding value. Individually named pieces add another layer of richness. As a designer’s collections grow, the brand influence expands as well, creating more impact. The brand encapsulates the story. Brands sell. Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” helped escalate the status of the jewelry house to universal icon. People today still enter Tiffany’s asking where they may breakfast!
So what’s your story? Your story is your life. As you create your own, celebrate and commemorate the journey. The impulse is as ancient and universal as humankind.
Mia Katrin is an award-winning jewelry designer featured in over 70 top stores nationally. She is available for lectures and seminars. To add her Collections or book a lecture: www.jeweljewel.com, 877 539-3569, facebook.com/MiaKatrinforJEWELCOUTURELLC.