I inherited my mom’s jewelry boxes a few years ago. These jewelry boxes contained a hodgepodge of jewelry and other trinkets. Each of these pieces are now vintage and represent a special slice of time. I decided never to buy jewelry again. I am in the process of documenting this collection of jewlery and call it Eleventeen Jewelry. I intend to wear many of the pieces. I love vintage jewelry.
Some of these now vintage pieces had belonged to my grandma, my great grandma, and even great aunts. Small items passed down through generations. None of it is of high monetary value, but it is all of high nostalgia value.
As a hobby I started documenting each piece of jewelry and called my project Eleventeen Jewelry. Eleventeen was the secret code word I used with my kids when they were little. We adopted this word from one of my kids who always used to say “eleventeen” when learning to count to 20. When I was trying to think of a name for my Instagram account for the jewelry collection, the word Eleventeen just popped in my head and stuck.
When I was about 11, not yet a teenager, I would stand at my mom’s dresser in front of her mirror and look through her jewelry boxes and her drawers. They were full of women’s cuff links, brightly colored 1970s paisley silk scarves, tiny white sample size tubes of Avon lipsticks in every shade of pink, prickly overnight hair rollers, and Dippity Do! I loved that green sparkly Dippity Do hair setting gel. I would dip my fingers into the glittery green gel and rub it between my fingers and smell it–like it was some kind of space-age science experiment.
When I opened my mom’s jewelry boxes after she died, I smelled Dippity Do and Avon lipstick. Or maybe it was just my scent-memory taking over, making me think I smelled Dippity Do and Avon lipstick. Whichever way, it was an experience that took me back to the late 1970s. Simpler times–maybe not for the world–but for me.
I wanted to share the jewelry with people. Some of it was kind of out of style, wasn’t really worth anything, and some of it was broken, so I wasn’t really sure how to do that. Photographing and describing the jewelry seemed best. I set up an Instagram account and started posting photos of the jewelry, but I didn’t get very far. I wanted to try to find old photos of my mom or grandma wearing this now vintage jewelry.
Cold War Era Vintage
However, I did notice that one item, a very special tie tack, was popular on Instagram. I will post on that later. Investigate the Instagram account to find it here.
None of the jewelry was worth anything. But when I was little I thought it was very fancy. Over the years I have worn several items from the jewelry box. And I received many compliments! The items are, I guess, unexpected in this day and age. These items are vintage even though they are not 100 years old. I think something from the Cold War Era can be now considered “vintage.”
Then the pandemic hit, and I had to work from home online on Zoom. I decided to wear the “vintage” jewelry once in a while to my online meeting and class sessions. People could only see me from the chest up anyway. At times these jewelry items were conversation pieces that helped keep things rolling in the awkwardness of the online world of work. I wrote a bit about this here.
But there was more in these jewelry boxes than jewelry. Among other things, there were little figurines and trinkets, an antique pair of scissors, and some little prints of jaunty scenes that used to hang on the wall in our backdoor powder room. The Eleventeen Jewelry Instagram account shows some of these items.
My mom kept everything that was handed down to her: old silver spoons from New England, floral plates from Bavaria, old buttons and lace, and painted cannisters for sugar, flour, and barley from a small town in Minnesota. There was even an old crimping iron my great grandma used in, I’m guessing, the 1920s. Again, none of this is of much monetary value and these are items commonplace in the US, but all together they form a unique collection.
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