by Jackie Andrews

What does The Power of Jewelry mean to you?

NYCJW 2021’s theme, The Power of Jewelry gave us a perfect opportunity to launch this new writing platform. As we worked on developing the plans for Future Heirloom, it became increasingly clear that the vast potential of this theme invited us to take the theme further than a single NYCJW season—which is why it became the permanent theme of Future Heirloom

As we kicked off the warmup campaign in anticipation of NYC Jewelry Week in November, we also wanted to share a more in-depth look at what The Power of Jewelry means—so today, I’m going to share a bit about what the theme means to me, and invite you to share your own story with us, as well. 

Jewelry has always held special meaning in my life. I lost my paternal grandparents at a very young age, and I came to appreciate heirloom jewelry very early on; more recently, I lost my great aunt, and have added some of her jewelry to my collection as well. I have inherited all kinds of objects and collections from my family, and they’ve been a big part of my love of antiques and collecting; but the jewelry I have from them is particularly important to me. Wearing the pieces that my family had loved before me has always been one of the primary ways I’ve kept them close—keeping their memory alive and a part of my everyday life has been so valuable. Here, I’m sharing some of my favorite heirloom pieces—including my papa’s identification bracelet, my nana’s school ring and her own mother’s signet ring, my nana’s costume pearls, my great aunt’s charm bracelet, including charms she collected on her travels, and a gold strawberry pin that belonged to my great grandmother. Also — my own Future Heirloom, a rose gold heart pendant my mother gifted me when I was little.

Jackie’s heirloom jewelry.

The sentimental value of those pieces, fine jewelry and costume alike, far outweighs any intrinsic value they might have. That sense of sentimental value and the sacredness of memory in an object was one of the primary reasons I fell in love with jewelry as a medium—from the beginning, it always felt like jewelry had the potential to tell so many stories I wanted to tell. 

Beyond heirloom jewelry, the other way I think about The Power of Jewelry in my daily life is as a mode of self expression. Returning to my love of collecting, one of the great loves of my life is kitsch. I unapologetically love kitsch, I am a proud maximalist, and I love to showcase my love of kitsch and maximalism through my wardrobe (if you read about Fifi, my childhood alter ego, this is probably no surprise to you). With that in mind, I also wanted to share just a few of my favorite kitschy pieces and why they’re important to me.

Jackie’s kitsch & art jewelry.

Those include: a charm necklace covered in vintage cracker jack charms I made years ago, when I was working as an art camp counselor; a faux-pearl necktie that I bought on eBay simply because it was irreverent and fun; my absolute favorite beaded valentine brooch, complete with detachable beaded charms that one of my best friends, and fellow art jeweler Breana Ferrara
(@corpulence_drip) made; and a kitschy oversized leather pendant of my own making, Queer Valentine, created for an NYCJW exhibition a couple years back. All of these pieces bring me joy, and make me feel like my most full self—if that’s not exemplary of The Power of Jewelry, I really don’t know what is.

Now that I’ve shared a look into my own jewelry collection with all of you—I want to invite you to share your own stories about The Power of Jewelry in your own life. In celebration of the theme and all that it means, we want to engage you, our readers, directly in an ongoing dialogue about the power jewelry holds in our lives. So today, we are launching a special NYCJW21 campaign designed specifically for Future Heirloom: we invite you to tell us what The Power of Jewelry, means to you using the form below; we’ll be curating and sharing the stories we receive on the blog in the months to come. 

Writing and Photography by Jackie Andrews. Valentine brooch by Breana Ferrara.