Karen Davidov, founder of The Jewelry Library, and I, JB Jones, Co-founder of NYC Jewelry Week, started a project called Ways We Say I Love You in 2020. It focused on the unique, and often simple, ways we, as humans, say “I Love You.” If you’re curious, you can dig deeper into that one here.

Considering the tumultuous and uncertain path we’ve all been on these past 2 years, Karen and I decided to return to the project and pose a new question: how do we say I love you now? We have some thoughts (in our usual jewelry-speak) – more thoughts than answers just to be clear – which we shared over the past 8 days on Instagram.

As we close out our exploration on the topic today, on Valentine’s Day, we have compiled the complete Q&A and the jewelry that inspired it below. We welcome you to send us your thoughts, or answers, as you browse through our musings. Reach us on Instagram @j_b_j_o_n_e_s and @thejewelrylibrary. Enjoy!

Day 1

Q: How do we say I love you?  

A: From a place deep within.

In trying to make sense of a world full of uncertainty, we’re not even sure who we are anymore. We’ve been talking less, and listening more, not just to others, but to ourselves. The Shield Mantis necklace by Daniela Villegas, shown above, is the quintessential piece for self-reflection. 

“The mantis deals with stillness and patience—taking its time, and living life at its own pace. They remind us to go within, meditate, get quiet and reach a place of calmness. To be mindful of our decisions, to be congruent in what we think, say and act.The mantis’ mindful movements are a representation and symbol of meditation and contemplation.” – Daniela Villegas

Day 2

Q: How do we say I love you?  

A: By seeing beauty in the everyday.

We’ve learned what’s important, and it’s the things we’ve often taken for granted. Like hugs.

French jewelry artist Julie Faber’s beribboned necklace, shown above, “honors” the everyday with an array of fruit – a ripe banana, the perfect summer tomato, a fresh lemon – as if plucked from an old masters’ still life painting, reminding us it IS always about the little things.

Day 3

Q: How do we say I love you?

A: With fearlessness. 

It may be a cliche, but the opposite of fear is love. Love more. Fear less. Fear less. Love more. That’s all there is to it.

Pictured below left is jeweler Jiwon Choi’s I Will Survive (aka Fearless) Earring.

Day 4

Q: How do we say I love you?

A: We just say it.  

To the young lady Cristina Rinaldi Belizzi,

Do never forget about me. Love me with your noble heart.

Receive my deeply filled with affection greetings from the person who loves you.

I send them with the feelings of lovers.

Your future spouse,

Francesco Greco

Pictured above right is a vintage gold-plated frame brooch by artist and jeweler Biba Schutz from the late 1980s featuring a photograph of her husband Ron’s Italian grandmother and grandfather, Cristina and Francesco. Here is their love story…

“My grandfather returned from World War I to discover his love Cristina was gone, sent off to America by her land-owning parents to get her away from her love, a lowly tailor. Desperate to find her, Francesco wrote a postcard and gave it to her sister with hopes that Cristina would receive it.”

She must have, because soon after, Francesco headed for America and found Christina living with relatives in Philadelphia. They married in 1921. 

Wear your heart on your sleeve, and a frame of your loved one on your heart! The Jewelry Library has a small selection of this wonderful “old stock” brooch available – you can add your own image. Contact them here for more info.

Day 5

Q: How do we say I love you? 

A: From a new vantage point. 

We’ve been through a lot these past two years. Collectively and individually. We’ve kept our head down and soldiered on, we’ve lost our minds and come to a stand still. We tried to take it all in and process it. We’ve succeeded and we’ve failed. 

We find ourselves, after traveling through an abyss of confusion, uncertainty, new frontiers and old fears, at the brink of a new future. Knowing we must build that new future from the rubble of knowledge we’re standing on.

Above we share a video of the work of recent Central Saint Martins’ graduate, Jo Harrison-Hall, to serve as a reminder of where we’ve been, what we discovered there, and how it can help us see clearly going forward. Harrison-Hall faced personal demons of OCD around cleanliness and germs throughout the pandemic, resulting in the creation of ‘Rinse and Repeat’, a body of work focusing on our developed practices and physical actions of ‘keeping clean’ during the pandemic.

“I began the project to acknowledge my own fears and anxieties about germs and getting ill, and to confront the excessive actions I was taking to calm my fears and ‘reduce risk’.”

“I created sculptures using soapstone and alabaster that place our hands in these positions when we interact with them, gently guiding us through the correct method. These tactile objects seem calming and meditative – much like how hand washing soothes our fears of germs.”

Whatever they are for each of us, let’s use them as guideposts for the future, realizing they play a part in who we are today, facing a new future, from a new vantage point. 

Day 6

Q: How do we say I love you?

A: By making love from what we have.

We’ll let the artist behind the piece featured above, matt lambert, explain what we mean…

“Swimming in ideas of love, brokenness, mark making and use while listening to Dolly Parton’s version of silver dagger and somehow this came out.” (Shown here is a large heart pendant on a wooden chain.) “Made from an unbroken piece of wood. Carved initials possibly forthcoming (when it finds a home).”

We say I love you by making love from what we have. Opening doors for strangers, making dinner for a friend, standing up for change when the world is in despair, carving a necklace out of wood to share how we feel and offering it up to others that might feel the same. Trying to make “love” appear in our world. matt shared the below quote in the Instagram post where we initially discovered the piece featured above:

“Without love, our efforts to liberate ourselves and our world community from oppression and exploitation are doomed. As long as we refuse to address fully the place of love in struggles for liberation we will not be able to create a culture of conversion where there is a mass turning away from an ethic of domination.” –– Bell Hooks, “Love as the Practice of Freedom”

Day 7

Q: How do we say I love you?

A: By remembering we’re all connected. 

We like to think of jewelry as a facilitator: to honor those who loved before us, to recall our origin stories, to bring our ancestors into fresh light. It serves as a reminder of our common ground. On common ground we can move forward in understanding and respect of those around us. Because we are all connected. And that’s the where, how and why of love.

Picture above is a hand-carved ring by Brooklyn based artist & jeweler Soull Ogun of L’Enchanteur: “I feel like we be bringing Ancestors back (forward) to the realm…”

Day 8

Q: How do we say I love you?

A: However you choose. 

Shown below are A-M-O-R rings by Paola Vilas – perfect to say “I love you” however you choose. On Valentine’s Day or any day of the year.

Editorial written by NYC Jewelry Week Co-Founder JB Jones and Karen Davidov, Founder of The Jewelry Library. Images courtesy of the artists and jewelers credited above. Edited and formatted by JB Jones.