Granny’s Chips

When I visited my folks this summer, my mom let me go through her jewelry boxes and pick out some heirloom pieces to keep. Among the loot I brought home were two glass bead necklaces that belonged to my great-grandmother, Bessie Lynam; one emerald-green, the other peridot. They were too small and fragile for me to wear as they were, so I planned to re-string them. (Of course, I completely neglected to take “before” pictures.)

My brothers’ birthstones are peridots* and mine is emerald, so I thought I would like to have them combined into a necklace that would match Ramona’s mother’s ring, which I also brought home. I contacted a really marvelous jewelry-designer I know to see if he was up for a challenge–and was he ever! I own several of Dana’s pieces and deeply admire his work–and he knows what I like and what suits my personality. Off he went with the beads to dream and design.

A couple months went by, with a few emails back and forth about details, and then one day, he emailed to say that it was ready for me to see. He attached pictures, in case I wanted to request any changes.
Necklace 1

Necklace 2

Nope, no changes needed here! I emailed back: “YES! Gimme, gimme!” The necklace is stunning and gorgeous and so far beyond perfect that I hardly have words for it. I just LOVE it, and the various options for wearing it. So far, I’ve been favoring the large pendant in front. I do love a dramatic neck piece!

Many years ago, I read a story about a spectacular diamond brooch owned by Queen Elizabeth II, which is jokingly called “Granny’s Chips” by the royal family. It’s made of two enormous stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond, which had been part of a necklace worn by Queen Mary, Elizabeth’s grandmother. The younger queen found it either too old-fashioned or too extravagant to wear, so she had the necklace broken up and made into other pieces. Something about the story stayed with me all these years–maybe the idea of inheriting multi-million dollar jewels of historical significance and thinking, “Oh, this won’t do at all!”

Our family hand-me-downs are vastly more modest than those of the Windsors, but nevertheless, I feel entirely queenly in my own version of “Granny’s Chips”.

* There is also a topaz-colored string, and much too late, I realized that if I had included them in the request, I would have had all my brothers represented–I have a step-brother whose birthstone is topaz. But at the time, I was just thinking of matching the mother’s ring.

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One Response to Granny’s Chips

  1. Ramona says:

    You have no idea how happy this makes me to think that Grandma’s beads are going to have a second life – more chances to be worn, enjoyed, admired. Thank you for following through on a project I had only thought about – and to such a gorgeous result. Grandma Bessie would be proud.

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