A Grandmother's Broken Pearls Reimagined
Earlier this spring Debbie and Kelsey came to me with a box of heirlooms and an idea: they not only wanted to reimagine their late mother and grandmother’s jewelry, but hoped to honor her legacy by designing a unique piece for each woman in the family.
After sorting and going through the late matriarch’s estate, a broken strand of pearls—too small to be restrung and worn—brought back the most memories: Effie Flowers rarely missed an opportunity to wear a pearl necklace (or two) when she sat for a photo.
With only a fragment to work with and multiple women in mind, we decided to completely deconstruct and divide the pearls. Collaborating on each piece to suit the personality of the recipient, the pearls were thoughtfully used as accents in a new, modern design: for a new mom a short, simple necklace with a few pearls to fit her evolving lifestyle with a baby, earrings for the younger women coming of age to wear to formal events, statement necklaces with art deco pieces from the 1920s for the women who love to accessorize, matching necklaces for sisters made with gold beads from a piece they once gifted their mom, and several more.
During my time with Kelsey and Debbie, I learned about a woman that treasured her family, loved life, and welcomed everyone open arms. Playing a small role in memorializing the life and love of “Mema” for the women she loved so dearly, is something I will always treasure and remember myself.
Your stories are my favorite. And I’m forever humbled that you choose tor share and entrust me with them—thank you.
Keep scrolling to see the final pieces and read from Kelsey about the process.
Family heirloom pieces used: pearls, gold sphere and oval beads, and a cameo.
New elements and pieces from Glen & Effie's inventory: 1920s rhinestone shoe and fur clips, 14k gold filled chains, gold plated earring bases, small freshwater pearls.
What did you admire most about your grandmother?
She always had an air of contentment about her. Being around her was easy and comfortable. She took things slow but her actions were deliberate and done with purpose, always in service to other without complaint.
What was it like collaborating on designs with Brooke?
Working with Brooke was a dream! We had one strand of pearls to turn into pieces for 8 very different women and she helped us create something specific to each of our styles while honoring the memory of Mema. I know she would’ve loved to have a chance to wear every single one.
Did you have a favorite part of working with or collaborating on the designs?
Brooke’s patience and helpful guidance along the way was incredible! She gave us ownership over the designs but was such a huge help when we needed to get started or have a fresh perspective on what was possible to create.
How do you feel about your new heirloom?
I wear it every single day and have never loved a piece more. It’s so special to have my grandmother’s pearls around my neck - I really can’t describe the feeling.