My mom has two sisters, one older and one younger. A few months ago they were together in Florida and I thought it would be fun to sort of interview them together to see where their jewelry inspiration came from when they were growing since we all spent time together when I was growing up. The oldest sister, Aunt Janice even made and sold her own jewelry so it was fun to play in her studio when I’d visit during the summer. Clearly, this jewelry thing is in my blood.
Each of the sisters was given a small diamond ring when they turned 16. The younger sister, Aunt Marianne aka Aunt Merk (don’t ask me where it came from because all I can remember is that my Pap called her Muzzy) was here recently and mentioned that to me. I said yes! My mom gave me hers when I turned 16! It’s a small rose gold ring with three tiny diamonds and my guess is they are old mine cut but I’m not sure. As much as I play one in my tool shed, I am no diamond expert!
Aunt Merk, Aunt Janice, Aunt Suzy (my mom)
I started thinking about being around them during summers and holidays and what jewelry did I remember? Mainly I remember a three stone diamond ring my Aunt Janice had made that I think was her wedding ring when she married her second husband when I was in about 5th grade. I still remember the wedding in the back yard of her house in Pittsburgh!
Aunt Merk was the only one to respond to my interview questions so far so I’m sharing in this post. I’ll nail down the other two at some point….
- What was your 1st piece of jewelry?
If you count the piece I dug out of Scotty Douthett’s sand box when I was still young enough to be playing in sand boxes then it is a little gold filigree ring with a purple center stone and smaller clear stones around it. I still have it and wear it on a gold necklace. If you count the first “real” piece purchased at a jewelry store then it would be my 16th birthday diamond ring. For each of our 16th birthdays Mother gave the sisters a ring purchased at Hazel Aupke’s Antique Jewelry Shop located in downtown Pittsburgh around the corner from the Joseph Horne Company department store. Your mother’s engagement ring came from Hazel’s as did mine. We both picked them out and bought them independent from our intended. But back to the 16th birthday ring, mine was gold with a small round center diamond and a diamond chip at angles on either side. It now keeps company with the sandbox ring on the gold necklace along with a signet ring that was the bridesmaid’s gift from Aunt Janice’s first wedding.
- What is your favorite gemstone and why?
That’s easy…diamonds…a girl’s best friend and my birthstone.
- Tell me about a piece a relative wore when you were growing up – why is it memorable?
That would have to be Mother’s sapphire and diamond cocktail ring. It came from Italy and she didn’t wear it very often which may have been part of its mystique. It was originally set in platinum and the sapphire was set low surrounded by multiple rings of diamonds. At some point she had it reset in white gold, raising the setting of the sapphire to better highlight it and circling it with only two rings of diamonds. I have to admit that I liked the original setting. From the leftover diamonds along with some other pieces, Mother had the diamond pendant made that you wore for your wedding. I think the idea was to have a third piece for the three sisters. There was Mother’s diamond ring which went to your mother. I got the sapphire ring and Aunt Janice got the pendant. Now how that came to be is a story. I can remember sitting around the kitchen table at dinner talking about who was going to get what when people died. I was still pretty young but not so young that I didn’t notice sparkly jewelry and that I liked it. Of course I started in my sandbox days so I was experienced early on. Anyway, the logic went that your mother and I should get the rings because we had prettier hands and Janice had short stubby Specht fingers. Looking back, that is just plain mean, but then this is the family that labeled the sisters Creative…Janice, Beautiful…your mother, and Smart…me. When you have braces and glasses and your big sister is beautiful and both sisters are really equally as smart, smart is the booby prize, like having stubby fingers. I digress, your mother wanted the big diamond, I wanted the sapphire and that is what happened. Janice got the pendant. I guess her neck and décolletage were acceptable. Talk about family baggage!
- What is your current favorite piece and why?
My current favorite piece, always subject to change, is a really fun necklace I got at FAB (Fabulous Arts Boutique) this year. I knew I wanted a funky necklace and had a couple options but this one really spoke to me because of its fashion theme and I love fashion. It is about the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. It is a charm necklace and there are multiple charms with pictures of him including a naughty nude and on the other sides are pictures of fashion models, also Paris themed charms and pretty beads and sparkles. It culminates in a vintage Yves Saint Laurent perfume bottle. Very cool.
This was actually really fun to put together and reminisce over. And yes their rationale over who should get what when my grandmother passed away makes total sense. I keep asking my mom for that diamond ring. The answer is always, a very firm, NO. Wearing the diamond pendant for my wedding was really a last minute decision! I am pretty sure I wore my Aunt Janice’s diamond earrings, too. Hard to believe I was NOT prepared with wedding jewelry! My dad was in Viet Nam when he asked his mother to send my mom money so she could buy her own engagement ring. Talk about getting exactly what you want!
I hope you enjoyed this little walk down memory lane with the Specht Family Jewels – hahaha! Where does your jewelry inspo come from?
Stay golden, like the sand in a sandbox!
Mary Green #goldbygreen