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Requiem: Memorializing loved ones with jewellery

By Llyn L. Strelau

This antique gold memorial brooch features a nine-karat gold circular form centring a window containing a lock of hair. The piece is surrounded by seed pearls and black enamel reading 'In memory of.' Another window compartment is on the reverse.
This antique gold memorial brooch features a nine-karat gold circular form centring a window containing a lock of hair. The piece is surrounded by seed pearls and black enamel reading ‘In memory of.’ Another window compartment is on the reverse.

As jewellery designers, we have the great privilege of becoming a part of our clients’ personal lives. Jewellery is all about celebration—engagements, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, graduation, new babies, marking life’s achievements and milestones, or simply celebrating ‘just because.’ Working with a client to create a special and personal piece is one of the most satisfying aspects of our career.

While jewellery is clearly a way to mark a happy occasion, it can also commemorate the loss of a loved one. In addition to the innate grief a person experiences, however, these sad occasions can also be times of celebration and remembrance. Being asked to help a client in this respect is an even greater privilege for a designer.

I have always felt I have done my job well when a client cries tears of joy upon picking up their new creation. Jewellery is such a personal thing—some people want to show off, while others see it is a deeply intimate expression of themselves, where they came from, or where their life will lead. When those tears are a combination of sadness over a loss and a celebration of life, they are even more poignant.

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