By Danielle Olivia Tefft
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you and your friends and family have a marvelous and safe celebration. As always, I have lots to be thankful for. If you believe that every day is a gift from God, there is always much to be thankful for, starting with the gift of each new day!
I wonder if the Pilgrims looked upon life this way. They suffered so much and endured so much to establish themselves in America. I wonder if they thought they could make it when they landed at Plymouth Rock on that frigid cold day in November of 1620. Half of them died on the journey over. I have visions of women praying as they clutched crosses against their chests. But did they wear crosses? How about jewelry in general?
The answer is no. Pilgrims believed self-adornment was ungodly. Now, there were skilled tradesmen and others who made the journey along with the Pilgrims who were not part of their faith. Undoubtedly, some of these fellow travelers wore jewelry-perhaps even devotional crosses. After all, the example and unwritten approval for wearing jewelry came right from the English throne. The King of England at the time, King James I (who was also King James VI of Scotland) always wore lavish jewels. His wife, Queen Anne of Denmark was also extremely self-indulgent when it came to jewelry and adornment.
But the pilgrims did not believe in adornment of any kind. They had a stricter admonishment against jewelry than even the Puritans. Puritan women were allowed to wear strings of pearls in their hair and other adornments on special occasions. Not Pilgrim women. The Pilgrims actually separated from the Puritans because they did not even think the Puritans followed the Bible and Christ's teachings closely enough. The only adornment a Pilgrim woman could wear was a lace collar.
In my research, I came upon two other interesting facts about Pilgrim attire. First, the grade school picture we all have of Pilgrims wearing big shiny metal buckles on their hats, belts and shoes is simply not accurate. Not only would buckles have been considered adornments, but that style of dress with buckles wasn't even fashionable when the Pilgrims came to America. Wealthy gentlemen in the later part of the 17th century wore such buckles. Poor people held up their pants and tied their shoes with string and ribbon as the Pilgrims did back in 1620.
Second, the Pilgrims wore more than just black and white clothing. Examination of wills and other documentation reveals clothing could be any number of colors. Lilac, green, red, blue and yellow clothing was commonly worn and bequeathed.
The Historic Present: Pilgrims V. Puritans; Who Landed In Plymouth? http://thehistoricpresent.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/pilgrims-v-puritans-who-landed-in-plymouth/
Todayifoundout.com: The Pilgrims Didn't Wear All Black And White Clothing With Buckled Top Hats by Daven Hiskey, http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/11/the-pilgrims-didnt-wear-all-black-and-white-clothing-with-buckled-top-hats/
I hope you enjoyed this look back in time for Thanksgiving. Let me know in the comments section and please subscribe to this blog if you enjoy jewelry and jewelry history as much as I do!
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems, jewelry and fashion. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques. Current projects include ghostwriting jewelry and fashion blogs for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her to write for you? Visit her website danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms and more information.
By Cassie Stevens
My Nanna Josie was a wonderful old woman who died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 86 last year. Before we put her in a nursing home around 7 years ago, she gave me three pieces of jewelry that were very special to her. Personally, I work for a jewelry safe company, but have never owned much jewelry, nor cared to. I guess I just never really saw significance for myself in the matter, but with stories behind each of these, owning jewelry as well as selling luxury safes for jewelry has a bit more meaning. On Christmas 2007, weeks before I started my last semester of college, she sat me down on her dusty green couch and told me a story behind each one.
The first piece was this necklace. She had gotten that from my grandfather, she said, when they were dating. They dated for 11 years before they got engaged. I don’t know why they dated so long, I asked, but Nanna Josie never gave me a straight answer. Three years into their relationship, however, my Grandfather gave her this necklace as a promise that he would some day marry her. Eight years later, he did. And she wore the necklace on her wedding day. And I will wear it on mine.
(Please forgive me for the picture quality - photographing jewelry, I have found, is very difficult)
As you can see, the stone in the middle of each rung is a turquoise gemstone. I particularly like this feature. The flower design around each one reminds me of summertime (It kind of looks like a sun to me), and the fun I used to have riding my bike to the local mom & pop store down the street with friends to buy candy and junk food. I don’t know what metal it is made out of, only that it’s been put together in such a way that there is this stone on each rung, and that’s awesome.
The next piece she gave me was this heart pin with the arrow sticking through it. The reason this was special was because she always wanted to give it to her daughter - but after her second son (my Dad), my Grandfather and her never had any more children. She found it at an old antique store in Boston MA sometime in the 50’s, but she could never remember the name of the place. She never really specified why, but she had just always wanted her daughter to have it. And since my Uncle never had any children and I am one girl among three boys in my family, I was the only option.
I have not taken this to a professional, but I’ve attempted some online research and frankly came up with nothing. I cannot find a similar piece anywhere. All I have is the piece and the story I’ve heard.
The last piece has a story that is a bit less dramatic, but still very special. Nanna Josie just found it. Laying in the street outside of her parent’s home the week before she got married, my Nanna found this bracelet. We still don’t know who it belonged to originally, but Nanna Josie decided to keep it as a memory of her life before she married my grandfather (that’s right, she stole it off the ground with no regard to anybody!). She told me to keep it and always remember that I was not always how I am now, and that I will continue to change.
See how it has the snake on it? My Nanna hated snakes. She said she would wear it and think about how she would someday not be afraid of snakes. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out and she always hated snakes. My younger brother had a pet snake and it took her months to forgive him for showing it to her.
Grandma, I love and miss you. Thank you for your gifts in these stories that I remember every time I wear a piece of the jewelry you gave me.
If anybody recognizes something on here and has some information, I’d like to know more! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When she is not working, Cassie Stevens can be found reading romance novels or horseback riding at her parent’s ranch.
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