My family ‘heirlooms’ are mostly jewellery. I have my nana Margaret’s signet ring and the wedding ring of her sister, my Auntie Mary. I also have a beautiful silver locket and a gold crucifix that belonged to my nana as well. I wear all of these pieces quite regularly, and take pride in their heritage when I do so. My mum also has her mum’s wedding ring, which is a beautiful heavy, chunky piece of gold. It was engraved with moons and stars, but these have all but worn away now. I hope to have it re-engraved or even re-made into my own wedding ring when I get married.
Another heirloom I have is a necklace that belonged to my mum’s father’s first wife, Doris. It’s only costume jewellery, thirties or forties I think, but it’s beautiful and still in wonderful condition. I wear it a lot. They didn’t have any children, and so I think it’s rather nice that her jewellery has passed into her husband’s second family and lives on as a memory of her. I know very little about her or their marriage.
Generally speaking my mum is not a hoarder, and neither am I. It can be rather frustrating though. I love fashion, and so often I see a picture of some dress or shoes or bag I like, only for my mum to say that she, or her mum, once had one just like it. I despair that she didn’t keep any of it! I did receive as a present a couple of years ago a square silk scarf that my mum found in a vintage clothing shop that she said was just like on her mum had. It’s beautiful, and sort of feels like an heirloom even though it isn’t really.
One of my favourite heirlooms came as part of a Christmas gift this year. I’ve recently taken up sewing (badly, so far!) and I saw a gorgeous vintage-style sewing basket that I asked my mum to buy for me. It came filled with all sorts of sewing goodies, but the best bits were the hand-me-downs – a thimble that had belonged to my Auntie Mary, a darning ‘mushroom’ that was my nana’s, and from my mum’s own sewing kit, Wonderweb!