Scrap gold, precious memories

It will be five years this November since my Mother passed away. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of her and smile. My Mom’s name is Betty and, while she may not have been a perfect Mom in the textbook sense, she was perfect for me. I won’t lie – we had more than a few struggles in our relationship but when she passed, she was like my best friend. I spoke with her almost every other day and we were very close. I loved her. I still love her.


One of my favorite photos of my Mom, seen here with Yan the Wonder Dog, a black pug that was one of her favorite “grand-dogs.”.

Even though so much time has passed since my Mom’s death, my family still has some uncompleted tasks. My younger sister and I started one this past weekend – going through shoe boxes full of my Mother’s jewelry, one woman’s lifetime accumulation of earrings and bracelets and pins and rings and watches. Shortly after my Mom’s passing, my Dad scooped all/most of Mom’s jewelry into small fabric travel cases or jewelry boxes and asked my younger sister to take it all away. Maybe it was too much for my Dad to see it on Mom’s vanity; maybe he really just didn’t know what to do with it. Anyway, all these months and years later, my sister, my sister-in-law and I sat down and started to go through the boxes…


It was an interesting emotional journey to review and re-experience my Mom’s life by holding all these things she had loved. We found her school class ring from Everett High School, Class of 1956. Another box held what seemed like dozens of heavy serpentine necklaces, some silver but most gold, from what we children fondly term my Mom’s “Mr. T Period.” Another box yielded a carved, painted wooden flower pin, a piece of jewelry that probably cost $3.00 or less, yet my Mom loved it as much as diamonds. I found a pendant I had designed for her, crafted with stones taken from a ring I had purchased impulsively for myself in my youth. Here was the tiny Italian Horn I had given her, after wearing it for a few years myself (I was younger then, and it was “disco”). I didn’t find the two bracelets she is wearing in the photo above, bracelets I had given her for a birthday and one Christmas. And one ring is still AWOL, but I think it may still be at my Dad’s house, somewhere with the missing bracelets.

All these memories, all these objects were like beautiful, shining pieces of my Mom. I looked at each piece over and over, remembering when and where should had worn them, and smiling. My Mom did that for me – she may have “busted my chops” on a regular basis but she always made me smile…

So, the day before I arrived at my sister’s house, she and her partner had taken a few “good pieces” from Mom’s treasure chest to a place in Columbus that purchases estate jewelry, just to get an idea of the value of my Mother’s things. Among those items was a beautiful blue topaz ring, with a large emerald-cut stone in a four-prong white gold setting. I’m guessing the stone is at least “double-digits” in the carats department (the stone alone is twice as big as my thumbnail). That ring always held a place of honor on Mom’s vanity, housed in its own, special “Somebody-Jewelers-Knoxville-Tennessee” box. The ring sat there where she could see it, I imagine as a reminder to my Mom of her success in achieving a goal, or maybe as a reminder that she was glamorous and beautiful. My Mom told stories about how she had gone without lunch for a few months when she got her first job, just so she could buy that ring. Even as a little boy, I knew that ring was worth millions…

It’s hard to relate the disappointment and disillusionment I felt when the estate buyer told my sister that the ring would probably retail for less than $200.00. He explained to my sister that the stone was beautiful and near-perfect but not a sought-after stone. In fact, he said the “scrap gold” had more value than the actual gemstone.

Scrap gold. The elegant, beautiful ring that had come to symbolize my Mom was scrap gold.

I am well aware of the mark-up in jewelry so I was not too surprised that the ring wasn’t worth “millions’ – in fact, I could actually care less what each piece is worth. I am, however, thankful for having gone through the appraisal process as it has taught me the real value of my Mother’s things. Without much discussion, the group decided to keep our Mom’s collection intact for now, a tangled mess of (mostly) costume necklaces, watches and bracelets. The thing is, each piece sparkles in its own way, just like my Mom did.

Often, the real value of an item is not in dollars but in memories and emotions…

6 responses to “Scrap gold, precious memories

  1. Love this, Tim. Lately, I have been helping Dad go through some things of Mom’s, so this article really touched me today.

    • I’m glad you liked the post, cuz, and I know these past few months have been hard on you and your family. Hang in there and let me know if I can help in any way. Thanks for reading! HUGS!

  2. I love this. It is so true. She was one special person.(as I have said many times before).She let you know where you stood with her and then give you a hug.. I loved seeing her in her jewelry, real or costume..The memories you have with that jewelry and your mom is a good thing..

  3. Oh Honey. I love this. Such beautiful words, to express such beautiful memories. I love you darling. No dollar amount is worth the trade for the love.

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