You know what it is. That perfect sunset. The song that hits your soul at just the right time and timbre. The moment when your eyes meet theirs and your heart feels like it will pop out of your chest. You know, in that moment, true beauty. These moments last for just a few seconds, but their impact can last a lifetime. These are all examples of ephemeral beauty. There is something so powerful in these moments that it changes your perception of the world, but it’s almost impossible to recreate that feeling and that intensity.
In the case of momentary beauty, the bulk of its power comes from memory. It lives inside you and its impact can’t ever be transferred to another. It will always be a situation where “you had to be there.” These memories create a constellation of power and passion that light up your mind and help you navigate the darkness that exists in all our lives. These moments are truly important, but there is another side to this “beauty” coin.
Many moments are fleeting, but there are other types of beauty that can last far longer. Architecture is art that we live inside and can bring joy, not only to those who pass by, but to generations of people who spend their lives creating a human heart for an enormous three dimensional piece of art. Literature sparks our imagination and gives us a glimpse into a world we never knew could exist. It allows us to share experiences across centuries if the stories are powerful enough to last. But, there is only one type of art that is created to last for a thousand years and still designed to be touched by and to touch each successive owner.
Jewelry is lasting beauty. It lasts beyond the moment of purchase. It lasts beyond your own life. It, occasionally, lasts beyond your entire civilization. While ephemeral beauty’s power lies in memory. Jewelry’s beauty and power lies in its history. I holds all the stories of the one who gave it to you. For better or for worse, it becomes a home for all the most powerful moments in your relationship with the one who gifted it. In some cases, it becomes a way to hold entire genealogies. The ring that was handed down for six generations holds a beauty created and compounded by the love of every successive person that poured their hope for the future into its delicate form.
The Stories of Jewelry…
There is a reason that so many stories contain some sort of magical jewelry talisman. Certainly, there are swords and shields to spare, but there are also many legends of powerful jewels. Rings that draw their power from the elements, animal totems or the one who created the token are always common. Necklaces and bracelets that protect the wearer show up throughout history and myth. In stories these pieces hold some sort of magical power, but the jewelry that you wear can seemingly rise to the same level.
Eventually, all jewelry grows past the fleeting moments of joy that it instills with each glance, and becomes a source of power for the one who wears it. There comes a time that you look at your jewelry and can draw on the strength of your brothers, the comfort of your mother, or the love of your partner. The gems and metal on your body seem to contain and radiate these feelings. This transformation can be slow and subtle or a magnificent revelation.
…And Their Power
The prime example of this shift is the wedding ring. While it doesn’t happen every time, a wedding ring can become a talisman for those who wear one. It can become not only a source of love and comfort, but a powerful shield against those who would encroach on your relationship. It can become a reminder of the wonder of your relationship and font of strength that helps you resist the temptations that life throws your way. While all of these feelings and abilities are generated by the wearer of the talisman, the jewelry that you wear can both focus and amplify those attributes by forcing certain feelings and memories to the surface. It isn’t actual magic, but it certainly feels like magic in the moment that it’s happening.
Why We Pass Jewelry On
We all try to pass along our knowledge, wisdom, and experience to those we love. Sometimes we succeed. Many times something gets lost between our understanding and theirs. But, when you pass the beauty of a piece of jewelry to the next generation, you are passing the distillation of the best of your life. They might not remember every word that you said or every lesson you tried to teach. But, the talisman that you offer them will be a reminder of your struggles, your joys, and the sacrifices that you made to create a better world for its new owner.
This ring, this necklace, this bracelet will hold a better angel that brings forth the light that you have seen your whole life, but that they may miss when they stare into the mirror. Passing along a piece of jewelry is passing along the strength you gained in this life and letting someone you love use it to make the world better. That’s why we pass jewelry on.
The true beauty of jewelry isn’t its gems or its value. The true beauty lies in its ability to change us, not just cosmetically, but fundamentally.