Smile for the Camera: Great-Grandma’s Pearls

Two sisters and a daughter-in-law on a warm summer’s day. Bess, on the left, never married, but you can see a brooch at the top of her dress. Pauline, my grandmother, sports her wedding ring. Nellie, Bess’ sister and Pauline’s mother-in-law, shows her wedding ring, watch, and three strands of pearls. Mom and I think this was taken in the back yard of Nellie’s house.

Here are the pearls on display again, in the formal portrait taken for her 50th wedding anniversary in 1955:
Nellie McKinney on her 50th wedding anniversary

Going through Grandma’s jewelry box was eternally attractive to a magpie child. Along with the big bright costume jewelry and the beautiful rings, were these pearls. They had an intricate silver box clasp. I remember handling the necklace and wearing it, even, but I don’t have the pearls now, haven’t for years. I hope my mother managed to rescue them from the chaos of my college years, but I haven’t had the nerve to ask. They may be gone forever. (I took better care of the is-it-aquamarine-or-is-it-blue-topaz ring my mother handed down to me from Grandma; the stone, whatever it is, is too soft to take daily wear, but I know where it is.)

Written for the 16th edition of Smile for the Camera! carnival.

The word prompt for the 16th Edition of Smile For The Camera is “Bling, ancestor Bling.” I am always drawn to the beautiful jewelry worn by our ancestors in old photographs. The locket that was your Great Grandmother’s treasure, the pocket watch proudly displayed by a male ancestor, the beautiful crosses of old, and the children with their tiny bracelets. While not many of our ancestors were wealthy enough to own multiple pieces of jewelry, there was the one good piece that held sentimental value. Some of us have been fortunate enough to inherit those treasures. Show us a photograph of your ancestor wearing their “Bling,” or photographs of the pieces you have inherited. Admission is free with every photograph!

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