Before we went to Italy I photographed all the jewelry I’d really miss if it were stolen. Some of the pieces have street value, but most of them are keepsakes and their associations are what make them valuable. My childhood charm bracelet with the teeny orange crate. Mom’s matching sweater pins with the blue, rose and yellow rhinestones. A cameo necklace from my grandmother. Rings from my sister and my sons.
I felt paranoid and silly, but took the photos anyhow. Two friends have had jewelry stolen while they were away from home. Because they didn’t have photos, their insurance companies couldn’t value the items and the police couldn’t identify the jewelry if they found the stolen property.
If my jewelry were stolen would I be comforted to get it back? Probably not. The simple joy in wearing the earrings, rings, and bracelets is that they’re pretty and I like thinking of the people who gave them to me. If they were returned to me after a theft, that event would distort my feelings about the pieces.
My impulse to treasure keepsakes is misplaced. Regardless of whether or not I possess the jewelry, I will have the memories of the occasions and the people who gave them to me.
What I really want is to protect what is irreplaceable. If only the police could show up at my door and return all of the people I lost last year: Mom, Aunt Corinne, Uncle Jim, and Uncle Rocky.
I am rich in memories but still making payments on how to accept impermanence and loss.