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MERYSA NICHOLS

ARTIST

Modern Mourning Jewelry

Mourning ring (Left) and Quartz Chalcedony ring (right)

Good friends of mine recently and suddenly lost their wonderful friend and family member, a cool Samoyed dog. They reached out to ask for something they could wear to remember him.

I knew I didn’t want to do anything corny that they (and I) would cringe over in a year, after the first wave of sadness had transformed into something more bearable. I thought about this project for several months. I researched mourning jewelry from the 18th and 19th centuries. My skill set can be limited in jewelry and my ideas always exceed my capabilities. I ran into many walls on this project. I filled sketch book pages for months and cast out most of my initial ideas. Finally, I landed on a sleek minimalist locket and an updated men’s mourning ring. I didn’t know how to do either.

Back of mourning ring showing the dates.

My first attempt at the men’s ring ended with me melting the silver on one side! This is when I wished I could hit command+z on a keyboard…I started over and had no idea really how to do the letters and dates. I decided to make them out of hand formed wire and soldered each one onto the band. I thought about the men I know and what they would most likely wear, if anything, besides their wedding rings. I wanted subtlety and discretion.

Sterling silver locket.

For the locket, I followed a tutorial from a book by Allan Revere. I still cant believe I made it through the whole project without messing it up completely. Lastly, I have a somewhat large collection of gemstones and I found one I had forgot about that was quartz and chalcedony – it looked like the fluffy white fur of their beloved Canto. I created a simple setting and carved a “C” in the back.

Beauty can cheer us up sometimes.

My favorite part of sending out an order is wrapping it, for some reason. It feels like closure and the final touch. I use art paper from the art supply store because its beautiful and can be reused for collages or crafts. I like to think about what would make me happiest to receive in the mail and I do that.

Objects can never replace people or animals we love and death is a perfect teacher of this truth. I knew my attempt to help them feel better was dwarfed in comparison to the new void in their life but I was willing to try to create something embedded with meaning and moral support. This was one of my favorite challenges ever with jewelry.