Heirloom jewelry can contain more than its inherent value. It can perpetuate memories and give a sense of belonging and connectedness. My sister and I have matching rings that were special gifts from our mother one Christmas. These rings connect us with each other, as well as with other women who came before us.
William J. Hatley, and Emma Ingram grew up only a few miles from each other in a rural area of south Arkansas where William sold insurance and went to every baseball game he could. After they married, they moved to Stephens, Arkansas, where they bought a restaurant, and later a dry cleaners. It didn’t take long before the town and surrounding communities came to eat his homemade pies piled high with stiff meringue. These were my great-grandparents.
Beginning in the 1920s, there was an oil boom in south Arkansas, and sometime after that they had the fortune of having oil discovered on their property.
In the 1940s, while at one of the many auction houses in Hot Springs, Arkansas, William bought a beautiful diamond ring for his beloved wife, Emma, which had two 1-carat diamonds in a white gold setting.
Throughout her childhood, my mother admired the ring that always adorned her grandmother’s hand. When “Mom Hat” passed away, my mother’s mother gave it to her saying, “Mom Hat wanted you to have it”.
That was in 1974 and my mother had worn the ring daily ever since. Just as her memories of her grandmother included that ring, my memories of my mother also included it. My mother’s hands were always busy serving her family and others, and any observation of them would have included that ring.
In 2016, my mother decided that she was ready to share her heirloom with her daughters, but there were two of us and only one ring. She had the idea of having a jeweler make two rings that looked like the original with one of the original diamonds put into each of them. She then had the jeweler put two cubic zirconia into her original setting to replace them. So my mother has the original ring with two cubic zirconia in it, while my sister and I each have a replica setting with one of the original diamonds.
Soon afterward my sister put her treasured ring in a “safe place.” Well, you know what happens to those safe places! Yep, she forgot where she put it and couldn’t find it. Luckily, she later came across it and while gathered at a family memorial service, we were able to take a picture with all three of our hands and rings.
My sister had the lovely thought to have the photo enlarged and framed as a gift for our mother. It’s a treasure now, too.
Later, while visiting my parents, I was gazing at that picture and commented that it would be nice to write about the rings on my blog. The expression on my mother’s face told me that she liked the idea, so I asked her to recount the ring’s history.
She became emotional as she recalled the details, making me even more aware of how much the ring meant to her. She confessed that she had cried when her mother passed it on to her and again when she handed it over to the jeweler to have the copies made. It’s so meaningful to have a treasure that has been in my mother’s family for four generations. I hope to pass it down to my own daughter one day so that she, too, can enjoy this heirloom ring that binds together many generations of women in our family.