"Don't ever wear artistic jewelry; it wrecks a woman's reputation," French novelist Sidonie Gabrielle Colette once wrote. But if she could see the necklace I recently purchased, I am pretty sure she'd be willing to further compromise her tainted reputation.
I was sipping coffee on a Saturday morning when a strand of twinkling sapphire-like beads whispered my name from across the room. Stretched on a display table, the necklace was striking, but in that instant, what multiplied its beauty was the fact that its creator was standing next to it. I didn't just want a piece of jewelry. I wanted the story and the passion behind it.
Lindsay Hawk has been collecting beads for 40 years and created thousands of necklaces, hundreds of pairs of earrings, and dozens of bracelets.
On this day, she was hosting a jewelry show at The Coffee Trade, one of the Avon businesses that features her work.
I had an avalanche of excuses as to why I shouldn't buy it: Barbie needs more clothes, payment for dance classes would be due soon, the dog treat jar was nearly empty, the cash could pay for an outing at Chuck E. Cheese's and did I really need another necklace in a bad economy?
Such inner conflict is probably familiar to many parents. Putting ourselves first no longer comes naturally when making purchases, but occasionally, we still need those special splurges that remind us of who we are, removed from our parenting or spousal responsibilities.
The more I listened to Lindsay, the more her work captivated me. She conveyed her love for art, history, and nature, and spoke of the beads that came from Africa, and those crafted in Czechoslovakia.
I learned that vintage buttons excite her, such as the brass one that she coupled with strands of garnet glass seeds and created a necklace named "Eye of the Dragon."
"It's a labor of love," she said. "It takes days to decide on a design. Up to 12 hours to assemble a multi-string necklace, and one single bead that is solid and intricately carved can take up to an hour to get on a string because the hole passing through it is narrow and warped."
I reached once more for the necklace and felt its weight in my hand. The last doubt was erased by a tiny voice, "Mommy, that's really pretty. You should get it because you love blue."
And just like that, I purchased something that had not been mass produced and shipped from far away. I now own an item created in my community, and a story that will likely be shared each time the necklace graces my neck.
And one day, it will probably become part of my daughter's jewelry collection; and that's more lasting than a few new dresses for Barbie.
To view Lindsay's creations or read her blog, visit www.alienbeadings.com.