Memory Road is Paved in Gold

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July 23, 2014

Setting the gold standard using, you guessed it, gold!

I get what Robert Frost meant when he wrote “Nothing Gold Can Stay” but in my ripe 25 years, I have found that the only things to have stayed are quite literally, possessions that are made from gold.

Take, for example, the gold coin, attached by a chain that I wear around my neck. I once complimented my grandmother on it and she took it off right there to give to me. Enterprising 17 year old that I was, I followed the compliment with one on her shoes and two on the earrings hanging from her lobes but these compliments were to no avail.

Now every time she sees me wearing the necklace, she reminds me that it is older than our ages combined. A gift from her grandmother and originally from Byzantine Turkey, the coin represents a highly personal history that is now being preserved through a physical totem.

It is when I consider the larger history of the element, dating back as far as 2500 BC in ancient Mesopotamia, traveling through India and Greece and Russia, and even into American popular culture by way of the hip hop artists who galvanized gold chains worn around their necks (Run DMC) or as enormous clocks (I still think about you daily, Flava Flav) and subsequently, too, as grills (marriage proposal still on the table, Kanye), that I realize how prevalent the material continues to be and have to ask, again: what in the good name of precious metal are you talking about, Frost?

Me, personally, I can’t wait to start passing down the gilded talismans I have started to gather — it makes collecting them sweeter.

There’s the gold Kale necklace I got on Tuesday, incidentally also the day that I found out the rash on my stomach is poison ivy. I can now see myself pulling it off my neck at 55 to give to my daughter as motivation to contract her own Toxicodendron radicans. (I will also tell her Wikipedia taught me that phrase.)

I will give that yellow gold horoscope necklace to someone who has lost faith in the Sagittarian race, just as a reminder that we are a very generous people. I might give that spider ring, set on rose gold and accompanied by a monkey that resides on my pinky to someone who enjoys breaking apart, then reconfiguring, compound words as much as I do.

To be clear, I understand that in the context of Frost’s poem, gold is a simile for the ephemeral nature of, uh, nature. But isn’t there something to be said about golden memories, where they are deposited and how far and long they live on? I like to think of the mind as a safety box. One that comes with a golden lock and if you’re very lucky, a chain to wear it.

Or whatever. Now, it’s you time. Please share photos of the heirlooms you’ve either acquired or plan to dole out and the memories you’ll tether to them.

Vintage gold coin and chain, additional necklaces and all rings by Khai Khai jewelry and bracelets by Jennifer Fisher. Part of a collaboration with LoveGold.

  • Anita

    really amazing post! xx Anita
    http://vanillaelephant.blogspot.de/

    • http://blogaboutdesign.com/ B.A.D l Blog About Design

      What a great post! I love the jewelry.

      Check out the B.A.D blog… blogaboutdesign.com

  • http://c-estclairette.blogspot.com/ Clairette

    Love this! The most precious piece I own is a gold necklace with my name written in Arabic which I got in Beirut last year. Wouldn’t that be something for you Leandra, with your Middle Eastern roots? (Leandra in Arabic: لياندرا )

  • http://adeliberateimagination.wordpress.com/ CJKEYS2

    When you turn 55 can I be your daughter? Thanks in advance for all that gold, ma! My grandma recently passed away so I have her gold necklace that has the birthstones of 5 children in it, and she had this really pretty gold/amethyst ring I’ve had my eye on. I don’t know who that will go to. My other grandmother a few years ago gave me a gold horseshoe shaped ring and a tiny ruby on a long gold chain. I still wear my First Communion gifts almost every day. I got my girl, Mary, around my neck.

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother, girl. For lack of better word: it sucks to lose a Grandma. They are kind of the glue and kinetic energy that holds several generations together.

      She’ll always be there for ya though, in heart and mind and genetics. And in days it seems like it’s hard to satisfy your missing her on thoughts alone, you can wear her jewelry and have a somewhat physical part of her. X

      • http://adeliberateimagination.wordpress.com/ CJKEYS2

        Emma, you are the sweetest. <3

  • Olivia

    Great content!!! ;)

    Olivia – http://www.uptodatefashion.eu

  • http://www.injackiesshoes.com/ Alexandra

    Speaking of gold, I am curious about why you don’t wear your wedding ring? Is it an aesthetic choice or symbolic? Or perhaps just happenstance? Does it clash with your Kale?

    • Leandra Medine

      i typically do wear my band, sometimes i take it off because i dont like how it looks with my other rings and then i forget to put it back on

  • http://www.janaleemiller.com/ Jana @ 333 Days of…..

    I have a pendant from my grandmother that is a butterfly wing with glass laid over it with a painting. The peak through wing is the girls dress!

  • http://www.ashliwithaneye.com Ashli Pollard

    i found this gold mesh collar at my moms and wore it out to a party in college. when my mom saw a picture on facebook, she called me explaining it had gone through our family from my great great grandmother – needless to say, i wear it very sporadically now. but it’s so beautiful i’m trying to bust it out more often

    • Leandra Medine

      That thing is beautiful.

  • http://blushingtheory.blogspot.com/ Nicole Rivera

    You are such an inspiring writer! This post in particular threw me over the edge–kale to the queen! No gold pieces from my mom, but she does have a beautiful diamond necklace that she’s earmarked for me. I’ve tried to complement her on it as well but haven’t had much luck getting her to let it go quite yet!

  • http://breachofbeauty.blogspot.com Sarah Elise

    This beaut from my momma will be going to my future children even if they are a boy/girl who doesn’t wear skirts. THEY GON WEAR THIS ONE because it has two different patterns and it’s from India and it’s way cool & comfy

    • Leandra Medine

      Can i borrow it!

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Gorgeous! My mother has several of those, too, in all sorts of colors. She pairs with clogs for a good time.

  • Amelia Diamond

    These 2 gold bracelets are from my grandma and I wear them almost every day. She once told me that you can tell gold is real or good quality by biting on it and seeing if it leaves teeth marks so…these have a lot of my teeth marks in them.

    • http://adeliberateimagination.wordpress.com/ CJKEYS2

      your hair is awweeeeesummmm.

      • Amelia Diamond

        you can have it!

  • Molly

    Where are your overalls from?

    • Leandra Medine

      They are Stella McCartney from 2009, located on Yoox in 2011 and recently, too, on a consignment site caleld Vent Privee

  • Maria

    I like this post and can’t wait to pass down my real gold jewelery. While it took sometime to learn this I would much prefer buying one or two real gold pieces than gold plated jewelry

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    I only like silver and this is not stuff heirlooms are made of, but … I got a most beautiful (40.) B-day present from my husband: we were making things from silver (our joint hobby) and in the end, I got a Kindle clasp I had actually seen in making … I was/I am very happy with it and do not intend to pass it on, give it away or lose/destroy it. No way. :-)

  • http://shorttermstyle.wordpress.com Jenna Calderone

    My great grandma Rosa, matriarch of our enormous Italian family, passed away this past Christmas. I took some of the flowers from the arrangement placed on her casket (roses, of course) and had them made into pressed beads linked together by a gold chain. The beads are a faint pink, with the imperfections of the petals still visible. It’s really gorgeous & special to me, and I can’t wait to pass it on!

  • maíra

    Leandra, you should come to Brazil to launch your book in portuguese! I already have mine!

  • andrea raymer

    I have a few meaningful pieces. My favorite item of jewelry I have is a necklace that was my grandmother’s. She died about 5 years ago and the week of her funeral all the women in my family sat together and when through her jewelry box. My Name starts with an “A” as does my mother’s and my grandmother and great grandmother before that. So, naturally, there was a lot of “A” jewelry. My mother has a round, gold locket of her’s and i have a silver pendant with an “A” surrounded by tiny flowers. She was also a bit of a hoarder, so she had jewelry with everyone else’s initials as well.

    Some of my other favorite things are all my jewelry that identifies me as a Navy kid. Nearly every navy daughter or wife I know has a Hieroglyph necklace, a Venitian glass pendant, some sort of cameo jewelry from Naples and a wood jewelry box from Sorrento. These are all close to places that Navy ships would pull into port. For a while everyone had necklaces with their names in arabic, but that trend died out on navy bases shortly after 9/11.

  • http://instagram.com/quincykk Quincy

    I lost all my grandparents by a pretty young age (around 10), so I feel like I never really got to build a super strong relationship with any of them. However, the one thing that keeps me feeling connected to my grandmas is the jewelry that I inherited from them. One set of grandparents in particular was a pretty eccentric bunch that lived in Dubai for a while and collected jewelry from all over Asia. Some of the pieces this grandma had were pretty cray, including a 500 carat topaz necklace that sits in the back of my mom’s closet (to my dismay, she has not once worn it). These are three of my favorite necklaces that I chose after she passed. I probably wear one or a mixture of the three at least once a week and when I do, I feel like someone is lookin down on me and smiling.

    • Guest
      • Amelia Diamond

        gorgeous

  • http://dolceandgabriella.wordpress.com Gigi Gastevich

    I have my great-grandmother’s charm bracelet, which she assembled in the thirties and forties. Not only is it beautiful and lovingly preserved by three generations before me–there’s a little compact charm with a tiny powder puff inside, a baby carriage with wheels that spin–each charm also has a significant meaning for my family (the baby carriage, for instance, is from when my grandmother was born.) I treasure it and can’t wait to give it to my daughter someday.

    Love, Gigi
    Dolce and Gabriella

  • lavieenliz

    I love gold!!! great overalls btw

    http://hashtagliz.com

  • http://mayashawcollection.tumblr.com/ Maya

    Sophomore year of high school I was helping my Grandmother clean and re-organize her closet and she paid me with a vintage Gucci handbag. She still buys items and says things like “When I die you will get this bag/ ring/ necklace…” always awkward and a thought I don’t want to think about. Also, I got a lot of hate at school for wearing it everyday but, its all gucci.

  • http://www.dominiquecandido.com Dominique
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  • donn

    great blog, nice content
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  • http://www.barefacedmessyhair.com Bare Faced Messy Hair

    So true, I have a gold pendant made from my grandma’s wedding band. She had 14 children and was a sturdy woman :) needless to say he finger was so much bigger than mine, made also from 24 carrot gold to soft for nowadays washing up!! So i made it into a gold coin which lives around my neck and will be with me forever. I’m so lucky!!

    http://www.barefacedmessyhair.com

  • Amber Nefertari

    Gold is a big thing in my culture. I’m Caribbean-American so pretty much every girl has been gifted with gold earrings, bangles, necklaces, and rings as a child. I lost many of my pieces which were given to me by family and some purchased on my own in high school but I started collecting again when I turned 23. My favorites are a name ring, a delicate anklet, two pendants in the shape of my parents’ countries, a pair of dangling earrings in the shape of my parents’ countries (many women in my community wear these), and a few nameplates in different fonts. I’m in the market from a solid gold bangle from Trinidad right now. I am a jewelry hoarder!

    http://www.beautyandthestreetmag.blogspot.com

  • KAURA JEWELS

    great topic, yes, my mom has started to hand down gold. once she skipped me and passed her gold earrings to my daughter (she was 2 years old at that time)!

  • http://www.deleuse.com jdeleuse

    I’ve been hooked on old gold coins for designing with! I once made a bracelet with really old Roman coins–I currently created a coin pendant with the most artistic coin from Nepal, circa 1700’s, I surrounded it with turquoise beads, reversible so you can show off both sides! Janet Deleuse
    deleuse.com