As this year draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the roller coaster that was 2020. So much changed, literally overnight, and the future is still so uncertain. In thinking back on my jewelry acquisitions from the past year, I realized that they pretty accurately reflect the mental state and life events I was experiencing at the time of purchase. Revisiting each quarter in turn:
Q1: We were so naive.
As of January / February 2020, we heard rumblings of the “novel coronavirus” sweeping through Wuhan, but we convinced ourselves that it would never hit the U.S., and that even if it did, it would be gone in just a few weeks. In other words, we were idiots. I distinctly remember joking with my colleagues about how we were going to start selling black-market hand sanitizer, and I’m embarrassed to admit now that I harshly judged people who got on the crowded morning train wearing masks, which, at the time, seemed unnecessarily performative. Little did I know that just a few weeks later, my paradigm would completely flip flop, such that anyone not wearing a mask became a pariah.
In those early, blissfully ignorant days of 2020, I bought this magnificent, Georgian-inspired, pear-shaped pendant on a gold swivel dog clip from jewelry designer Shan Adams:
It is razzle dazzle to the max. It shimmers, it shines, it screams “glam.” It is completely incompatible with the sweats, messy buns, and makeup-free looks I would soon be rocking for the foreseeable future. It is a reflection of the optimism I still held onto at the start of 2020, naively believing I would be attending cocktail parties, weddings, or really any social events at all, in the coming months. It is the embodiment of delusion about what was to come.
Q2: Sh*t hit the fan.
Late March through June was, as you are so painfully aware, a time of lock-downs, fear, rising Covid numbers, suffering, social unrest, police brutality, and disillusionment with just about everything. Days felt like weeks, and the news was a never-ending source of fresh anxiety. It was a rough go, to say the least. (In no way do I intend to trivialize any of this by pivoting to talking about jewelry. However, this is a jewelry blog, so true to form, I will now take a frivolous turn.)
During those months when it was hard to see a way out of all the despair in this country, I drowned my sorrows in hours of scrolling through photos of beautiful things online. Jewelry, of course, but also travel destinations, fashion editorials, gourmet recipes, even makeup tutorials. I often landed on Etsy, which seems to be a truly bottomless source of treats for the eye.
It was on Etsy that I found this green onyx and gold necklace, made by Irish designer Jane Asple under her brand EMMABYJANE:
The necklace shipped right away, but I realized after a few weeks had passed that I hadn’t received it yet. I checked the Royal Mail tracking number, and it showed that the necklace was still sitting at Heathrow Airport in London. More weeks went by, but no movement. Finally, nearly two months after it shipped, the necklace arrived at my door unexpectedly one day. I later learned that the U.S. had closed its borders to parcels from other countries for a while. A true pandemic purchase experience.
Q3: The calm before the storm.
When the summer months arrived, things started to look up. Covid numbers seemed to stabilize, the weather was beautiful, small social gatherings could be held safely outside, and my own optimism was at its peak for the year. I bought this beautiful and cheery butterfly necklace by designer Joy Dravecky in August (my exact necklace now sold out; similar option available here). It captures that sense of hope that came with my brief taste of “normalcy” this summer:
Q4: Winter is coming.
The experts were right: the massive fall / winter Covid surge is upon us. We knew the summer lull couldn’t last, and yet it seems we are ill-equipped to deal with the long, dark, indoor months ahead. Thank heavens for the arrival of the vaccine! Seeing videos of healthcare workers receiving their shots brings me joy like nothing else. I am also deeply relieved to know that January 20, 2021 will mark the end of a very dark time in U.S. history. Things admittedly aren’t good right now, but there is promising light on the horizon.
For my October birthday, I requested and received from my mom this beautiful Jane Win pendant that says “GARDEZ BIEN” (meaning “KEEP WELL” in French) with a snake motif on one side and “PROTECT” on the other:
I’m fairly superstitious, so I like to wear this necklace as an amulet to offer me a little extra protection as I make my way through this uncertain world. To dress it down for my leisure-wear lifestyle, I put the pendant on a blackened silver chain rather than something shinier. It adds just the right amount of pizzaz to my décolletage for virtual calls.
Looking back years from now, 2020 will probably feel like a bad dream–a very long, surreal dream. One thing’s for sure: we won’t soon forget any of it.