A few weeks ago, it was my grandmother’s birthday. A day that is indelibly marked in my heart, regardless of the fact she has been gone for more than 10 years. She was known to her grandchildren and great grandchildren only as Nanny, and like most first-name-only divas (think Madonna), she was a force to be reckoned with. The perfect Jewish grandmother this non-practicing granddaughter could ever have hoped to have, she was the only person I ever allowed to smother me with love, and she influenced every last fiber of my being. So this is my ode to Nanny.
The urge to write a post in Nanny's honor came when I glanced over at my desk this morning and saw a few pieces of jewelry she had given me when I was a teenager. You see, Nanny had an obsession with jewelry, and any time she parted with a piece and gave it to me, I knew I was the luckiest kid on Earth!
Back in the day, when kids were able to fly by themselves without the worries of being kidnapped or worse, I was sent to visit my Nanny and Poppy in Miami during school vacations. Poppy showered Nanny with all the jewels she didn’t buy herself and he fancied himself a bon vivant, diamond pinky rings and all. It was during these visits, as a young jeweler in the making, that Nanny and I would talk jewelry, play with jewelry, redesign her jewelry, go to jewelry stores and just have a ball; all centered on our mutual love of JEWELRY, year after year!
Nanny wore Norell red lipstick and nail polish, had a May West style penciled-in beauty mark next to her eye, and smelled of Estee Lauder perfume mixed with 2 other fragrances to create her own scent (her words not mine). She was a card shark and a drama queen, in short, she was a character! On her fingers were humongous colored stone and diamond rings, on her ears were chubby gold tapered hoops, and her blouse held sparkling bug pins, positioned to take flight at any moment. She conjures up memories of Auntie Mame but I don't think Auntie Mame served potato blintzes and borsht with sour cream!
My love of food also comes from Nanny, as it was tradition that after we spent our days playing with jewelry, we would either eat one of Nanny’s delicious home cooked meals or go out for “the best meal in the world at one of Miami’s best restaurants!” Everything Nanny indulged in was “the best in the world,” according to her. Time spent with Nanny was magical and happy. She always smiled, always sparkled, always smelled good, her food tasted delicious and if that weren’t enough, she would scratch my back with her long red pointy fingernails until I fell asleep. Of course as I entered my ever evolving and rebellious teenage years, going from a hippie to a scowling punk rocker, she encouraged me to smile more and I made her listen to song lyrics to “understand” me better! Can you imagine Auntie Mame being forced to listen to Cat Stevens and The Sex Pistols? Poor Nanny, what a good sport she was!
The thing is, whether it was Nanny’s great taste, or Poppy’s, or most likely a combination of both, she wore timeless jewelry designs that I go back to all the time. They fill my dreams at night and fuel my imagination during the day. I compare my design ideas to those of hers from decades ago, to see if mine can withstand the test of time and fleeting trends. It's why I continuously go back to Nanny’s jewelry, in particular the earrings and ring currently on my desk, and why I'm inspired to call my forthcoming collection "Happy." Because that's what Nanny unknowingly taught me about jewelry, that it should create a collective sense of joy between the wearer and the viewer, that it should make you happy.
All my love, Jane
PS: Pictures of new "Happy" designs will be up on the blog as soon as we've got some finished samples in hand, until then, stay tuned via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (@janetaylorjewelry) for sneak peeks!