Throughout history there have been pieces of jewellery with stories attached to them - special memories, symbols of status or daring thefts. Jewellery has been around for thousands of years and has often been able to give us an insight into how different ancient cultures worked. It can consist of anything from metal and gemstones to shells or wood.
Like many people, I have a piece of jewellery that is extra special to me and has an interesting story attached to it. So here's the story about the theft (and loss) of some leaves and how I inherited this pretty necklace from my Granny.
When I was very little (I must have been around 5 or 6) I was in the car with my Granny, driving home from somewhere - probably from school - when my Granny suddenly pulled over and parked the car. On the pavement outside of someones house there was the most beautiful tree covered in bright yellow leaves! My Granny said she thought we should pick some of the leaves and then press them when we got home. I can remember thinking that we might get into trouble for stealing these leaves, because whoever owned this tree must love these gorgeous yellow leaves so much and would be very unhappy if some went missing!
No one came out of the house yelling, so we made off with our loot of bright yellow leaves and when we got back to my Grandparents' house we stuck them in-between some tissue paper and inside an old telephone book. Unfortunately we didn't think to mark the page where the precious leaves were - or even which phone book they were in - my Granny kept a lot of stuff, so there were a few old phone books! So we sadly lost our leaves, neither of us being able to remember where they were.
Years and years later when I was visiting my Grandparents my Granny very excitedly said she had come across our leaves! They were well and truly pressed by then and weren't quite as bright yellow anymore, but they were still just as beautiful! We were so happy we had found our treasure again. I don't remember what we ended up doing with the leaves, but I do remember they brought us a lot of joy.
Sadly, both of my Grandparents passed away last year. My Granny left all the women in the family a piece of her precious and more valuable jewellery. I was so grateful to receive a pair of Tanzanite stud earrings and an Amethyst pendant - my Granny knew that my favourite colours to wear are blues and purples. She also had a fair amount of less valuable and more plain silver jewellery which she didn't specify who it should go to. I saw the necklace with the Gingko Biloba pendant and thought I would really like that because of the memory I had of our leaf-stealing-escapade, but I didn't feel comfortable asking for it as I was sure someone else would want it too.
The dealing out of that jewellery was left until a few a months later when my mom and her 3 sisters packed up my Grandparents cottage in Benoni. When my mom came back home to Durban with the treasures she had from her parents, she gave me a little bag and said she had picked some of my Granny's jewellery that she thought I might like to have. Inside the bag was the Ginkgo Biloba necklace!!! I had never told my mom the story about our leaf-pilfering adventure and she had not known how much I wanted the necklace!
I later learned that the tree is called a "Ginkgo Biloba" or "Maiden Hair" Tree and is actually not that common in South Africa as it is native to China. I have never seen another one in South Africa, but on our recent trip overseas earlier this year, we found a few in Italy at the beautiful Isola Madre gardens on Lake Maggiore. They didn't have the bright yellow leaves as they only turn that colour in Autumn and we were there in Spring, but they are still very beautiful.