Don’t Be Emo!

April 5, 2010

People always ask me what I do for a living and after I tell them what I ‘do’, I assault them with my jewellery history. This, in turn, makes them shuffle awkwardly in their seat, cough, look around, eventually realised they’re pinned and their eyes glaze over, where they no doubt go to a land with food, alcohol and nude members of the opposite sex. After two hours of assailing someone with my passions and falling out of the trance, I look down at the unwitting corpse-like vegetable below and wonder ‘what put them off?’

Well, usually, the thing that first puts them off is ‘yes, I have many examples of human hair’, from there, they expect me to be rolled out in a full-face covering mask and talk about fava beans and Chianti. What people don’t understand is that their great-grandparents lived within this marvellous paradigm of mourning society, where people would spend their last penny on a decent burial to save face for their family. Where their great-grandmothers wore black to represent the virtue of the family in perpetual mourning! Now, however, I feel it is my duty to at least demystify a lot of these fears and modern concepts of what is morbid and rather disgusting to some.

A lot of the culture that has appropriated death since the late 1970s has bore down quite a negative influence on collecting memorial jewellery and a lot of people think of it immediately as ‘goth’. So much for historical, cultural or even ethnographic. The truth to the matter is that this is based upon love. Love for collecting, love for art, love for history, love for our past. This is the most magnificent act of love that someone could bestow upon another – the act of wearing a little bit of them around your neck, in a picture, in a ring. This is a beautiful thing and something to be relished.

Unfortunately, morning jewels are borne upon the concept of death, be it modern or historical. Having spent much time with many jewellers, I’ve seen the concept of a father, mother, brother, sister, wife or husband come in to a shop and purchase/have created a piece with the intent of that holding a loved one’s hair and this is only in the past 10 years!

Yes, the primary basis for what we collect still resonates as a very real thing for many people, these jewels did hold the lives of the person who they were dedicated to (primarily for the person who wore them) and that validates the beauty of them all the more.

People ask me why do I have so much and why don’t I wear it all? I’m the caretaker of these things, they belong to the person who they were dedicated to / who commissioned them. I’m just a link in a chain and I hope they live on for hundreds of years to come.

One Response to “Don’t Be Emo!”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Beautifully said, Hayden. Brings a little tear to my eye!

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