Memories Prompted by an Amethyst Pin

cropped amethyst pinMy maternal grandmother gave me an amethyst pin many years ago. I don’t remember exactly when, but I wore it frequently with a purple plaid dress I had in 1985, so I probably received the pin about that time.

I enjoyed wearing it with a navy or grey blazer over the plaid dress. And I wore enough purple and pink accessories with my dark suits that I could wear the amethyst with many things. Unlike the clunky gold and silver pins and necklaces so many female attorneys wore in the 1980s to make a power statement, the pin was subtle, yet dressy.

The pin looks Victorian—delicate filigree, ornate spikes, discrete size and color. The gold (not pure, though I can’t find a carat marking) appears to have been hand-shaped, because the points are not quite symmetrical, though it could have become misshapen from wear. The pin might be shinier if I had it cleaned, but I like the patina of age.

I don’t remember my grandmother ever wearing the pin, and I don’t remember how she got it. I do recall that it wasn’t hers originally. She got it from her mother, I think—the Cecelia Ryan I wrote about a few months ago. So the pin must be at least one hundred years old now.

I don’t remember why my grandmother gave the pin to me. Perhaps it was for my birthday, though I think it was one of those “Here, why don’t you take this?” moments, when she was cleaning house.

My grandmother was not a packrat, and was given to spurts of throwing things out. The family still regrets her giving away my uncle’s Lionel electric train. She never had junk drawers in her kitchen, nor clothing she had kept for decades (except for her mink coat, but that’s another story).

And yet, she kept letters my brother and I wrote her when we were in college in the 1970s—letters that somehow survived through my grandmother’s moves from one apartment to another, then to assisted living, and finally to a nursing home.

Now that I don’t dress up for work anymore, I don’t wear the amethyst pin very often. But every once in a while I see it in my jewelry box. I take it out and touch my finger to the handmade points and curls, and I think of my grandmother. I recall not just the pin, but other stories about my grandmother’s long life. I have shared some of those stories in earlier posts, and I will share more in the future.

What gifts have you received that remind you of the giver?

Posted in Family, History, Philosophy and tagged , , , , .


  1. What a beautiful pin. I’ve always loved amethyst. I had to laugh reading about the clunky gold and silver pins from the 1980’s. I remember those well. 🙂

    I have a black onyx ring that belonged to my grandmother. It’s not worth much in value, but the memories it holds are priceless.

  2. I have an amethyst pin from my grandmother too! Although hers is shaped more alike a canoe, with the amethyst in the middle flanked by two itty bitty pearls. It’s similarly delicate and I know my grandmother cherished it but I cannot remember why she gave it to me or what its story is.

  3. I have a small mixing bowl with a cross-stitched pattern around the edge from my grandmother. She received it from a neighbor after grandmother’s house burned to the ground in rural Missouri soon after they built it. All the neighbors brought things for them because they had nothing left except the two twin beds my grandfather was able to quickly disassemble and throw out the window.

  4. My son gave me a carved wooden nose on a pedestal. A place to keep my glasses so I wouldn’t use them. It doesn’t work, but every time I look at the nose, it makes me smile to think of my son, thinking of me. Great post!

  5. I have several things my family left to me and probably a few stories, therefore await my attention. One of the oldest treasures is the first watch my father gifted to my mother. The face is so tiny, I doubt she could have read the time when received at the age of seventeen. I’m talking tiny.

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