In Episode 9 , I speak to Tanya and sisters Usarae and Misha about the jewellery pieces they inherited from their late mothers. Jewellery carries a special sentiment especially of those who are no longer with us. Tanya feels closer to her mum wearing her pieces every day. Usarae and Misha bond over stories of their mum's jewellery pieces and remember her when they wear her them.
Tanya talks about when her and and her sisters went through her mum's jewellery at the request of her dad. What's really interesting is that Tanya's pieces that she shared with me are not actually made of Gold. Although the prominence of the project has been placed on gold jewellery, hearing Tanya's story shows the materiality of the piece isn't what makes the jewellery special, it's the story and emotion behind the pieces that give them their true value.
"My mom passed away about five years ago now. And of course, it's still very raw. And when my brother got married last year in December 2020. And that's when my dad is like, Look, just go through her jewellery, and split it between the three girls. So we did. And mom had these sets with various precious stones, I chose the on with the Amethyst, And I wear these every day."
Tanya tells me why she chose this particular amethyst set from her mum's collection:
"I was drawn to these pieces because I've seen mom wear them so often. And when I was looking through my wedding pictures, she was wearing the set as well. And so it's kind of like knowing that her essence is on there like she wants wore this ring. She wore all of this and this is the thing that that stays with me. And so I wear it in her memory."
Through out this series we've talked about being handed down/ inheriting pieces almost in a ceremonious way however speaking to Tanya about how her relationship of wearing her mum's jewellery pieces/ clothing was really shed a light on their close relationship;
"In my experience, when something's been passed down, when mum actually gave us things, it was just like a casual, if you want this, you can use it, rather than feeling like you to have it because it means so much to me , and I think that's how we were as daughters and Mother, you know, like she was very much like, if you want to wear this outfit, then just wear it you know, it's like we were quite casual about it."
Tanya shares how the pieces she wears helps her with the grief of losing her mother;
"I think energy is well, I feel it has Mum's Energy, each of these pieces has her energy in it. Through this journey of grief, I don't know if I'm coming out the other side but there's just like an ever evolving grief, like ever evolving journey. And I feel like I'm sort of becoming more connected with the universe and grounded. And I look for a lot of signs, you know, whether that is a feather in the ground or, feeling better when I wear her jewellery. And if I didn't wear them, those days are my lounge days. That's where I get nothing done. And when I put on her jewellery, I just feel empowered and ready."
We also talk about a pearl set she has from her mum's mum and how the style of this set really shines a light on her Nani's personality;
"And they're so delicate because they're rice pearl. And I think it just sort of summed up my nanny's personality because she was a really delicate, gentle. She's a small petite lady. And a lot of people say I remind them of her because of the size and shape. "
Throughout our conversation Tanya kept coming back to the energy these pieces exude, how she feels when she wear's not only her mum's jewellery but her clothing too.
"As we cherish the memories, I think it's the energy of the pieces that we should take in. Mum's energy was very calm and strong, at the same time and that strength is what I think I feel like I get when I like to wear the pieces with pride, just to celebrate the jewellery again and don't be shy anymore to wear them"
I then to talk to sisters, Usarae and Misha about their memories of first coming to the UK from Pakistan where they were born and starting primary school.
"I actually remember that as well. I was three or four. I thinking about it recently actually, because I used to love that time where my siblings would have gone to school, and then it would just be me and my mum together, and I used to have like a toy vacuum cleaner so whenever she used to vacuum, I would get my toy one out, and then we'd like go off to nursery and I really I wasn't really like going because I wanted to stay with my mum and then when I went into like bigger school I remember being shown into the classroom and my sister was there and she showing me off to everyone as a younger sister with pride."
(Misha on the left and Usarae on the right)
Usarae talks about a 3 layered necklace that your mum had made into 3 separate necklaces for herself, her sister and her brother;
"We're three siblings and obviously you know we got to be sharing everything and my mum, who unfortunate isn't with us anymore but a while back, she had this one statement 3 layered necklace separated into three for each one of us. They're just so stunning in their own right, each tier so I don't feel it takes away from it at all and it makes it a lot easier to wear. I feel like a fairy princess when I wear them, I've seen pictures of my nani wearing this as well to like my uncle's weddings and my mum, I've only actually worn this a few times because it's just so I just feel it carries so much weight in like a sense of like, I'm special when I'm wearing this."
Misha mentions her mum's love for old, ornate jewellery;
"It's quite funny because when my mom was getting married she shared the story with us a few times and it was to my dad, as he doesn't have any siblings so it's just him and my grandma asked about what jewellery she'd like and she felt really cheeky just saying I really like old school kind of jewellery so do you have anything of yours from your wedding. She was really just like that. I think my dadi was like more than happy to give something of hers to my mum and happy she appreciated it."
I asked Usarae how does she feel when she wears her mum's pieces:
"I feel very special. I feel very Asian, I feel very Pakistani I feel like this is just me and like no one else can get this feeling, isn't just jewellery. This is like I feel like I'm being crowned, like the princess of whatever. I can that my posture changes, even as I'm sat here, I'm like trying to sit with a straight back a because I'm carrying my mother and my grandma."
Misha talks about how she appreciates that her sister Usarae took the time to find out about the stories of her mum's pieces so they can share the sentiment of them them together;
" I feel really grateful that I have my sister to look at this jewellery, when we're together I just remember just snippets from my childhood where my mom and my sister will be talking about the jewellery of the origins and so she knows a bit more about it than I do and I really appreciate that. I love that we can have that conversation, I even remember for my sister's wedding day in 2013 or just the preparations for it, we're just looking at the jewellery and just picking and choosing you know which one would look good with this outfit. I don't know how we would have done that without each other, Definitely I think we feel really lucky that we're able to share this. It's a big responsibility."
"We both have a shared appreciation and love and each of us have their little bit of the story of these pieces so together we can have like a little bit more of the story."
Misha talks about her memory of looking at her mums jewellery together as females in the family, and her last memory with her mum and how much that sentiment meant to her;
"I'm also I just feel really happy that it's something that our mom held importance so I remember you know, every once a month or every couple of months or just before a party or a wedding, my mom would just kind of get the box, she basically cleared the bed and put a white sheet so if anything goes missing, we can see it properly, then we'd all sit around the bed and then my mom would bring out each piece and just be like wow. And I'd also like to add here that my last memory with my mom was actually looking through jewellery together, like that's how important it was."
When I asked Usarae if there was anything she'd like to add to the story, she mentioned something that really stuck with me about not waiting for a special occasion to adorn yourself;
I think another thing I wanted to add is that our mum was really adamant that you need to wear what you have, on Friday she would get dressed up and wear you gold set, and I think it was really lovely to see that it's not like a museum piece where you can't touch it and it can be worn every day is special. And I think, especially now that we don't have her or my grandma we know the importance of every day, like so much more; it weighs that much more. We know nothing's promised, it sounds really gloomy but like everything is a gift in a special way. I could wear this (the jewellery set) for the rest of the day and it's okay. I want to feel special every day, and I do think a part of putting this jewellery on is self care because it gives you, a Queen moment of I'm worthy, I can carry these adorning myself"
Speaking to both Tanya, Usarae and Misha was so heartwarming to see how these jewellery pieces from their mothers are a way to remember them and feel close to them for years to come. Tanya placed huge importance on feeling the energy of her late mother around her through her clothing, jewellery and even being back in Nairobi at her home and garden. You could really see and feel the unique and special bond between the sisters Usarae and Misha and how the gold jewellery they share is a vehicle for story telling of their mum's life and female lineage.