When Accessories Become Storytellers

Wearing jewelry is an easy way to accessorize, but it can also be symbolic. From wedding rings to best friend bracelets, jewelry can tell personal stories that are close to hearts.

Story by Myah Taylor

Photos by Jordan Steyer

Some of the most popular pieces of jewelry are charm bracelets. Charm bracelets are beautiful pieces that often harbor a lot of meaning for an individual. Each charm holds a different story, goal or significance.

When first asked about her shimmering silver bracelet that jingles with every movement, UT Austin journalism student Samantha Chavez looked down at her wrist with a smile. She began by talking about two charms she was gifted with for her fifteenth birthday: an airplane and a passport inspired by her love for travel. When she first received these charms, she had no chain to put them on. But since then, she has acquired one, along with several other new charms from throughout the years.

Samantha Chavez wears a bracelet adorned with personal silver charms.

Samantha Chavez wears a bracelet adorned with personal silver charms.

She added a sand dollar to her bracelet out of her desire to one day find one at the beach. Chavez’s sand dollar charm represents her belief “to keep looking for what you want to find, to never give up and to keep trying to go after what you want.” And the typewriter hanging from her wrist signifies her desire to be an author. “Even though I’m majoring in journalism,” Chavez says, “[being an author] is my dream and my hope.” Hopes, dreams, goals and memories don’t have to be locked away in a journal. Sometimes they can be right on your wrist.

Necklaces, too, can be pieces of jewelry worn with great intention. Some wear religious iconography as symbols of their faith, while others might wear lockets housing pictures of their loved ones. But for computer science student Emily Peterson, the small silver chess piece hanging from her necklace represents a facet of herself. “...I feel like [the chess piece] aligns pretty well with my identity and with the aspects of myself that I’m confident [in],” Peterson says.

She views chess as a sophisticated sport in which players must use intelligence and strategy to win and overcome their opponents. A self-described academic and logical individual, Peterson says that wearing the necklace makes her feel sophisticated and confident.

Emily Peterson wears a silver chain necklace to showcase one of her favorite chess pieces.

Emily Peterson wears a silver chain necklace to showcase one of her favorite chess pieces.

It’s important to mention that the chess piece on Peterson’s necklace is no lowly pawn; it is a queen. “It’s like a combination of power, femininity and sophistication.” But chief among the reasons Peterson loves this necklace is its emphasis on the mind and its neglect of outward appearances and physical strength. Necklaces are not merely extensions of personal style, but they can also be extensions of self-identity.

At the end of the 1997 romantic disaster epic, “Titanic”, Rose drops her blue diamond necklace, the ‘Heart of the Ocean,’ into the shadowy depths of the sea. The necklace was beautiful, ostentatious and worth a significant fortune. But to Rose, it came to represent much more.

Throwing the necklace into the water was her way of putting the ‘Heart of the Ocean’ back where it belonged. Simultaneously, in her old age, she gave her heart back to her first love, Jack. The necklace symbolized a love she never let go of and a promise she previously had to fulfill.

Jewelry is so much more than what meets the eye. Like diamonds as grand as ‘The Heart of the Ocean,’ the stories and significance behind pieces of jewelry can be both mystical and multifaceted