My Jewelry Story: Beth

I only knew my great-grandmother for the brief 3 1/2 years our lives overlapped. And I guess using the word "knew" is a bit of a stretch for a toddler. My first-hand memories of her are set in a nursing home, where she spent her final days, as arthritis had left her severely crippled.

I think the connection I feel with my great-grandmother comes though the many stories and references to her I heard growing up; I developed an idea of her at an early age - and I don't think my idea was too far off. Imogene Penhorwood was truly the matriarch of her family: strong, hard-working, and dare I say, domineering. She was raised on a farm, married to a minister, and raised three sons and a daughter. She embraced a leadership role among the women of her church and was affectionately known by them as "Mother Pen". Her youngest son was my grandfather, whom I enjoyed a close relationship with until his death just last year. I think much of his wit and humor could be attributed to "Imo", which was the nickname she went by with her family.

My mom says of her grandma, "She was a woman full of grace and poise; I loved and admired her because I witnessed how much pain she would be in, yet always had a smile for everyone and was so cordial and cheerful!"

The photos we have of her make me smile...and make me wonder, "How can you miss someone you never even knew?" 

The two unique pieces of jewelry I inherited from her aren't priceless - or even timeless! In fact, the bracelet especially seems to be a product of its era (maybe the 50s or 60s). The crystal necklace may be a strand from a bigger piece, as I have noticed from the photograph where Imogene appears to be wearing it.

But whether or not they carry any "value", they are precious to me because they were hers. She held them, she wore them, they went places with her. I'm thankful to have a small sliver of her for my own.

I hope my life reflects her legacy and I hope to pass that legacy (and these fun pieces of jewelry) on to my daughter as well.

 - blog by Beth Paschal

Do you have a piece of jewelry that is meaningful to you? Email your story and photos to myjewelrystory@belkai.com to possibly be featured on our blog!

My Jewelry Story: Annie

One of my fondest memories as a little girl was going to visit my grandma and looking through her collection of jewelry together. She had jewelry for every occasion, and, though it may have seemed like too much for some, it was her way of celebrating life. At every holiday we kids would run to her to see what jewelry she was wearing. Firecracker earrings on the Fourth of July, a pumpkin necklace for Halloween, and a dangling Christmas tree bracelet for Christmas.

But she also had such a lovely collection of delicate jewelry with so many pieces that caught my eye and made me dream of a collection of my own someday. I remember holding those pieces in my hands and studying each detail. My grandma had impeccable taste.

Her passing last year, though we knew it was coming, was still so difficult. Her absence is never far from our minds and we really miss what joy she brought to the party of life.

I am so very thankful to have found out I was pregnant with our third just days before she passed away. I'll never forget looking through old photo albums with her in those last days, talking about young life and old and getting to soak in the essence of who she was for one last time. I told her that if I was blessed with a third daughter this time around, I would name her Evalie - combining my Grandmas first and middle names of Evelyn and Marie. I'll never forget the joy she expressed at such a thought.

So when we found out we were indeed having a girl - and then when Evalie arrived - I felt so blessed not only by the sweet little life, but to able honor another one that impacted me so greatly.

Time has flown by and now our Evie is 7 months old and my grandma has been gone for more than a year. It's taken a long time for all of her things to be looked through and given to the right children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren. But there, in all of her jewelry, patriotic and pretty alike, was this "E" necklace. And my heart both ached and soared simultaneously to see this baby girl delight in a piece that was once worn around my Grandma's neck. 

It's so special to all of us here. But I know one day this girl will realize what a gift this really is. A piece of jewelry that is so much more than just a necklace. An heirloom that I'm sure my grandma never imagined would become one. But here we are, 3 generations later, treasuring her treasures.

 - blog by Annie Cline

Do you have a piece of jewelry that is meaningful to you? Email your story and photos to myjewelrystory@belkai.com to possibly be featured on our blog!

 

2nd Quarter Impact: Destiny Rescue

Each quarter, we give to a different organization that helps women and children. 20% of our profits work to rehabilitate and provide hope to those who have lost much.

This quarter, we are giving to Destiny Rescue, an international organization that rescues children from sexual slavery and exploitation. They currently have programs in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, and India, and are working towards opening more rescue operations in more countries each year.

I had the privilege of volunteering with Destiny Rescue for a year in Thailand. It was amazing to see the difference in the girls’ faces, demeanors, smiles, confidence, and trust. They come in unable to make eye contact, afraid to speak up. Within weeks - because they are so willing to love - they have smiles. They are like free young women again. It’s a truly beautiful thing to witness and be a part of. They learn to make jewelry, sew, work in a cafe, or be a hair stylist. They taught me Thai, they made me laugh, they bought me gifts, they gave me hugs, and they taught me more about life, love, and forgiveness than I could have ever taught them.

  

There are a lot of factors to the rescue and rehabilitation of a child - the actual rescue, housing and feeding the children, professional counseling, school, English classes, vocational training, paying their wages when they work for Destiny Rescue, and then safely assisting them in their reintegration into their communities. This all requires many hours from many different volunteers. It also requires a good deal of money.

On top of 20% of all sales going to Destiny Rescue this quarter, we also offer the Freedom pendant. When you purchase this pendant, 50% of sales go to DR.

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to encounter the real life change happening in children in Thailand. I know so many people who want to help but can’t give a year of their lives to volunteer. I love that bel kai has made a simple way for people to help these children - even if they don’t realize they are helping!

So take a look at our designs, especially the Freedom pendant, and know that any of your purchases are going to help these children that so deserve and need it.

If you want to learn more about what Destiny Rescue is doing, check out their website here. If you have any questions about it all that you’d like to ask me, feel free to email me at lauren@belkai.com.

For freedom,
Lauren

(Fun addition...here's bel kai's Director of Operations, Marah, with me in Thailand. Founder and CEO, Whitney, will also be visiting this fall.)

My Jewelry Story: Lauren

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Grandma and Grandpa Schafer. So much time, in fact, that just the other day when I was showing my husband pictures of me as a child, probably 80% of those pictures were taken at their house or with them.

I have so many memories of playing catch or going to Burger King with my grandpa, and of baking cookies, playing cards, and getting back scratches from my grandma. My grandpa loved golf and played often, though I just recently found out that he wasn’t actually any good. He loved taking photos and documenting the lives of people he loved. My grandma loved knitting, chocolate ice cream, and her family.

I recently moved back to the States after being overseas for two years. I was going through some of the things I had left behind, including an old jewelry box I’ve had for years. I found a lot of jewelry from my grandmas, including this cute tennis bracelet that I vaguely remembered. I asked my mom what it was from.

She told me that as my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary was approaching, my grandpa asked her what he should get for my grandma. He greatly loved my grandma, but wasn't exactly the most creative man. My mom suggested this bracelet, as it is simple and my grandma didn’t wear much jewelry aside from her wedding rings (and a string with a bell on it in winter that I had made her one Christmas as a necklace.) And so, on their 50th wedding anniversary, my grandpa gave my grandpa this beautiful bracelet.

I love being able to have a piece of my grandparents’ love story. I also love that it matches the ring I inherited that is both of their rings melted down into one with the diamonds from my grandma’s ring, that she had made and wore after my grandpa passed.

Being able to have and wear these pieces means a lot to me, just as my grandparents meant so much to me.

Do you have anything you keep in your jewelry box that means a lot to you? Or something you wear everyday? We would love to hear about it! Email your story and photos to myjewelrystory@belkai.com, and you may even be featured on our blog!