My grandmother’s hands

I remember sitting in the backseat with my nan, holding her hand. I was in my early 20s, she in her mid 70s and I looked at her old hand on mine, resisting the urge to gently pinch her skin into a soft, static peak like I’d done when I was a kid. Understandably, she didn’t have much patience for this game, the one where I silently reminded her of her age and lack of elastin, but children have little understanding of youth passing. A lifetime of working with her hands gave them spades of character and working as a seamstress then domestic cleaner had made them strong & capable.

Her jewellery was modest; a thin wedding ring made from 22ct gold and two others with small diamonds, all of which she’d been wearing since her wedding 50 years ago. The slender bands spun easily around the base of her fingers but her knuckles held then on tightly. As a jeweller I’ve probably studied more hands than most, tapered digits, puffy pillows, arthritic knuckles, but my nan’s hands were almost as familiar as my own.

As I stared at our softly cupped grip, she brought her left onto the top of mine and patted it gently, saying “you’ve got my hands”.
Her wrinkled paw on my nubile glove, how could she even think that? But sure enough, as soon as she said it I could see that she was right – same size and shape, just age and tone were different, a small glimpse into my future.

Nan’s long-since passed away and I’ve continued to work with my hands for another 25 years and they have indeed become hers. So when I recently finished a gold ring I’d been wanting to make for a while it shouldn’t have surprised me that I had created something reminiscent of her style. A fine gold band with a character-filled diamond – it filled me with such love for her and reminded me of how important jewellery is. I’ve resisted making engagement rings, dipping in and out over the years for friends but now I’d like to dedicate a range of rings to my beautiful grandmother Rita staring with this one.
A lifetime of manual work has delivered me my grandmother’s hands and I couldn’t be prouder.

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