Out of the Pot and Into the Fire

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling, and Rescued Things

For as long as I can remember, there has been a scrap box in Joe’s office.  This is where all the little bits of gold end up…  broken chains, mismatched earrings, jewels that are no longer worth repairing, and occasionally items that just won’t sell.  From time to time, we send the contents of the box to the refinery to be melted down.  

I like to think that we are custodians of the past…  guardians of the jewelry from the last two hundred years and all the history held within.  As such, very few actual pieces of jewelry ever make it into the scrap box.  We try, but it seems sinful to melt a piece of jewelry just because it’s no longer in style.  

These tiny pins are a perfect example.  Each one is a miniature work of art.    Crafted from gold, set with assorted gemstones and seed pearls, and featuring various colors of enamel – they’re fraternity pins.  Every time I come across them, it makes me sad that they lay in a pile in a drawer…  but not sad enough to scrap them!

Fraternities have been around since 1776 and were originally created for the purpose of debating issues thought inappropriate by the faculty of their school.  Over time, they developed into social and cultural organizations.  At the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s, another tradition began; the ceremony of pinning.  A young fraternity brother would “pin” his girl with one of these little beauties, signifying that she was now more important to him than his frat house.  Customarily, this would lead to engagement and ultimately, marriage.  Such importance for such a teeny little brooch.  

Perhaps some of you were “pinned”?  Or perhaps your mother or your grandmother was?  Maybe you still have the pin itself.  If you do, heed my advice.  Keep it!  And write down the story of it and how you got it.  Share it with your family.  And if you or someone you know lost or sold their pin, stop in and see me…  we just may have another one!  

You can go to a museum and look, or come to us and touch.

Written by Carrie Martin

Photos by Dana Jerpe

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