A Lesson in Beauty and History
I’ve always loved bracelets. They are my favorite piece of jewelry because they are so noticeable when you move your arms. I love them so much that I requested a wedding bracelet instead of a wedding ring when I got married. I don’t wear it anymore because it may be beautiful but it wasn’t created to last a lifetime. That’s not the case for the hefty bangles in gold or silver I noticed on the wrists of local wahine of all ages here in Hawaii. These bangles were so different from what I was used to, and were so distinctively Hawaiian, with their black enamel engraving, floral inspired textures, and touch of glamor mixed with island earthiness. And they have a history that goes back to 1862 when Queen Lili’uokalani, who was interested in all things English, had the first one commissioned, thereby setting in motion a fashion fad that has stayed to this day.
There are many jewelry stores and sources for heritage pieces around the state but I was pleased to attend the opening for the Phillip Rickard Honolulu located on the third floor of building C in the Royal Hawaiian Center and can suggest you give them a look. Besides being an amazing jeweler, with a manufacturing shop right there in the store, Mr. Rickard is an authority on the history of Hawaiian jewelry and he has put that knowledge to work by constructing a museum in conjunction to the new store. Going through the museum you will learn the history behind the heirloom jewelry and also see vintage pieces from Hawaii history. Store employees told me that they see people enter the museum and stay at length, reading every word and looking at each display. The story of the jewelry and how it relates to the ties between Hawaii, England, and Queen Victoria is quite interesting. The Museum is free and for a small charge you can have a guided tour.
But if you see the museum, go into the store and see the glorious merchandise that is on display. Mr. Rickard is an amazing designer and has pieces of all types for sale at the store. The Heritage line may have started with bracelets, but has expanded to all types of jewelry. The shop has a line of pearl jewelry, something very popular here in Hawaii, that includes rings and amazing strands. The gold line comes in yellow, white, and a very nice rose, my favorite. I love seeing how the heritage designs can work in necklaces, earrings, charms, and even cell phone charms. And then there is the engraving – distinctive to this style – in traditional black enamel, plus other colors if desired, marking your piece with your name, initials, or special wording. This is what gives the jewelry its timelessness and produces pieces that are passed down to generations.