Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England
This exhibition showcases our vast collection of jewelry made and worn in New England from the eighteenth century to today. See authentic items New England’s residents wore and loved. Through original heirlooms and stories that connect with daily life, find out how New Englanders use jewelry to mark important moments.
The Momentos exhibition revolves around five themes: Celebrate, Tour, Remember, Collect, and Create
Weddings, birthdays, and new additions to the family all call for ways to mark the day and remember the moment. Jewelry boxes are filled to bursting with class rings, watches, Mother’s Day brooches, and graduation cufflinks.
The jewels of these seven women and men represent love and loss, journeys to remote locations, and a deep commitment to family. Assembling their collections allowed each person to explore his or her family’s past and personal style.
Grieving for and remembering those who have died have always been fundamental rituals. Mourning gems, by definition, outlive those they celebrate. Jewels passed from generation to generation as each added its own memories of loved ones lost.
European craft traditions in colonial guilds blossomed into manufacturing centers supplying a range of adornment options. Providence, Rhode Island, and Attleboro, Massachusetts, became costume jewelry powerhouses while artisanal jewelers throughout New England offered modern, wearable art.
Favorite pieces of jewelry document beloved places, exotic locations, or childhood retreats. New Englanders traveling on a European Grand Tour, sailors returning from Asia, and domestic tourists each brought home prized keepsakes of their journeys.