Most days, I have on a gold necklace. It’s the same one all the time; I hardly ever take it off.
This is necklace, in my view, is gorgeous and conspicuous. A woman is allowed one, maybe two conspicuously gorgeous accessories on any given day. She can switch out the conspicuously gorgeous accessories as she wishes, but more than two at once (e.g., nice earrings and a handbag) and you’re breaking a cardinal rule made by Big Mama Chanel. Chanel — who we can all agree was a real pain in the ass — said that before you leave the house, you should take off the last thing you put on. (I’m pretty sure she was taking about accessories, not shoes or pants.) And she’s right. If you find yourself wearing a necklace, earrings, a couple bracelets, a handbag of consequence, and a selection of rings, you end up looking rather…accessible, if you catch my drift. Can’t have that.
My necklace is my secret wardrobe weapon. It ensures that I am never over-accessorized. This is because my ensemble on any given day starts at the necklace; not the other way around. Because I never take it off, the piece anchors my look. (Verily, it anchors my very soul.)
The medallion is a solid gold coin from Canada. My grandfather on my dad’s side did some business up there many years ago. The company he worked for screwed him over (this is what grampa told the adults in my life, who then vaguely explained it to me and this is how family lore is created) and grampa is dead now, but before all that depressing stuff happened, the man bought a few of these gold coins.
My mom and my now-deceased grandfather had a complex relationship while my parents were married; the relationship remains complex to this day, even though it now only exists in the abstract. It’s like that with most people who knew my grampa; he was not a kind man. I’ve been assured from several well-intentioned sources that he mellowed considerably toward the end of his life, but to me, being mean your whole life and then being nice toward the end is like apologizing immediately after slicing someone’s throat: you feel terrible and you help with the paper towels, but someone is dying and it’s a little late, darling. Carnage wreaked.
But Grampa, feeling expansive one day, decided to have one of his Canadian coins set by a jeweler. And so he did, and he gave this piece to my mother. She did not wear it then; she did not wear it ever. It sat in her jewelry box for decades, sleeping the days away in the box’s velvet lining.
Mom and I were looking in her jewelry box several years ago she came across the coin. I gasped. I had never seen it before. I thought it was beautiful.
“Zounds!” I exclaimed. “What’s that?!”
Mom helped me unclasp the gold chain I was already wearing and we slid off the little seashell I had hanging from it. We replaced it with the medallion. As soon as I felt that coin around my neck, I felt like I had discovered America. The weight of it on my breast was thrilling; actual gold is heavy, it turns out! The shine, the yellowness of the disc communicated a first-prize win, a blue-ribbon. I felt like I had received a gold medal for simply being alive. I think we should all get a medal for that very reason; life is too hard to not get an award just for surviving more than a few birthdays. Mom saw how much I loved it and it is on permanent loan.
It’s only a piece of metal. But my necklace is the closest thing I get to a talismanic object. I wear my necklace around my neck and my heart on my sleeve and that’s all the adornment I need. Well, then there are my diamond earrings, but that’s another jewelry story for another day.
Note: Chanel also said, “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” This declaration was made in 1930, presumably from a chaise lounge inside La Pausa, Chanel’s home on the French Riviera. A person has to admire Chanel the businessperson, but no one has to like the woman herself. I mean, ew.