I was having lunch with my fiancé at a busy restaurant in Stockholm the other day. Halfway through, I got a quite surprising e-mail:
Browsing on the Monoqi site looking for a Christmas present for my wife, I came across your lovely jewellery. I was particularly taken by ‘Bracelet 2’ and your invitation to give the bracelet a name and a story. What would make this Christmas gift perfect is if it could be named Annette.
Her story is one of remarkable resilience. Put briefly: 2004 breast cancer, 2008 brain tumour, 2012 breast cancer for a second time, 2013 recurrence of brain tumour, 2013 brain aneurysm, 2015 tongue cancer. Every procedure has involved major invasive surgery yet through it all and despite numerous unpleasant side effects like partial loss of sight, lack of feeling in her fingertips, almost permanent headaches etc she remains upbeat and forward looking. She never makes a fuss and would undoubtedly try to talk me out of it if she knew I was making this suggestion to you. Nevertheless to have a piece of jewellery named after her would give her immense satisfaction.
Can I leave the suggestion with you.
Image borrowed from koncept.se
It instantly brought me to tears, among all the people in the busy restaurant! I immediately replied to Tony and let him know it’d be an honor to craft this bracelet for his wife.
I also asked him if I’m allowed to share this story, in order to provide strength and comfort to those who are experiencing something similar. He promptly replied with the following:
Oh Hanna, I cannot begin to tell you how happy – and proud – Annette will be on Christmas Day. And please, yes, share her story. Fortunately the days when people were reluctant even to say the word cancer, perhaps for fear of invoking it, are disappearing. Annette will happily tell others who want to hear about her cancer experiences and, indeed, her DNA is being analysed in five different major university research projects into the causes of multiple primary cancers. The consultant geneticist from Oxford University she saw at the Leicester Royal Infirmary says he has only come across one other case like hers.
For myself I am something of an expert on hospital waiting rooms and have met some “interesting” individuals in the various clinics. For this I blame Annette who is quite a magnet for ‘quirky’ individuals who can often be quite lonely and want somebody to listen to their story. Annette has a great aptitude for remembering conversations and some of the offbeat things that are said. One lady, for example, proudly told her that her daughter had just got pregnant by HIV (she meant IVF), another sought her approval for the “ear muffins” she was wearing. Muffins are a sort of bread roll, she meant ear muffs. And, believe me, there are many many more. In fact just before she was diagnosed with cancer for the very first time she was sitting on a bench in the hospital grounds when an elderly man in his early 80s but dressed in a shiny tracksuit, a baseball cap back to front and wearing a gold medallion sat beside us. He somewhat unintentionally kept us highly amused for 10 minutes and then as Annette stood up to go back into the clinic to get her biopsy results, this chap saw me more clearly and nodding towards me but speaking to Annette, asked “Who’s this then, your son?” “No,” she said with some indignation, “my husband … and that is why I have aged and he has not!” As she jokingly said, that conversation was the worst thing to happen to her that day. Just one more little story from the many – waiting in a queue at the hospital bus stop a psychiatric (she presumed) patient advanced purposefully towards them holding in his outstretched hand a bible. “Have you all read this?” he asked with a rather unnerving stare. “Well yes,” said Annette, “but I’m only half way through it so don’t spoil the ending.” Mumbling to himself, he wandered off.
If people ever ask you why the bracelet is called Annette you now have a little more flesh to put on the bones, so to speak.
At the moment Annette is having a rest but when she gets up I will be able to slink into the room and measure one of her favourite bracelets. I’m inclined to think L will be better than M but when I have correct measurement I will place the order.
With respect and thanks,
We kept corresponding to get the size right, and I got updates on the bracelets he was able to measure in secret without her noticing:
“You’re a star, Hanna! I’ve just measured her two favourite bracelets (under the guise of reattaching a gold guardian angel that recently came off) and they’re 21 cm long. Would you be kind enough to make the bracelet this length.”
I was more than happy to, of course! The bracelet is a 3 mm thick silver bangle with a small hammered 18K gold ring attached to it. I ordered the most gorgeous silk ribbons so that I could package it more beautiful than ever before before shipping it.
A few weeks later I got a letter in the mailbox (yes, a physical letter!). The post stamp revealed it came all the way from England. “What could this be?”, I thought. I opened the envelope with excitement and lo and behold — a beautiful Christmas card with a thank you note from Tony!
The gratitude and appreciation I felt was mesmerizing. Not only from Tony’s postcard, but from the whole process of being able to co-create the bracelet together with Tony. And the fact that we were an ocean apart made it feel even more magical.
Whenever I get to design and craft jewelry that revolves around an emotional story, like with Tony or for example couples that want me to do their engagement rings, it feels like we’re connected through the whole creation process. I know who I’m crafting for, and I get to have a glimpse of the actual person who will wear my craft. Therefore, I’m also very happy to name my jewelry after them too. It’s my way of saying thank you for the connection and the support.
Because without you, there would be no Opium Jewelry <3
See Annettes bracelet here.