From the time I was a small girl, I loved going through my mother's jewelry box. My father had sent the small oak box, lined with dark yellow silk, to my mother from Italy, where he was stationed in the Air Force during World War II. To my child's eyes, it held wondrous treasures: pale yellow mother-of-pearl beads, dark red amber earrings, Italian cameos, and a long Guatemalan wedding necklace of silver pods. I would take piece out of the box, try it on, and ask my mother to recite where each treasure came from. I performed this ritual anytime she permitted. I remember feeling that these jewels were precious--precious to my mother and therefore to me.
Girls are captivated by their mother's jewelry--it is beautiful and valued, like the feminine itself. In all traditions, jewels symbolize the inner treasure of the sprit. Girls intuit their inner treasure, the life-giving potential of their bodies and spirits.
When women in psychotherapy dream about the awkward teenagers they once were, they dream not only about their clothes and their hair, but also about their jewelry. A woman dreams of a special pearl necklace being stolen; she has lost the feminine spirit and guidance that once were a girl's birthright. The gem is always powerful, magical, or spiritual in the dreams. If the jewelry is wrong or missing, the spirit is missing. As a woman regains her feminine center and begins to nurture herself, the jewel is found and she experiences a tremendous infusion of energy and a connection to a greater feminine essence.
One woman in psychotherapy dreamed that she was at the edge of a deep, wide river, trying to figure out how to get across. Wading into the muddy water, she walked to a sandbar visible partway across. Looking down, she saw a single silver earring in the shape of a new moon, inlaid with coral, turquoise, and mother-of-pearl, half-buried in the sand. As she picked it up, she wondered who had lost it. Was it herself or another woman, years before? Then she suddenly realized that the river was offering it to her as a sign that she had regained her feminine essence.
Girls and women all over the world adorn themselves with jewels and metals. So more and more women are choosing to celebrate their daughters' femininity with jewelry at special times in their lives--a small silver or gold locket, perhaps containing a tiny picture of a family member or pet inside, for a four- or six-year-old; moonstones or red stones for a girl who is coming of age; a special piece inherited from a grandmother or aunt or godmother to help a girl connect with her feminine lineage.
In one family I know, a diamond ring has been passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter on their 16th birthdays. The girls grow up knowing that it will someday be theirs, and that someday they in turn will pass it down. In most girls' coming-of-age rituals, the jewelry is placed directly on the girl's body by her sponsor or mother: the necklace around her neck, the crown on her head, the ring on her finger.