When Jenifer Priest walked into the little antique store near Division Street and Sprague Avenue nearly 20 years ago, she wasn’t looking for anything specific.
Browsing shelves and cases, a golden charm bracelet caught her eye and she picked it up.
Though it’s light enough that it could be worn comfortably all day, this is no flimsy piece of jewelry.
A strong golden chain holds six identical charms in the shape of a boy’s head. A birth date and name is engraved on the back of each one.
There are also two newer charms, still in the shape of a boy’s head but without the detail of the older charms.
The newer charms also each have a name and a birth date on them.
“It caught my eye because it’s so personal,” Priest said. “It didn’t seem like it belonged in a shop; it belonged in a home.”
She bought it but is not sure how much she paid for it.
And she wondered who it belonged to.
She bought it before social media was around, and there wasn’t much she could do in terms of finding its owner.
Not sure what to do with it, she kept it around, occasionally holding it, playing with the charms, wondering who the boys were.
Was their mother still alive? And why did the bracelet end up at the store?
“I showed it to a friend and she was totally fascinated by it, too,” Priest said.
Priest said she tried searching Google for the first names and birth dates, hoping perhaps a newspaper birth notice or an obituary would show up.
But she found nothing.
“I’ve always thought about the woman who wore this,” Priest said. “What was her life like?”
The two newer charms indicate the woman had two grandsons within a month in 1966.
“That must have made her really happy,” Priest said.
Priest, who worked in a fine jewelry store for a time, had her own charm bracelet. It was stolen in a burglary.
“I loved that bracelet,” Priest said. “Maybe that’s why I identify so strongly with this one.”
She’s shared a photo fo the bracelet on Facebook – with no results – and she realizes the owner may live in a different part of the country.
“It could be from an estate sale, or someone could have brought it back to Spokane from somewhere else. I just don’t know,” Priest said.
Some historians say charm bracelets are a modern interpretation of amulets and tokens worn thousands of years ago to ward off evil spirits and appease the gods.
According to Collector’s Weekly, Queen Victoria made charm bracelets fashionable among noblewomen, who soon had tiny diamond-studded hearts for love and emerald-decorated shamrocks for luck dangling from their wrists.
Considered kitschy and overwrought, they nearly disappeared from mainstream fashion in the ’70s and ’80s.
Charm bracelets have enjoyed a revival over the past two decades with modern brands like Pandora – which features a huge variety of beads with different themes – and classic Tiffany & Co. leading the way.
Priest’s bracelet is not fancy.
It’s not made out of valuable metals or studded with diamonds.
Yet Priest can’t imagine that the family wouldn’t want it back.
“It must hold value to them,” she said.
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