“Mementos” at the Eustis Estate reveals the stories behind the jewelry

May 12, 2017

Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England, the premiere exhibition at the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center, opens May 17, 2017.

Mementos features more than one hundred pieces of jewelry along with complementary textiles, portraits, and photographs from Historic New England’s extensive collections. Together, these objects unlock the lid of New England’s jewelry box. They tell tales of family history, industrial development, and artistic expression unique to the region.

Five thematic sections highlight jewelry’s unique role as a public display of personal history. The exhibition’s themes, Celebrate, Remember, Tour, Collect, and Create, feature wedding rings, souvenir cufflinks, jet earrings, opal brooches, and costume jewels that belonged to New England families from the eighteenth century to today. See a silver coin bracelet that is a wearable family tree, wedding jewelry that explores the various meanings of “I do,” tokens from travel abroad, jewelry that memorializes loved ones, and items that showcase New England’s role in the production of American costume jewelry.

“Jewelry is special,” said Associate Curator Laura Johnson. “Most people think of it as a luxury, but it is an important part of how we remember important moments. These objects, like all of Historic New England’s collection, help us tell fascinating stories about life in New England.”

See the exhibition

Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England is on display from May 17, 2017, to January 7, 2018. The Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center is located at 1424 Canton Avenue, Milton, Mass. 02186. The house is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays, from May to October, and Fridays through Sundays, from November to April. Guided tours daily at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $8 for students and children.

Exhibition Highlights

Bracelets (Part of a Set of Jewelry)

Stephen Twycross (c. 1745-c. 1822) London, c. 1796 Pearl, diamond, ivory, watercolor, gold. Gift of Mrs. Francis Gray. For his daughter Hannah’s wedding in 1797, Boston merchant Joseph Barrell commissioned a set of special adornments to celebrate family both living and dead.

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  • Bracelets (Part of a Set of Jewelry)

    Stephen Twycross (c. 1745-c. 1822) London, c. 1796 Pearl, diamond, ivory, watercolor, gold. Gift of Mrs. Francis Gray. For his daughter Hannah’s wedding in 1797, Boston merchant Joseph Barrell commissioned a set of special adornments to celebrate family both living and dead.

  • Love Token Coin Bracelet

    Possibly Providence, Rhode Island, c. 1885. Silver, Liberty Seated dimes. Gift of Miss Lydia G. Chace. This silver bracelet documents three generations of the Chace family of Providence, functioning as a wearable family tree.

  • Necklace

    Possibly the Vatican, Rome, c. 1857. Gold, glass, thread. Gift of Miss Jane S. Tucker. Before his marriage, Captain Richard Tucker toured Europe in 1857, where he acquired jewelry for his future wife, Mollie, including this set.

  • Brooch

    Constantin Roësler Franz. Rome, 1840-1860. Shell, gold. Gift of Ralph May. Carved by cameo artist and sculptor Constantin Roësler Franz, this shell cameo brooch depicts Venus in her chariot.