One of June’s birthstones is the pearl. This post is one I wrote while visiting
my Mom in October, 2013.
Several people responded positively about their memories of wearing pearls.
Some of us wore them in our Senior high school or college pictures.
I borrowed my Mom’s shorter length necklace of pearls and wore them with
a pink fuzzy sweater for one of my poses. It was one of my favorites since
the photographer had caught my looking off into space, looking wistful.
When my Mom opened the arts, lifestyle section and saw the famous
women wearing PEARLS, she exclaimed, “Oh! How wonderful!” She did
not read the article, just studied the photographs of a diverse group of
strong women who have shown us grace and beauty:
Princess Diana, Jackie Kennedy, Michelle Obama, Barbara Bush, Coco
Chanel, Liz Taylor, Camilla and Audrey Hepburn. Seeing the images of them
all with their pearls worn, made both of us nostalgic.
I had worn my pearls in my senior high school picture with a fuzzy pink
sweater. It was an Iconic sign of the times, the way I was raised, church,
getting ‘dressed up’ and wearing pearls were synonymous with each other.
Who can forget Holly Golightly in her “LBD” (“Little black dress”) finished off
with the four strands of pearls with a gorgeous clasp of diamonds, wearing a
tiara on her head up in a bun (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s)?
The details of the story are even more fascinating than those photographs.
When I wrote about “leaps of faith” I had not read this story, had not heard
of someone that had chosen to start their life again with a huge jump and
change in her pathway! Esther Kish, of Fairview Park, Ohio (suburb of
Cleveland), was asked at age 63, two years until her “official retirement age”
to try something totally new.
Now, to let you know that this was not so unusual for this outstanding woman
because in her busy life up until age 63, she had been a babysitter, a stay-
-at-home mother, waited tables, worked as a data entry clerk at Glidden Paints
Company and worked at a tannery, scrubbing leather hides.
This married woman, with a family, did not hesitate when asked,
“Would you like to work with jewelry?”
Esther Kish worked out her last two years at Glidden during the days, then
hurrying off to the renowned jewelry store, Potter and Mellen, for second shift.
A couple years ago, at the amazing age of 92, Esther was given a wonderful
and challenging project. No slowing down for her!
Incredible, age-defying, this tale included the intriguing project of a necklace
traveling across the ocean to the jewelry store, where she worked on it.
Esther considered the pieces of a necklace that needs to be totally redone
as one of her biggest challenges. It involved restringing a necklace from the
1900’s from France.
Each pearl in this intricate necklace was the size of a grain of rice, 400 in all!
She also had jewels of diamonds, emeralds and sapphires to complete the
necklace. She used her strong, able hands, with her intense focus to take
the fine needle and insert through each pearl bead, tying a perfect knot with
silk thread, choosing the color of the thread to match the color tone of the
pearls. She pulled knots tight between each pearl with tweezers before
adding the next.
An exquisite example of another 2013 project that Esther completed included
the sum of 135 graduated pearls with a 14 k. white gold clasp. This beautiful
example of her stunning work, was priced at $11,000.
Many of her fantastic projects have been completed in collaboration with
the Potter and Mellen goldsmith, restoring priceless heirlooms, earrings
and necklaces and her big, kind heart has kept her at the jewelry store late
at night, saving many husbands and relationships by her last minute gifts
for anniversaries, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
When we feel weary, don’t want to go to work, wish we could just retire, I
will have to reread this story of a woman who had just a few short years left
to a grand retirement party and easing into low gear.
Instead, she went through intense training at the Gemological Institute of
America in Philadelphia, PA.
She used to work daily long grueling hours on these tasks.
She found herself smiling, picturing the beauty of her final creations being
worn all over the world.
While looking back at this 2013 post, I realized dear Esther Kish could have
passed away. There are four Esther Kish’s, listed in the white pages of the
Cleveland phone book. One is still currently living in Fairview Park, Ohio.
We will cross our fingers she is still alive and taking on special “stringing
projects,” since she is truly a talented craftswoman.
Talking about changing the course of your life, Esther made a dramatic
change in career paths and kept on going!
Dear Esther Kish,
You are my motivation and inspiration for seeking a busy, enduring life!
Never stop, keep on going past the age of 94. . .
My last addition to this post:
The reference to wearing pearls is not so dated, after all.
The Band Perry uses these words, in their song, “If I Die Young:”
“Bury me in satin”… “Boys put on your vests” (to wear at the funeral)
and I’ll put on my pearls.”
The last word of the song is pearls and it is a hauntingly drawn out word, too.