A gentleman enquired “Do you do Mizpah Brooches?”
Honestly, I’ve never heard of them! Obviously I did not say that. But you know me… I love a challenge!
I said, “I can make just about anything have you seen one you like?”
That was the problem, there were none, and no one had heard of them in any of the jewellery stores he’d visited. He had been sent on an errand. I grabbed my keyboard and up came Google, what did we do before computers? I spent hours in the library, that’s what I did!
I searched images and showed these to the gentleman. The problem was it was two weeks ’til Christmas (the bespoke deadline had passed weeks ago aaarrrggghhh).
A good friend of his had requested that he find one as a gift for his wife for Christmas. His wife had always wanted one and he was terminally ill. He feared the worst and after Christmas was not an option, this was to be the last gift from a dying man to his wife.
As the gentleman did not have a computer, yet alone knew who Google was! I offered to print a sheet of examples out to take to his friend to make sure we were thinking along the same lines. The fact that Google then spoke to a printer and a photo appeared before him, well impressed was not even a word!
I researched into Mizpah and what a super idea.
What is Mizpah jewellery? Mentioned in the Bible, Mizpah is a Hebrew word that denotes an emotional bond between two people. Mizpah jewellery generally was exchanged between two people who were lovers or close friends and might be separated from each other for some amount of time. Some of the pieces are engraved with the phrase, “The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another,” which immediately follows the mention of Mizpah in the book of Genesis.
When was it popular? Mizpah jewellery first came about during the Victoria era and was popular through the 1880s before experiencing a drop-off in popularity. The pieces experienced a revival, however, in the early 1900s, when men were leaving their families to fight in World War I.
By the end of the conflict, interest in the pieces waned and they never regained popularity, though “sweetheart jewellery” was popular during World War II, pieces also exchanged between loved ones separated by war.
A few days later Mr “Mizpah Brooch” returned. He set his budget, told me she wanted gold and I set to work. I got as much information I could about the couple to try to personalise the gift and give it even more meaning. He loved the simplicity of the Art Nouveau style brooch shown above, so I took the essence of the shape of that one to build the design around. I discovered they were both Welsh, the idea of Daffodils (as opposed to the traditional ivy) sharing the same heart was a must. The daffodil heads were slightly bowed towards one another, due to the impending loss of the other. The heart itself contained a diamond (which I added at no extra charge) in a star setting. I always believed that when someone passed on they would shine on me through the dark in the form of a star so I felt this was a lovely touch to his Mizpah Brooch.