The priceless gift my daughter gave me at Rootstech – Heritage Jewelry

Did you know you can memorialize a loved one’s handwriting in a piece of custom jewelry? Check out this very special piece of heritage jewelry. bracelet

Last week I celebrated my birthday at RootsTech 2016. What a party! A highlight was an impromptu birthday serenade by the audience after my Think Tank lecture at the Genealogy Gems booth.

Something I’ll also never forget was receiving this birthday gift from my daughter Lacey. It’s a bracelet that says “Mother” in handwriting script. Lacey asked me, “do you recognize the handwriting?”

Recognize the handwriting? What did she mean? As I gave it a closer look, I did indeed recognize it. It was my beloved Grandma Burkett’s handwriting. I would know it anywhere.

My Grandma Burkett is so special to me. She loved me with all her heart and I always knew it. She also introduced me to family history, as I explain in the RootsTech video clip below.

Yes, I know that handwriting on my bracelet well, and it is a tender memory to wear it. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve–this is like wearing my heart around my wrist.

Lacey says it was really easy to order this custom heirloom piece, and she loves it because “no one else will ever have the same one!” Here are Lacey’s tips for ordering something like it:

1. “Plan ahead, as most of the vendors who create these types of jewelry take at least 4 weeks. I used Monogrammed Necklaces, an vendor.

2. In the case of the bracelet, the handwriting piece was included in the total length of the bracelet, but the writing lays flat instead of curving with your wrist so it actually shortens the length of the chain. So I would suggest ordering an inch or two longer than you need.

3. Provide them with the actual word(s) you want written. If you have more than one word, they will be squished together to be one continuous piece. (You might be able to get them written on two lines, but again the top and bottom would be squished together.)

4. Read reviews before ordering. Make sure people aren’t saying the piece breaks easily or feels low-quality. Look at examples of the jewelry to get an idea of what kind of sample you want to select. I researched several vendors before picking this one. This one also came ready to go in a pretty box, which was a nice touch. They can also engrave pendants with handwriting, which is great if you want the words with spaces between or longer writings.”

family heirlooms

This isn’t the first piece of jewelry I’ve worn in honor of Grandma Burkett. I’ve blogged in the past about turning one of her earrings into a ponytail holder, which is quite a conversation piece whenever I wear it. Click here to read that post.

Find more heritage jewelry, family history craft and display ideas on the Genealogy Gems Pinterest boards. Have you made or purchased something special yourself? We’d love to hear about it!

Get Inspired! 8 Last-Minute Holiday Heritage Craft Ideas

Looking for last-minute holiday heritage craft inspiration for over the holidays? Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite heritage and holiday crafts made by myself and Gems listeners. These are fantastic conversation starters that will delight your family members and tell the unique stories of your ancestors. The look great on display and can be customized for just about any holiday or occasion. Make a gift for yourself or someone you love!

Heritage Christmas Stocking

1. Watch this 2-part video series on my YouTube channel about how I created a homemade stocking that celebrates all the moms who came before me. It’s a crazy quilt design with embroidery and photos I transferred to fabric.

Here’s a handout with instructions.

Heritage-Themed Jewelry

There are SO many wonderful ways to wear our family history. Click below to see examples and instructions for each of these three ideas:

2. A single clip-on earring becomes a hair tie.
3. A pendant necklace featuring an old postage stamp references my family history.
4. A charm bracelet made with tiny framed photos of loved one.

If you like family history themed jewelry but don’t have the means to craft it, check out our brand new line of hand-made family history inspired jewelry. Order one today for the genealogist in your life (makes a great stocking stuffer!). 

Heritage Christmas Ornaments

5. A picture frame ornament has black and white photos inserted in the openings of small wooden craft frames. The frames are painted frames silver and hung with simple metallic twine.

6. The gorgeous ornament shown here, made by professional genealogist Amy Urman, was featured in Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 15 (Premium website membership required to access–but you can look at it here for free!). Amy takes old glass and crystal and scrapbooking paper and solder and creates these one-of-a-kind holiday tributes to her ancestors.

Heritage Calendar

7. Ring in the new year by making a calendar packed with family photos and even birthdays, anniversaries or other family celebrations. This was another great idea sent in by one of our listeners!

Holiday Heritage Wreath

8. You can make a family history-themed wreath with tiny photos of loved ones intertwined in the branches so that the faces of your loved ones can be part of your holiday celebrations. Click on the link above to see inspiring photos and find a link to a 4-part video tutorial.

More Holiday Heritage Craft Ideas from Genealogy Gems

Old Artifacts Become New Again: Jewelry with Found Objects

necklances closeupWhat old family artifacts do you have that would make a great piece of jewelry?

Recently I heard again from Gems follower Jen McGraw, whose question inspired a recent blog post on researching in state capitals. “I make necklaces with vintage postage stamps (from the 1890s thru 1970s) or vintage skeleton keys,” she told me. “I would love to make one for you and give it to you as a gift of thanks for your info and help.” She asked what countries I’m interested in (she has stamps from just about everywhere) and what color metals I wear, then custom-created this gift for me. (She does this for others, too: here’s her Facebook page.)

FullSizeRender (1)A public thanks to Jen–I love this new necklace! What fun to see how she has incorporated these old stamps and keys into new jewelry. Jewelry with found objects is unique and trendy, but I love it because it can be a real conversation-starter. The colorful designs on stamps and their history can say something about the wearer’s family history. To me, old keys symbolize unlocking the fascinating mysteries of the past.

I have blogged before about incorporating family history into jewelry, like this post about turning a piece of found jewelry (a single earring) into a unique hair accessory. I love hearing about YOUR creative displays and jewelry, too: feel free to send your pictures and stories!  Click here to read our blog posts about crafts and displays, or follow my Pinterest board on Family History Craft Projects.

Family Photo Charm Bracelet: Heritage Jewelry Idea

family photo braceletRecently we received this picture of a photo charm bracelet made by Genealogy Gems Premium member Mary Ann. We loved it so much we thought we’d share it with everyone (with her permission, of course).

“I got the idea from one of the vendors you had spoken about on one of your podcasts, someone I think you saw in an exhibit hall perhaps and gave their web site link.” She made a bracelet previously that she gave away for a family gift exchange. Shown here is a bracelet she made recently for a relative after her father died of cancer. “I went to…the funeral and took this bracelet to her.  It includes the six photos on the original…bracelet plus photos of her mom and dad.”

What a sweet gift to give someone after losing a loved one! It would also make a beautiful gift for any occasion–including a gift you give yourself.

A custom family history bracelet like this is available for purchase through the Genealogy Gems store.

A custom family history bracelet like this is available for purchase through the Genealogy Gems store.

The good news is that you don’t even have to make a bracelet like this yourself. The inspiration piece Mary Ann mentioned was a discovery I made at a family history conference. The vendor makes beautiful custom heritage jewelry for others, with their family photos. I carry her bracelet in the Genealogy Gems store because I think it’s a gem.

Looking for more craft ideas like this one? Check out the Genealogy Gems Pinterest boards, where you’ll find displays, crafts, jewelry, home decor, heritage scrapbooking ideas, quilts and more.

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