Sophistique Noir White & Black Theme: Mourning Bracelets


During my late teens I lost my lovely Grandmother Elsie Margaret to a stroke. She died peacefully in her sleep, in her own bed – something I have lately begun to realise is very rare. She suffered from agoraphobia very badly during the last 8 years of her life, following the death of my equally lovely Grandfather John Robson.  I used to ‘grandma’ sit during this time, as my aunty had given up work to become her full time carer, and had little opportunity to get out and have time to herself.

I’d not at this stage of my life heard of the Victorian trend towards buying mourning jewellery such as jet. My grandma was not a wealthy woman but I was left a teeny sum of money from her estate. I decided to buy two bracelets with it, black enamel with a white and silver flower pattern hand painted on the surface.

Mourning Bracelets

Mourning Bracelets

I recall at the time my mother thought I should have bought ‘more fashionable’ jewellery – but these suited my particular style and my Grandma loved flowers. During her last year I was in my first at uni, a short bus ride away from her house. In between lectures I’d hop on a bus and go see her and aunty for a cup of tea. I always took her flowers. Usually carnations, but if I had a little extra cash I bought white freesia, her favourite flower.

Elsie Margaret during the 1920s

Elsie Margaret during the 1920s

When I read this month’s theme from the lovely Sophistique Noir was black and white my thoughts immediately went to these two seemingly insignificant bracelets. After 23 years of loss I still wear them at least once a week. Every time I do I think of my lovely Grandma and remember how lucky we were to have her as part of our lives. She wasn’t perfect – she was 4 foot 10 inches of pure temper sometimes (my mum being her 5 foot equivalent!), but she adored me and my brother. She loved the way my hair glows copper in the sun. I needed that as a teenager, when all around me were telling me how ugly red hair is and that I should dye it – something to this day which I have never done. She was proud of me in the way only grandparents can be, and the last time I saw her insisted on giving me extra pocket money because I’d just passed my first year at university.

So I dedicate this post to Elsie Margaret, and I will continue to wear my beautiful enamel bracelets for hopefully the next 23 years and remember a very ordinary and yet very special little woman.


11 thoughts on “Sophistique Noir White & Black Theme: Mourning Bracelets

  1. Thank you for sharing this story of your grandmother and the mourning bracelets which are quite lovely. Your grandmother sounds like the kind of woman we all wish to have as an elder- fiercely loyal and supportive. I love that you still wear these bracelets weekly after all these years.

    • She was a poppet. For reasons outside my mum’s control my brother & I had quite a stressful childhood, and we ended up homeless at one point. The one stable factor was my grandparents house, where we always spent the weekend, watching hammer horror films with Aunty until the small hours. Thankfully things stabilised, but I never forget how important my grandparents were in our lives, and how much my Aunty Elsie continues to be.

  2. This is truly a touching post. Buying those bracelets was the perfect tribute to your grandmother; the fact that you still treasure them so much proves that. I am delighted that you chose to share this part of your life for the Black & White theme!

    • Aw bless you, I got a bit soppy writing it! My brother has a wonderful pic of her as a young girl, with lovely long dark hair, looking like a beautiful fey gypsy – I must get him to scan it and send it to me.

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