Here's a picture of the chain:
Turns out it's an Albertina chain. These were named after Queen Victoria's husband and were apparently popular in the mid to late 1800s - so our weird little chain is an antique! O.o
It took me a while to get around to it for reasons I can't quite pin, but yesterday I took all the 'more likely to have value' jewellery to a jeweller to have a look at. Seems the eye appraisal done for me by the lovely tyellas was pretty accurate, and he ranked the various things in order of value for us, which was helpful.
He also advised that selling gold jewellery to gold buyers is a bit like selling your old car to a wrecker - they'll give you bottom dollar for it to melt it down into ingots. He suggested that the best place for the kind of thing we have is TradeMe, because it has the widest audience of people interested in actual jewellery. So off I trotted with my newfound knowledge and checked out what things are worth there. I've decided to go about this round a bit more slowly, because getting a whole bunch of emails going "Hey I paid $5 for your thing, please prioritise my wishes!" was making me a bit nuts. This time, I'll only be listing a couple of things at a time, and they'll be more expensive items.
So last night I listed the Albertina chain (steampunks ahoy!) and my wedding rings, which have sat in a matchbox since 1998 and have absolutely no emotional value for me, on TradeMe. And I used this jewellery-cleaning stuff Mum had on the rings and it made them go all sparkly and shiny-looking!
And I fought against that feeling of being a vulture again. Weirdly, I didn't feel like that about the garage sale, but that was just stuff-of-life whereas this stuff is treasure and for some reason I feel differently about it. grist and I have no emotional attachment to any of it - it wasn't/isn't ours, really. Neither of us is big into jewellery, and in terms of investment, gold's pretty up there in price right now. And while things are sometimes kept as heirlooms, we're both kind of going "Um, we have no idea who these people were, there's no identifiable way of attaching them to anyone we are or have been close to, and when the time comes for The Kid to inherit, we'd rather he got stuff that had meaning."
We never had a conversation with Mum or Dad about what has meaning in family terms, therefore we've no clue. We have the old prayer book which we'll keep - it at least has names in it in a direct line from purchase to us, all family. But the jewellery? Not so much. There's a signet ring with the initials "L.M." on it, and my paternal grandmother's maiden name was Milsom, but her name was Emily so I don't know who "L" was. Time to drag out the old genealogy books, I guess.
So yeah, even though logically I know I'm doing what Mum wanted and that it's all very rational, there's a part of me that isn't so rational and logical that just wants to put it all in a box and leave it for the next generation to sort out, and I have to grit my teeth every time I think about swapping Mum's treasures for money.
But it's also quite exciting in that I'm learning a whole lot about a variety of things I would never had learned about otherwise.
I guess this goes into the category of Advice For Those Whose Folks Are Still Alive - number one, treasure them and show them how much you love them as often as you can. Number two, have that conversation even if it's hard, about the things they will leave behind and what of those things should stay in the family. Also, while you're at it, find out your grandmothers' maiden names and who their parents were. Because you never know when you might want to find out more about your family.