Telling tales with jewelry

This post originally appeared November 2, 2012, on An Eclectic Author.

I love to tell stories. Sometimes I tell them with words, sometimes with glass, wire and broken pocket watches.

I’m an author and a jewelry designer, and I’ve been doing both for as long as I can remember, drawing picture books and stringing beads by the age of 4. In elementary school, I twisted colored wire into bracelets and rings. In junior high, I wove bracelets with embroidery floss or made friendship tokens with beads and safety pins. I published my first short story at the age of 17, around the same time I began using my dad’s pliers to repair and refurbish old jewelry.

I have a fascination with the stories associated with adornment. In my youth, I spent hours looking through my mother’s jewelry boxes. She had nothing of real value – no gold or gems – but it was a magical treasure chest of memories, hopes, dreams and love.

“This belonged to my grandmother.”

“I’ve had this one since high school.”

“You father gave this to me…”

Jewelry is a scrapbook, a story, and a secret language. A wedding ring says we’re married. A religious symbol expresses our values. There’s the jewelry we wear to the office to say we’re serious and professional. Or there’s the jewelry we wear in the evening to feel sexy and have fun.

I enjoy creating steampunk jewelry because it’s full of stories. Who would wear a necklace made out of clockwork? A time traveler? Mad inventor? Airship pirate captain? I take my inspirations for jewelry design from stories such as Something Wicked This Way Comes, Somewhere in Time, Time Machine and the sci-fi western Firefly.

My jewelry designs are featured in art books and jewelry also makes its way into my novels. My alien Glin wear soul stones – rocks found with natural holes or notches and tied to a cord around the neck. They keep these stones with them all of their lives, and when they die, their families pass the stones on to their descendants, believing that souls are reborn into the same family, again and again.

The only time a Glin will give away his or her soul stone is when they meet their nagyx, or soul bound – what we would call a soulmate. This connection is considered unbreakable and more than marriage. In Stellarnet Rebel, Duin gives his stone to a human news blogger, Genevieve O’Riordan, who shares his passion for saving his people from mysterious, water-thieving invaders.

In the sequel, one of the characters is shot during an attempted theft of their soul stone. I won’t tell you which one, you’ll have to find out in Stellarnet Prince, available November 12 from Carina Press.

~ J.L. Hilton

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