The Story of “The Dowry” Earrings

by Maryanne Murphy.
(Atlanta, Georgia USA)

The creative drive. . . where does it come from?

The creative drive. . . where does it come from?

I just had an interesting experience in how the creative mind (mine) works and I have this wonderful blog just sitting here doing nothing that I thought it needs to be the repository of creative genius at work.

People often ask “how did you come up with that design?” My answer: “just happened.”

Well, it “just happened” and I am rather astounded at the process. and can actually document it. Not that it will help anyone in figuring out how to be more creative.

I have been working very hard at organizing my studio space for the last week. I’ve also spent months involved with a wonderful line of jewelry I love, but have been away from my gemstones which I have missed.

Last night, actually early this morning, until 7:30 a.m., I created 2 beautiful, classic in my style, black pearl necklaces. Ah, it was so nice to touch these beautiful pearls and admire their shinny deep luster.

It’s with this happiness I was about to embark on working with some gorgeous black agate that I’ve been dying to get my hands on for months. I have the design inside me and it’s just dying to get out.

I set out to create a lovely Grace Kelly type design that’s my style… nothing fancy or ornate. I am of the “less is more” school. Simplicity of design and all that.

I haven’t a clue as to how it happened, but instead my mind starts to wander into an out of body experience.

I don’t know which drawer I opened of the 200 that stare at me on my work space, or which lovely caught my fancy. But I was transported back into another time. Another place.

I was in a hot musty attic, rummaging through great-great-great-grandmother’s trunks. There had been talks of her exotic travels to the Orient and a great passionate love in India.

But digging through her trunk I found no evidence of these stories.

Not until I came to find a wad of beautifully embroidered exotic fabric.

I picked it up and noticed that it was wrapped around something heavy. Slowly and carefully I unwound the fabric, admiring its richness of design and artist’s skill until I found its treasure.

Lying in my hand was an intricately carved box with an intoxicating aroma that smelled familiar, but I didn’t know why.

It wasn’t for a while until I opened the box, and didn’t think I would find anything in it, but I sat down on the attic floor to better examine my discovery.

The first thing I saw was a very yellowed old piece of folded paper. I carefully lifted it out of the box, but the edges crumbled in my fingers.

I was wondering if this could be something written by my long-ago grandmother. How exciting it would be to read something that she wrote, maybe about the adventure of this box and fabric I had discovered.

As I cautiously unfolded the paper that was still fairly in one piece, I was shocked by what it said.

“These are her dowry. Please see that she gets them. If you are too late, treasure them always, as I have you.” Signed with a flourished “R.”

I was so engrossed with the note thinking it could be from that great lady of ages past it didn’t dawn on me that there was something else in the box. A dowry?

There was a beautiful ice-blue velvet piece of fabric looking at me. I ran my fingers across it enjoying is silky texture. So soft.

But I could also feel something underneath. I held my breath as I lifted it out of the box and carefully unfolded the fabric to reveal… the earrings that I was making.

This story was going through my head as I took first this piece and then that piece. Tried another. Ah, they fit!

Slowly reveling a scrumptious earring of a different time. A different age. A different place.

Something SO radically different from what usually comes through the creative force that’s within me.

It was like a puzzle. No, a compulsion.
To bring into being this exotic, elegant design of ages past into the present.

A 10mm white freshwater pearl.

Several small antiqued silver pieces building a story around it.

A sparkle here, a small textured ring balancing the shapes of three other pieces on top of it. There that works now.

No, no. Take it apart and do it again. Upside down.

The smaller one, then the larger and smaller again.

Ah, the flow of the shapes. The luster of the pearl. The many layers of intricacy.

A journey ended.

An earring luxurious and mysterious and beautiful enough to be a bride’s dowry and worn on her wedding day.

I’ve discovered that the creative process is a journey that an indescribable force takes one on, which draws from nothingness into small pieces of reality… revealing something that wasn’t here before.

Maryanne Murphy
On the Rocks Gemstone Jewelry


The Dowry Earrings
by: Rena

What a dreamy creative journey! I found it breathtaking. (Can someone turn this into a movie, please?) :o)

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful creative experience, Maryanne – and the lovely earrings that resulted from it!

A Creative Journey
by: Maryanne Murphy

Hi Rena!

Thank you so much for your kind comments and publishing this long story! I’m so glad I could take you on a journey which you enjoyed…that makes me sooo happy!

Someone told me that the earring looked Elizabethan, which I can totally see. But in my mind they came out of India. But they could have gotten there in Elizabethan times! How the creative mind can wonder.

I so LOVE your blogs and hungrily read and digest everything you present. I even have a Rena Klingenberg folder that everything of yours is saved in.

Thanks so much for bringing the jewelry making community together here.


Your story/journey
by: Kathleen Davis

Thank you for taking me on a journey to another time for just a moment. As I was reading your writings, I am not sure if you realize just how talented you are in this area. Your words came alive as I hung on to every word. If you wrote a book, I would buy it.
Thank you for the wonderul earrings and your talent that not only shows up in your jewelry but words that are imprinted on my mind. I was on the journey from the first sentence.

Storytelling grandeur
by: Patricia C Vener

What a wonderful tale!

The Dowry story
by: Dita

What a nice story. I love your jewelry too. Visited your Etsy store:)

Dita from

The Journey
by: Maryanne Murphy

Thank you Kathleen, Patricia and Dita,

For your lovely comments.

All jewelry we make has a story even though we may not know it at the time.

I’m so glad you journeyed with me on mine.

Writing for me is something that happens very sporadically. I wish I always had that gift to draw upon and when “it hits” I’m so happy to be able to share it here with Rena’s family.

What’s so ironic is that within 24 hours of the creation of these earrings and the story I received a commission for jewelry to be worn at an Indian wedding.

I will post the jewelry when I get some pictures of “Little Maharanis Jewels”.

Wishing you all a delightful journey of your own.


The Pearl Dowry
by: Kate

What a lovely story. Do put one with each of your pieces, that would be so cool.
Oh and the pearl is lovely too.

by: Anonymous

thanxx for sharing this with us

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  • Vickie Langley says:

    Most of your time should be used writing; you definitely have a talent for it. The story was so imaginative.

  • I too get the joys of premonitions, and journeys to the past. Beautiful earrings, I’ve actually been dreaming of doing something similar with moonstone pebbles myself. I work with a lot of natural gemstones also, but I prefer them in their raw form. I’ve never much gotten into pearls but this looks beautiful!

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