My Nana’s Gold Bangles

 

ANTONIA FEXAS, 1972, ON A CRUISE, WEARING HER FIRST BANGLE & THE TIFFANY WATCH
Nana's bangles on my wrist.

My grandmother, who died last year at ninety-six, was a major figure in my life and an important role model, especially in matters of style. In 1972, she decided to collect solid gold bangle bracelets. It made gift-giving effortless for my grandfather, and by 1978, she had acquired eight bangle bracelets…nine, if you count the Tiffany & Co. gold bangle watch…then abruptly stopped (she always prided herself on being tasteful, and she knew she’d never feel comfortable wearing more than that).

As kids, my cousin Steffi and I were fascinated by her armload of bangles. We would pore over them, evaluating which were our favorites. Nana had a lot of fine jewelry, but nothing affected us like the jangling of her bangle bracelets as she sipped her gin and tonic, served kourambiedes (a greek cookie) or hugged us. Is there anything more elegant than the sound of clinking gold? When Nana got older, in the late 80s, she felt that wearing all eight bangles was no longer suitable, so she chose to wear only her three favorites. For the next twenty years, I never saw the other five.

When she died, I wanted to reunite her collection, but I couldn’t find the missing five. I searched everywhere, and was terribly disappointed when they didn’t turn up. I resigned myself to being content with the three she loved the most, but it was hard to accept that the others were gone. After searching the house from basement to attic, I gave up. Cousin Steffi shared my disappointment. Like me, she looked forward to reliving our childhood bangle fantasy. Months later, when my family decided to sell Nana’s house, I returned to do some organizing. I remembered that Nana had a habit of hiding cash in the pockets of her jackets, so I went through her closets and, after a long and methodical hunt, was thrilled to find the missing bracelets in the pocket of a vintage Adolfo jacket. Within seconds, I called Steffi…who had no idea where I was…and exclaimed, “A joyous miracle has occurred!” Without missing a beat, she said, “You found Nana’s bangles!”

I’ve been wearing the bangles…ALL of them, of course…for the last few months, and nothing makes me happier or feel closer to my Nana than looking down and seeing them on my arm. She cherished these bangles, and I cherish them even more for the sentimental value they now possess and the effortless way they connect me to her spirit. Can you guess which one was everyone’s favorite? – ELISA

My Nana in 2005, wearing two or three of her bangles.

About Chelsea Girl Vintage

ELISA CASAS (that's me) was born and raised in New York City. I have a BFA in Photography from NYU and worked as a photojournalist and talent scout for major record labels before opening Chelsea Girl in 1993. I also owned Laurel Canyon Vintage, Clutch! and a popular cafe, City Girl Cafe. I star in the groundbreaking Sundance series, “Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys” with my best friend, David Munk.
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