Making Descansos

Mourning Jewellry



Jet was popularized as a material for mourning jewelry by Queen Victoria, who wore the stone both in mourning for King William IV, her predecessor, and for her husband Albert. Jet was lightweight and easy to carve so it became a useful material for making the large brooches and necklace designs that were popular during the period.

My grief since the death of my soul mate, Darryl, may not be as conspicuous or as wide reaching as Queen Victoria’s but I feel empathy for her and understand why she wanted all the clocks to stop and for the world to notice that her loved one had gone.

Marion Marshall, goldsmith and silversmith designer, designed pieces of mourning jewellry for me. A pinch of Darryl’s ashes have been incorporated in to a tiny urn within this pendant which I now wear close to my heart every day. The gold band is my wedding ring and the necklace is made from hematite.


When I commissioned Marion Marshall to make mourning jewellry for me we set on an amazing pathway together. From the moment Marion and I met I knew that she was the right artisan for me and that she understood and felt empathy for my situation. Darryl’s long battle with bowel cancer and his death in January 2007, had devastated me and I needed comfort stones to act as a kind of rosary. All who know me know that I am not bound by religious dogma, know that I have stepped outside the square and place my faith in the universe of which I am a fragment. I am, essentially, a human who believes in the mystery of life.


My relationship with ravens began at LaTrobe Secondary College seventeen years ago. Perhaps they knew that the subsequent seventeen years would be filled with turmoil and came to support me.

At LaTrobe Secondary College. where I worked as an English teacher, I was aware that there was a colony of crows, or Ravens as they are sometimes called. These glorious black creatures soar down to the gum trees, watching, waiting for leftovers. Some folk believe that they are menacing but I have always been fascinated by them and always stop to acknowledge their presence.

At one stage I had my students observing them and using their observations as a prompt for writing. One Year 10 student undertook extensive research and found out about their prevalence in literature. He demonstrated that literature testifies that we were not the first to have looked to the heavens to watch the splendid Raven.

Many consider the Raven to be evil and sinister in character and there are numerous superstitions concerning them. Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’ describes the black bird as being grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, ominous, a tempter, evil, lonely, ancient and demon-like. However there are numerous instances where the Crow acted as a messenger and a guide. Ravens led the Boeotians to a place where they founded a new city; guided Alexander to the shrine of Jupiter Ammon in Egypt and later foretold his death;guided people from the island of Thera when they emigrated to Libya; a golden raven guided the Emperor Jimmu of Japan, in the 7th century A.D, as he marched to war; were, according to Aelian, a messenger of King Marres of Eygpt.

In ‘The Bible’ there are a number of references to the raven. In Luke 12V 22-24 it says Then Jesus said to his disciples “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about you body, what you will wear. Life is more important than food, and the body more important than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.” ‘In Genesis viii. 6-7 we hear that after forty days “Noah…sent out the raven which went forth and did not return until the waters dried up above the earth….”

The beautiful Raven guides my writing. It has become my totem, a symbol to express who I am and how I want to live. I like to believe that like the Raven I am a guide, a messenger, who leads others to find their unique voice.

I believe that the Raven carries the messages of my heart out into cyber space. Her blackness represents the notion of beginning, just as the symbols of the maternal night and primeval darkness represent beginning. For me the Raven represents creative power and spiritual strength.

When I sat by Darryl’s bedside at the Epworth hospital here in Melbourne, after he had been first operated on for bowel cancer, I noted the black crow that came to sit on the spire outside our window. She bought with her the collective energy of my patrons, people from all around the world who had stopped to think of us and pray for our well-being.

A solitary figure, the crow reminded me to look for strength from within, that out of darkness comes light and fresh beginning. Her iridescence spoke of magic and awakening.

From that day on the crows and ravens kept appearing in our lives and the mysticism surrounding their presence grew. During latter years I looked for them when we were going to the hospital, hoping that they would bring me courage. And they rarely failed me. One day, I drove the car to the hospital doorway to pick up Darryl and I could hear them in the tree nearby. Darryl pointed to them and told me my friends had arrived to watch over us.

When Marion untook her research she learned that the raven could be found at the top of the highest peak, and remained when other birds have gone for winter. We both felt that this captured my personal marathon, the determination to be there until the final moment. She also discovered that ravens form life long partnerships a quality which is captured in the pendant.


The urn, as a round-bodied vessel of containment is a symbol of the feminine. The urn with a lid a good luck emblem and symbol in Chinese Buddhism of supreme intelligence that triumphs over birth and death.


Symbolizes the sun and the round of birth and rebirth since its petals open at dawn and close at sunset. As it emerges unsullied from the swamp it is considered highly symbolic in the East.


When in direct contact with the skin jet was believed to become part of a person’s body and soul and to safeguard the wearer.


Teardrops and so very much more.


Hematite can be called a ‘stone for the mind’. It helps one to sort out things in ones mind and can be used for mental attunement, memory enhnacement, original thinking and technical knowledge. It assists one in mathematical pursuits and in the development of both mannual and mental dexterity.

Although this stone enhances mental capability it provides for a calming atmosphere concurrently, and, in addition, encourages on to ‘reach for the sun’. It helps one realize that the only limitations which exist are those self limiting concepts within the mind.

It is also capable of helping the body to remain cool or of dispelling heat at the physical level: one could use it on the forehead to draw heat from a fever.

Hematite facilitates balancing of the ying and yang energies, utilizing, in addition, the magnetic qualities of the energy to balance the meridians within the body and provide a stable equilibrium between the ethereal nervous system and the physical nervous system.

Hematite assists in the focusing of energy and emotions for balance between the body, mind and spirit. It also assists in the dissolution of negativity, transforming the negativity in the dissolved state, to the purity of the universal light of love. It can be used to stimulate the desire for and facilitate the attainment of peace, self control and inner happiness. It is also conducive to enabling one to enter into a loving relationship. It has been said to attract ‘kind love’.

Hematite helps one to attain a ‘soft’ meditative state, providing for smooth grounding and bringing tranquility and emotional clarity.

from Love is in the Earth by Melody.

22 Comments so far
Leave a comment

It is so beautiful, Heather. What a lovely way to keep Darryl close.

Comment by Chefleur

This is lovely, Heather.

Comment by Lori

Absolutely glorious, full of meaning. Balm for the heart, I think.

Comment by imogen88

this is really beautiful

Comment by traveller2006

It’s gorgeous and very symbolic. I love the idea of Darryl’s ashes hidden snugly inside the pendant and worn close to your heart. Mourning jewelry is a wonderful I idea that I’ve never heard of before. I hope it soothes you, Heather.

Comment by soultide

This is simply gorgeous – how perfect and touching is that heart shape.

Comment by gailkav

:-ing. Thanks everyone! I intend to write up some more on this page about the symbolism and the healing qualities of Hemotite which is what the chain is. And that is my wedding ring remodelled to hold the pendant. Exquisite really and, having seen the jet in it’s original state I must bow to Marion’s supreme skill at sculpture. The bird are almost living.

Comment by Heather Blakey

Close to your heart. Darryl literally will be close to your heart now. So fitting for such a love. Its an extraordinary piece of jewelry, Heather. I hope it offers you a measure of peace.

Comment by Bo

Oh, Heather, such a beautiful piece. I’d not heard of mourning jewellery either, but what a wonderful idea.

Comment by Vi

Heather, are the ravens’ eyes pearl or some other gem?

Comment by lorigloyd

Such a beautiful and touching idea. Of all the things you own, I’m sure you’ll treasure this the most. Darryl would love it.

Comment by Believer

This has been made with such sensitivity and love. I’m sure it must be a real comfort to hold this close to your heart. And hemotite is beautiful, very grounding – i have a piece which i carry when i feel I’m going to blow away. A beautiful piece – thank you for sharing this.

Comment by peacebird

This is simply beautiful, Heather. The idea and the piece, both, are wonderful.

Comment by She Wolf

Dear Heather,

The peace is just beautiful.!


Comment by Patricia

I am so pleased that you all approve. It really is a beautiful piece and caused a stir in Marion’s circles. She put her heart and soul in to this piece and it most certainly shows. They eyes are pearls from Queensland Lori. Some time soon I will add a full description of the meaning and symbolism and will showcase my ring when I have a good photograph of it.

Comment by Heather Blakey

The extra details are meaningful, Heather. It makes you wonder how just because something is made to be bad, people see it that way. I can understand it with other things, but ravens? I’ve never seen ravens do anything ugly. I just don’t get that, how they came to get this image. Either way, honouring them in this piece, gives them their kudos back…

Comment by imogen88

Heather, coincidently as I sit here reading this, at 7 a.m. my time on a Sunday morning, there is a crow cawing right outside my bedroom window and a companion in the distance calling back. It’s as if they are saying “Yes! Everything she has written about us is true!”


Comment by lorigloyd

Heather, these new descriptions make the symbolism all the more vivid. Perfect.

Comment by imogen88

Heather, I to have thoughts, for the one I cannot let go, hanging on to the last moments of touch once felt, words no longer heard. With constant realization of the pain and suffering he no longer endures, helps me in coping with him gone……….but never forgotten……..I am his sister, and have overwelming commitment to honor `Mem’ry’ of Loved ones who past…Thank you for the beautiful site of encouragement, and the strentgh of your wisdom.

Comment by JBeaan

Heather…this piece is just so beautiful. I discovered your web site..because I wanted to find out whether my feelings were correct. My father while alive used to feed the crows. After his death..when I hear a crow I think of him. My mom is 87 and has been ill and is becoming more frail. Hearing the crows outside my window this morning makes me think that it is my dad saying she will be with him soon. Thanks for the article.

Comment by Linda Fandrich

Thank you for sharing such a touching memory. What a wonderful way to remember him. I was wondering if you would ever consider selling one of your crow/heart pendants, please? My daughter raised a crow many years ago and has such a special place for them in her heart! Please let me know when you get a chance. Thank you!

Comment by christine

Peace be unto you. As someone once said, the hurt never goes away – you just learn to carry it. kerry

Comment by kvwordsmith

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