As I studied Maria’s story, I began envisioning a piece of jewelry that would commemorate the occasion of her taking the citizenship oath to become a U.S. citizen. I found myself focusing on the idea of a cuff bracelet, imaging it as something she would receive on that day and could wear to the ceremony. Wearing a large cuff bracelet on her arm that flashed and sparkled as she raised her hand to take the oath that day would make a powerful statement.
Consequently, I wanted the cuff bracelet to strongly convey Maria’s identity, from her childhood by the sea in Mexico to her choice of career in marine sciences to her decision to tie her future to the United States. When creating the bracelet design, I thought about Maria’s life—growing up by the sea, working on her father’s shrimping boat, studying ocean sciences, and ultimately choosing a career in that field. She is clearly deeply connected to the ocean, and I wanted the piece to reflect that connection without being too literal. As a result, I based the bracelet on a fishing net pattern that is evocative of her experience on her father’s shrimping boat, where she undoubtedly helped her father cast his nets into the sea and retrieve the day’s spoils from them. I sought to use all of the stones being provided by her children because they had been sourced from both her native and chosen homelands, so I sprinkled them around the bracelet, giving it an organic look as if the stones were little treasures that had been caught in the net. The Sea of Cortez pearl celebrates her childhood in Mexico, and the Montana sapphires honor the adult life she has forged in the United States.
I settled on creating the bracelet in 14k yellow gold to bring a warmth to the piece. When I think of the ocean, I think of sunlight falling on the waves and creating bright glinting patterns, and I wanted the piece to produce a similar effect. Even though the cuff is fairly large, thanks to its metal cutouts it is not unduly heavy and therefore is something Maria could wear regularly, whether she’s teaching, speaking, or traveling. It could even be an everyday piece for her, and one that—every time she glances down at her wrist—will remind her of the day she raised her hand and took her oath to officially become a U.S. citizen.
Emily Dubinsky is the owner of Emily Emmett Inc. in New York City.