Re-Enchanting My Sardinian Grandmother's Wedding Ring

by Marina Dessi

MEA AYAYA is about one very special kind of love...

MEA AYAYA in Sardinian means “my grandmother.” Mine was such a romantic woman, an Italian seductress! A world famous card games cheater and a lion with an inner fire. We always spent hours on the phone, sharing our joys and heartbreaks. Every time I came to visit her in Sardinia, she would start cooking five days in advance… No way to escape from her delicious and overflowing Tupperwares. It is now almost a year that she has been gone… She must have had an important UNO card game to win up there!

The very last time I saw her, she held me in her arms and gave me her wedding ring: a golden filigree ring that I have always seen on the fingers of the women in my family. A wonderful piece of craftsmanship, gold embroidery and delicate jewel, with which I immediately felt in love.

I always remember that every night ‘mea ayaya’ used to tell me, over and over again, the very special legend of this particular filigree ring :

“My dear Marina, this ring is magical. It is said that a man, deeply in love, had to address the Janas - the little fairies in the hills of Sardinia - and obtain their blessing to declare his love. Then, the Janas wove a ring of gold and silver threads for him, like this one, which he would then put on his beloved's finger. It is said that the vein of love, that leads directly to the heart, is hidden in the left ring finger. The pale and mysterious Janas, intermediaries between the divine and human world, are still out there, down the hills, weaving the thread of love between lovers. And I am pretty sure that one day you will receive yours, your filigree ring, made by them, from your lover.”

I could not let all my precious memories with ‘mea ayaya’ vanish. I had to find my own way of grieving, but mostly find a way to pay homage to her love. I decided to re-enchant her wedding ring in order to continue our special bond, and to ensure the permanence of this traditional Sardinian jewel.

So, I decided to drive through the island I thought I knew by heart, aiming to find the people that would help me build and realise my dream. The very first workshop I happened to walk in (by chance!) belonged to two goldsmiths who were the sons of my grandmother’s dear friends. They used to come every Sunday to taste her famous pasta. There, I discovered an astonishing craftsmanship and an incredible know-how: the art of filigree. I soon realised that the filigree ring I had received from my grandmother was handcrafted in this exact same workshop! That is the exact day when everything started to make sense for me. All the pieces of the puzzle suddenly gathered. It was the first day of the MEA AYAYA adventure!

I really wanted to keep at the heart of this project the infinite bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter. So, for the launch of the brand, I asked sixty women (from around the world) to talk about their beloved grandmother and the iconic jewel that embodied their personality. Thus, each piece of jewellery in this first MEA AYAYA collection bears one of their nicknames to celebrate their love.

I thought, for Valentine’s Day this year, it would be wonderful to celebrate not only our “lovers,” but to remember and cherish this very precious love, this special bond we do not often talk about in the fashion industry, nor in the media,: the infinite grandmother’s love.


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