Keeping the jewelry in the family

Published 6:31 am Monday, July 3, 2023

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Dear Aunty Pam,

I am just spitting mad at my sister and not sure where to turn. I’m hoping you can help!

“Ann” and I both inherited jewelry from our mother well over a decade ago. Mom had some fun costume stuff and also some nice pieces. She left Ann a small ruby ring with little diamonds on each side, a matching brooch, pearl earrings and a turquoise ring. I was given Mom’s engagement ring which was a half-carat diamond with two smaller diamonds on the side, two pair of gold earrings and an amethyst pendant. 

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Mom had said more than once that she didn’t care about the costume jewelry but she said she hoped the real jewelry would stay in the family as they were heirloom pieces. My sister has two daughters and she will be leaving her jewelry to them but I only have a son.

The big blow up happened because my son has proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Clare, and I asked him if he’d like the engagement ring I’d inherited to give to her. He loved the idea and Clare loves the ring, so everything was fine until my sister found out and she went ballistic. She said I had no business giving that ring to my son, that Mom said she wanted to keep it in the family and it should have been left to one of her daughters for their engagement ring. I said my son’s fiancé is ‘family’ and the ring IS staying in the family. She said in-laws aren’t ‘real’ family and what if they break up and she keeps the ring? I didn’t know what to say to that and she’s made me feel so guilty and defensive that I refuse to even talk to her. Am I crazy? Did I do the wrong thing?




Dear Frazzled,

Boy, howdy, it takes a special kind of person to take a generous, thoughtful gesture from one person and twist it into something ugly. It also takes unfathomable greed and pettiness. 

The fact that sister Ann would actually say that in-laws aren’t ‘real’ family and try to cop a prior claim to a ring that was—hello—given to YOU is laughable if it weren’t so infantile. Honestly, that is the very ‘young’ behavior she is exhibiting. Aunty Pam thinks there may be some unsettled feelings of sibling rivalry that is spurring this behavior from her, but you know something? That ain’t your problem, Frazz. You’ve kept your late mother’s wishes: you’ve kept the ring in the family by giving it to your son. 

In the meantime, I don’t blame you for giving Ann a wide berth at this time. Indeed she owes you an apology but that may never happen. Instead, focus on this lovely new daughter you’re welcoming into your family and share a bottle of something fizzy.


Cheers, dears!

Aunty Pam