Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Birthday Bangle: Weaving Heritage and History

The tale of this birthday bangle begins more than a century ago in the time when Kings and Queens ruled this tropical  Kingdom. . .


It was in 1887 during a visit to London by Hawaii’s Queen Kapiolani and Princess Liliuokalani to help celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, that they were given gold bracelets on which their names were engraved in Old English lettering and filled with black enamel.

KoOlina2013 003(Another version of the story says King Kalakaua was the guest of Queen Victoria in 1883 and she sent the  bracelet with him for Princess Liliuokalani.) 

Whoever had the bracelet liked it so much that once they got back to the Hawaiian Palace they had other jewelry made in a similar style to give as gifts. Thus began the tradition of Hawaii Heritage Jewelry.

Just last year during our visit here I complimented a store clerk on the several Heritage bracelets she wore, saying I’d considered buying one at Costco but that it was stamped, “Kuuipo” (Sweetheart) - and I hadn't liked it.

She quickly cautioned, “Don’t buy one of those! You must put a name on it yourself.” Which made no sense to me at the time.

VegasHawaii2012 119In the year that passed since that conversation I’ve learned that Heritage jewelry has been given over the decades by many Hawaiians to commemorate a life milestone: births, deaths, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, birthdays. 

A name is imprinted on the jewelry which is believed to carry the ‘mana’, the supernatural power that resides in a person, animal or object.

Basically Heritage jewelry becomes more than just a piece of silver or gold because it carries the spirit of the name imprinted on it and the wearer keeps that spirit close to them by wearing the piece of jewelry.

The Birthday Bangle

KoOlina2013 036Readers of Travelnwrite know that this is one of those birthday milestone years for me.   It’s one significant enough to warrant a Heritage bangle. . .

VegasHawaii2012 163
In Hawaii, it is believed that the spirit of a place
is carried in the spirit of its name.

The place we call our second ‘home’ is on the island of O’ahu and was once a fishing camp of Hawaiian aristocracy. It is said to have been a retreat for King Kamehameha. The area’s present day name was given it by a well-known religious leader, Rev. Abraham Akeka,of Honolulu’s Kawaiahoo Church, who called it:

Ko’olina ~ ‘fulfillment of joy’

KoOlina2013 037

It seemed a two-fold appropriate name –or  mana - for my birthday bangle. After all, fulfillment of joy seems to sum up our travel lifestyle and I like the idea of  keeping the spirit of this special place with me all the time.

VegasHawaii2012 271

KoOlina2013 038
KoOlina2013 035The bracelet’s Monarch pattern is a reminder of those Hawaiian ali’i who so long ago enjoyed these same lagoons along the island’s western coast as we do now (during at least a small portion of each year). 

The design I selected incorporates the ocean’s waves and our old friend “Honu” the sea turtle. 

As for its mana?  It’s there, that’s for sure. . . because when I look at the bracelet, this is what I see. . .


KoOlina2013 034

KoOlina2013 041

VegasHawaii2012 174

VegasHawaii2012 168

If you were designing a bracelet to carry a special 'mana' what would it have on it?

Aloha from Hawaii. . .

That’s it for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday. For more armchair traveling check out Nancie’s Budget Travelers Sandbox!

About  Hawaiian Heritage Jewelry:  My bracelet was made by the Honolulu Jewelry Company. They have no retail outlets, their office/factory is in a light industrial area near the Honolulu Airport. Their website:, 888-889-6986, Twitter or Facebook/honolulujewelry.  (With this company, not only could I customize the bracelet, but I met the four artisans who actually created it. . . and that makes it even more special!)


  1. Thanks you for the interesting article! As always, I enjoyed viewing the pictures...

  2. What a wonderful story and I too enjoyed the photos :)

    1. Glad you enjoyed the story Johanna! Hope you'll come back in the next few weeks for more Hawaiian stories.

  3. What a lovely way to celebrate your birthday Jackie. Your photos certainly show a fabulous Ko'olina. I can see why you love ti

    1. There really are pretty places to be found on O'ahu - far from the 'maddening (tourist) crowds" where you really can be off by yourself - which is very nice at times.

  4. I love how the bracelet carries the special spirit of a name. Names are important. Interesting story - and very pretty bangle.

    1. Thanks much, Sophie for visiting and taking the time to comment!

  5. Love Hawaii and the traditions we can still find if we look. The bracelet is a wonderful way to commemorate your birthday and a great way to remember your time in Hawaii.

  6. You are so right Debbie. They seem to be everywhere if, as you say, we take the time to look.

  7. That bracelet is beautiful! I want to have one now after reading its history and meaning. Beautiful island pictures too. I'd have a lot of orchides and other tropical flowers on my bracelet :)

    1. You could do that Mary - in fact it was difficult to decide between the Hawaiian plants design and then removing the flowers from this one so that I could have turtles! Hope you get one!

  8. Jackie, this is so beautiful. You have got me thinking about my next BIG one coming in about 3 years...I so love bracelets, and what I grand way to remember a special b-day. Maybe I should plan a trip to Hawaii and a bracelet buying excursion!

    1. I highly recommend such an excursion, Nancie! It eases you into the next decade by reminding you each day of how wonderful the last was!

  9. What a wonderful story. I love that you were able to customize the name and the design AND meet the artisans. You'll be reminded of the beautiful places in your pictures whenever yo look at it.

    1. I'll never forget the big smile on the man's face when I said, "You will put the word on it?" and he nodded his head. . .he was so proud of his part in making it.

  10. Happy Birthday, Jackie and what a wonderful gift. I think your transformation from malahini to kama'aina is complete. The bracelet is beautiful, made even more special by the sentiment and meaning. Enjoy the rest of your time in Hawaii Nei!


    1. Aloha Peter! If you've declared my kama'aina status then I know I have arrived! I've always told you that I believe I was a Hawaiian in some previous life!! Mahalo for your lovely comment~

  11. Oh, what a beautiful tradition, Jackie. I'm so glad you were able to get a bracelet to mark your special milestone. I love the way it's tied the special strands of your life together. Happy Birthday!

    What would I put on mine? Not sure but you're making me think about it now. Thanks, Jackie!


We have been having problems in recent weeks with our comment section and I am not quite sure how to fix it. Thanks for letting us know. Some comments have been coming in as emails, so I will respond to those as I get them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...