The coolest girl in the class leaned over the desk, eyed the earrings of her shy classmate and pronounced: “They’re beautiful, even I would wear them.” It was more than a compliment, it was a kind of accolade, Silvia Aeschbach remembers the experience 40 years ago as if it were yesterday. And even if she only became a “jewellery girl” much later on, she has loved her grandmother’s earrings ever since she can remember. Not least because she never got to meet her grandmother and the jewellery is the only tangible reminder she has of her. And then, after moving house, Silvia Aeschbach couldn’t find the earrings anywhere. “I turned the whole house upside down,” she says. “And then did it all over again. But they were nowhere to be found.” At first she thought she was just missing the jewellery out of sheer nostalgia. Then she sensed the pain of the loss growing ever more acute. She could see them in her mind’s eye: the five stylised turquoise-coloured ceramic forget-me-not flowers entwined around a small gemstone, small and delicate and so typical of the late 19th century. And she made a decision: she would look for an identical pair, partly to stop the memory of her grandmother from fading.
“WE CANCERS ARE CONSIDERED SENTIMENTAL HOARDERS OF CHERISHED THINGS.”
Help from Facebook
The journalist started researching on the internet. She found similar pieces. But in one case an auction had just ended, in another the owner withdrew the earrings at the last second. It simply wasn’t working out with finding a replacement. "The project became something of a minor obsession,” says Silvia Aeschbach and smiles. Finally, she launched an appeal on Facebook. Numerous comments advised her to go to a goldsmith and have the earrings reconstructed. A journalist friend suggested she should try Carlo Mutschler at the Beyer Goldsmith’s Department.
She presented her ideas to Mutschler and took photos of the items she’d found on the internet with her to the meeting; there were no close-ups of her originals. But even so Mutschler was quick to realise: “Ms Aeschbach’s earrings must have been very small, as that’s how they were worn back then. Such proportions would seem strange today.”
In several conversations, the experienced jewellery expert discussed how jewellery is perceived and what the right proportions are, even when it’s worn as an understatement, and without further ado drew a quick sketch with five round turquoise stones and a brown diamond in the centre. Silvia Aeschbach was taken with this design, “although the earrings appeared quite a lot bigger than I’d imagined.” But she had confidence
in Mutschler’s artistic skill.
A few weeks later, the earrings were ready. Silvia Aeschbach put them on and looked excitedly in the mirror: “It was a strange moment,” she says: “I liked the result, but they just weren’t my grandmother’s earrings. Not just because they’re bigger, but also because they’re simply not the original.” But suddenly she liked this thought: no-one could bring the lost earrings back to her. Instead she was wearing a modern interpretation of them on her ear – a kind of homage
to her grandmother.
Writing instead of acting
Of course, she’s still secretly hoping that the originals will turn up again some time. “My star sign is Cancer; we’re considered sentimental hoarders of cherished things and memories. For me, it goes so far that I read parts of my old diaries to keep important events in my life alive. I deeply regret throwing away a lot of letters and diaries; but I couldn’t keep everything as I’ve always been a prolific writer.”
The love of writing became Silvia Aeschbach’s occupation in a roundabout way. “I was actually flirting with acting, but my parents advised me to train for a safe job.” So Aeschbach studied at the University of Teacher Education and worked as a
kindergarten teacher for two years before applying for an internship at a radio station. This led to 30 years of journalism, including stints as an editor at “annabelle”, as a presenter at Swiss television, as editor-in-chief of the women’s magazine “Meyer’s” and as co-editor-in-chief of “encore!”, the lifestyle magazine of the “SonntagsZeitung”.
It came to an abrupt halt at the age of 50. “I got a young boss who couldn’t cope with me.” The seasoned media professional had to embark on a new career path: “Isn’t that interesting? Here too, I was confronted with the issue of either mourning the old, the lost, or creating something new out of the memories.” Besides her columns, she also started writing books – with enormous success. Her second book, “Älterwerden für Anfängerinnen. Welcome to the club!" (2016), became a bestseller and for almost a year was the number one most popular Swiss non-fiction book.
Year by year, a further hit followed. Silvia Aeschbach has made it a nice little habit to reward herself for her books with a piece of jewellery. So it’s quite possible that she will drop in on Beyer’s workshop on another occasion.
Her journalistic career took Silvia Aeschbach (1960) from radio to television to the editorship of various magazines. She also has a string of successes to her name as a columnist for the “Coopzeitung”, as a blogger (“Von Kopf bis Fuss”) and as a book author (including “Älterwerden für Anfängerinnen”). Aeschbach lives with her husband and two dogs in the Enge district of Zurich.