Prenoa's sixpence necklaces remain one of the strongest products we offer. So please pour yourself a cuppa and let me share the story of how they came to be and what is new for 2022.
In 2015, I began working up a collection of British sixpences and learning more about them. Worth six pence (or 6d as it was known) in 'old' money here in the UK, the sixpence has an amazing heritage and there are so many songs, ditties and traditions associated with this little coin, which up until the early 20th Century, were minted in solid sterling silver.
Throughout the years, you could buy a lot for a sixpence. It was often a sign of great favour when given to a child for their Christening, as for some, it could feed a family of four. As the years rolled on and inflation grew, the sixpence became small change, but that doesn't mean that it always was - some solid silver sixpences have pieces missing from them, where people have not had small change and cut the coin instead to make smaller weights of silver to pay for their wares.
Sixpences were produced for public circulation for the last time in 1967. After that, they were made as special editions or part of what are known as 'proof' sets, like the 1970 sixpence. These are commemorative creations by the Royal Mint, and often form part of a set with other denominations of coins, like threepences, half pennies and pennies. By 1971, we had moved to the decimalised system here in Britain. It was a bit of a strange time my parents tell me, as there were no longer 240 pence in one British pound, but only one hundred, and often people gave payment in new money but received old as change whilst the new system took over. We still use 100 pence-pounds today (51 years later).
Fast-forward to 2015 and there I am in my little house in Stamford finding new ways to share these relics with you. I wanted to not only encapsulate the stories and traditions of sixpences, but also elevate it with my own twist. Finding that my buyers loved the idea of a coin necklace with a birth year on it, I began creating designs that catered for this. Being a jeweller that used pearls, beads and stones, it made sense to come up with an accompaniment that would sit alongside the coin to embellish it with colour and meaning.
This is when the 'signature' Prenoa design was born - a teardrop crystal and a freshwater pearl. The teardrop is a symbol from many cultures of hope; think of dew dripping off a leaf at first light, tears of joy, rain after a drought. The freshwater pearl is a symbol of peace, purity and wisdom because of the way it is formed slowly and gradually, like our characters, over time.
This has now evolved into a diamond shaped Swarovski element, which due to their variation of colour and birthstone qualities, have been a really wonderful addition to the collection and a favourite since launch in September 2015. In 2018 the crystals changed size but the idea has remained the same.... your sixpence necklace features the year, the month of birth or anniversary and a token of wisdom and purity which (we hope) we gather along the journey of life and add to each day.
And now, these little necklaces have enjoyed a revamp. Still the same meaning that you know and love, but with lighter chains, smaller bails and the most dreamy quality pearls that have ever featured. The rolo or link chains are a response to the trend of layering which began around a year ago. Having several necklaces with stepped lengths is a really attractive way to collate lots of chains that mean a lot to you. So the rolo chains are lighter than the snake chains, less solid and so I am told, twinkle when worn because of their many individual links. The smaller bails allow the coin to stand out and it also sits slightly closer to the chain so it won't get wrapped or caught. The pearls are sourced from a supplier (UK based of course), who operates within welfare standards that I am happy to endorse. Oysters are, after all, living creatures and if I buy my eggs organic from roaming farms, then I would like my pearls to be ethical too! And to top it all off, I have printed new gift cards which describe how special a Prenoa piece is and the significance of the coin itself. This often sits inside the gift box so it doesn't ruin the surprise of opening.
Overall, the design is more sophisticated than every before, carrying the same heartfelt meaning with only quality materials.
I really love making subtle changes to designs as the years go on and I know a lot of buyers are not here for the first time so it is important that you see me constantly evolving, whilst doing that I am known for. It is my hope that the new interpretation, trialled last year will be as very bit popular as they have been in previous years.
The new sixpence necklaces can be orders in years 1953-1967 including the milestone 60th year of 1962. These feature Queen Elizabeth II and are also perfect as a 70th Platinum Jubilee piece too. Each birthstone for 2022 is available to purchase and custom orders are always welcome.