History Comes Home
Many years ago, an older gentleman came into William J. O’Neill’s Sales Exchange, a family-owned and operated collateral loan broker and jeweler located in Patchogue. The man had grown up in Brooklyn, as had the company’s namesake William J. O’Neill, and had tokens from the Silver Dollar Saloon, a tavern in Williamsburg once owned by William’s father. The man was moving and had been packing things up when he came across these unique tokens and couldn’t help but think the family might want them. He was right.
The tokens weren’t much to look at—simple, brass with O’Neill written in an arc across the top and a 5 or 25 in the middle. The trinkets had no monetary value as the man explained, but were drink tokens redeemable at the Silver Dollar Saloon for a pint. The kindhearted gift was accepted as they were a piece of a family’s heritage. Into a drawer they went, waiting to meet the day when their story would meet a fashionable new beginning.
In Steps an Artisan
Anyone who knows the current owner of O’Neill’s, William’s youngest daughter Veronica, knows she has exquisite taste as well as an eye for design. While the business specializes in short term collateral loans on jewelry, those who patronize O’Neill’s know they do far more than that. With estate pieces and contemporary pieces, there are items for every buyer’s taste. They offer jewelry repair services with the assistance of master artisans and jewelry appraisals. And, not least of all, they are ready for custom design work, including bridal services. But not just for the first “big day” either. From engagement to anniversaries, from the ring exchange to the remounting and resetting, O’Neill’s works with clients to create stunning, special items to last a lifetime.
It’s no surprise that when Veronica was introduced to Michael Bondanza’s work at a jewelry trade show, ideas began to flow. The pieces created by the self-taught artisan are sophisticated, innovative, award-winning and imaginative. Each one is masterfully crafted by Bondanza in New York with great precision and attention to every detail to create truly custom and stunning jewelry. His internationally-recognized talent unites signature pieces with discerning clientele with designs ranging from the simple to the spectacular.
The idea isn’t new: coins have been used as adornment since…well, since as long as coins have existed. They were commemorative or decorative for soldiers, they’ve been souvenirs, symbols of wealth, history, sentiment and beauty. Bondanza’s Heritage Collection, using Greek, Roman and Early American coins, allows individuals to blend a current trend with a historical trend to bring their individual taste and fashion sense to an object traditionally used as currency. He fuses art with treasure through his artisanal work to bring coin jewelry into high fashion.
From Desk Drawer Debris to Conversation Piece
After the trade show, Veronica began working with Bondanza on custom bridal pieces, drawn to their exquisite, high-quality engagement rings. Coming across the tavern tokens in a desk drawer one day, she got to thinking…Could these keepsakes be transformed by Bondanza into wearable pendants?
Indeed they could.
That simple choice, to share her heirlooms with Bondanza’s expertise, enabled her to take high-sentiment objects and wear them as high-fashion pieces that retain the connection to her father and grandfather. These pendants are now historical family treasures and a real conversation piece.
Since that initial work with Bondanza, O’Neill’s has also commissioned pendant work to transform simple Irish coins into lucky charms. But coin jewelry as wearable history can have many points of inspiration.
Is Wearable History for You?
Not all of us have folks walk in the door, literally, with family heirloom coins that can be transformed into custom jewelry. Each of us though has life experiences that lend themselves well to the concept of having “wearable history.”
Coins may commemorate a memory. Think study abroad experiences, a honeymoon to Italy, a trip to Britain for a royal wedding, business trips to exotic places, family vacations, cruises, layovers, church missionary trips, disaster relief volunteering or even that year you decided to try Eat, Pray, Love for yourself.
Or maybe your inspiration is something less travel oriented. Coins may signify origins like your 23andMe test results saying you’re 1⁄2 Portuguese, 1⁄4 Irish and 1⁄4 German. It could be currency from grandmother’s trip to the old country or the country of origin for an adopted child. The list is endless.
Don’t have coins but interested in coin jewelry? No problem! O’Neill’s and Bondanza have coins and coin jewelry available for your consideration and customization.
Don’t keep these stories in a drawer. Help them find a home in your jewelry box, and in your future family heirlooms, by coming to the Bondanza Bring Your Own Coin (BYOC) event and trunk show at William J. O’Neill Sales Exchange on July 7 from 11am to 7pm. Let us help you transform trinkets into treasures and coins into custom jewelry at this exciting BYOC event.
Coin jewelry is enjoyed and cherished for generations. O’Neill’s and Michael Bondanza look forward to being part of your story.