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06 June 2007


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what a great tradition. I have a gold charm bracelet that I bought years & years ago and started to add to it as events happened in my life. Each time I wear it, I remember the good and sometimes not so good times, that each charm represents. Did you get yourself a gold ball necklace?

That's a lovely story Corey!

Patience. All in time. One gold ball is better than none. Even if you lose all your gold balls earned by simply living at least you still have the memories.

I had seen the gold ball necklaces and wondered about them. Thanks for enlightening me. Great post!

I remember this post and was pleased to read it again.

Taking the time to honor and commemorate "firsts"is one way to make life sacred.

I love love love all of your stories of your life in France and the photographs are divine.
Love you

I mark the family milestones with photographs. Nothing as luxurious as gold balls.
I recall a craze in North America a few years ago of small gold balls on a chain necklace, and everyone had them, but you don't see them now. I guess they were just a fashion statement at that time.

What a lovely custom and I'm sad to hear that it is no longer adhered to -- but that the full necklace is given at birth. Why oh why do we want to 'finish' before we have begun -- each moment should be savored and the gold balls should come to us as the event (and life) does - one 'ball' at a time!

like the add-a-pearl necklaces that used to be popular when I was little. I have one with three pearls; no one added after that! Perhaps I should, to honor my own firsts myself! Thanks for this post, Corey.

Standing on the platform at train station in Marseille, the first thing I noticed were those stairs!

I too have a charm bracelet that is packed. I keep intenting to separate the charms into two bracelets and give them to my daughters.


Funny, I hadn't thought of these necklaces in years. They were popular in my college with all the sorority girls. They were known as Add- A - {coarse word often used to describe sexual activity} necklaces.

Your story is much more charming and sounds like the original reason for these necklaces-- which I like very much.

Oh, I have une Grain d' Or... My Mother had one and I took it because nobody else wanted it...It is packed away but I will create a fanciful story behind each ball now that I have heard yours... Blssings, Rebecca

My daughter received a bracelet like this for her baptism, with an explication that this was a local style.

Oh how lovely! I must send this story over to my pregnant SIL who dreams in French! It is never too late to start one either, and as my daughter is still very young, I will start one for her with my jewelry-making supplies. Perhaps to save the prettiest baubles for each milestone she has already reached, then add on to!

All of my Norwegian great aunts had these when I was little. Mom laughs because all I remember about these old ladies is their hairy legs-they didn't believe in shaving-and the gold bead necklaces. I wear a charm bracelet that has charms from childhood on-including an Eiffel charm.

What a wonderfully sentimental story. I love it. How I wish we could hang on to these traditions !

I love your story! My story is not as romantic but fun in a quirky kind of way...My small group of friends and I had "issues"with turning 50....to ease the pain we decided to celebrate with fifty days of fifty. There were six of us turning fifty over a five year period...fortunately only two of us turned fifty the same year. The idea was that fifty days before the "birthday girl turned fifty...we would present them with a huge basket of fifty little presents...one to open every day...and then they would have to email us every day about what they got and how it applied to their day. The presents were little thoughtful gifts...like candles, kitchen utensils, hand written thoughts/stories, pictures, books, music, hand made pins, hanky sachets, recipes...you get the idea? At fifty you may think you are so over celebrating birthdays...but there is nothing like presents to change your mind! Since then we have helped our daughters celebrate thirty...They love it! Moral of the story...you can never have too many friends or too much love no matter what age you are becoming...:)

This was such a wonderful story- it made me wish that I had a childhood that honored my first steps into this great life. I guess all of them are caught up in the memories, however...

What a lovely tradition. I had never heard of it. When Italian charms became popular here, Don and I started giving these charms to Krista. Each charm has a special meaning. Then I started getting them. I need to take them out and start wearing them again.

I love that you are an inquisitive person, you love history and culture and best of all, you share your knowledge with us. I adore snippets into your past, how you came to learn and understand...I love the significance of these beads, what a culture!

I am happy that you republished this story. I missed it the first time around. As you so often do, you made me smile with your words.
I think it is sad that the girls are given a full necklace now. I've always thought that having something to look forward to is one of life's greatest pleasures, but that the most important way we honor any one of life's moments is to fully be present within it. Pay attention to it. Make it a memory that you can feel as well as remember.
Thank you Corey for taking the time to leave the kind words and for telling me that I am beautiful. I think you are beautiful too.

What a fun story, Corey! Growing up in the South, about 25 or more years ago, Add-A-Bead necklaces were all the rage. Same sort of thing...add beads for special occasions & then the thin gold chains would eventually get filled up completely with round gold balls. They were very pretty & I actually had one started, but now can't think of what happened to it. I have no idea! LOL

SOuthern Hospitality

Oh my lord, Corey, you crack me up! Poor French Husband! "God Balls"! Just what I needed to read this afternoon! Hah! I really like the idea of collecting gold balls (or something similar) for a necklace on every birthday. Did you start collecting gold balls for Chelsea when she was born?
You know, I never really celebrated firsts growing up - well, except for the Tooth Fairy coming to visit after I lost my first (and second and third and...) baby tooth. It's a great idea, though!


Hi Susanna

No I didn't buy Chelsea a necklace. We bought airline tickets back to California each year instead ;)

What a facinating story. I have to agree what fun is it if they give the baby girl the full necklace at birth. That takes the fun out of it! LOL!!

Thanks for sharing the wonderful story. And you are very observant. I probably wouldn't have noticed all of the gold necklaces.

This, too, reminds me of the add-a-pearl necklaces.

As a teacher, I've done this: every good thing, I put into a box. I put it in a box and when I feel like I am terrible at my profession or that I want to quit, I open that box and look at a little treasure from one of my students. I just got one from two girls, proclaiming me a favorite and so sad that I am leaving. So good, so sad, so lovely. My little grains of gold.

Sort of like an American charm bracelet. I'm glad you figured out the mystery. Here they would say "Gad balls" in my home state of Mass. it would be Gawd balls.

What a charming story Corey. I had missed it the first time around, thank you so much for posting it again.

Oh I love that, an add-a-bead necklace to commemorate those precious life passages! I'd never heard of that before, what a lovely thing.

How fascinating! I didn't know about this tradition. Is it specific to Marseille, do you know? I'm just back from the area around Nice and didn't notice any gold ball necklaces, but then I might not have the observant eye you do.

Hi Laura

You were in Nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Darn it, I wish we could have met. I live close to Nice.
Gold Balls are still around, not as evident as when we first moved here, but still around. The fashion is more relaxed and people are tending to were less GOLD...
The Gold Balls are a Marseille thing...The title translates "necklace of Marseille"

um, that's interesting. I suppose the American equivalent would be pearls or maybe a charm bracelett?

I did know there was a movie about Edith Piaf, (the girl who starred in it was in another movie I saw recently with Russel Crowe) but I don't believe it's been released in the US yet.
Thanks for visiting my blog, too!
God bless.

I have heard of that before.
I think it is kind of cool.
Maybe I should start an add a diamond collection.
I'm glad you liked my pink Eiffel tower.

To have something to aspire to would be better, as in receiving a gold ball with each stepping stone...rather than to have one handed to you before you could earn it.
I like the original meaning behind the balls. Beautiful.

I loved this story! It was funny, illuminating and charming all at once :)

The gold ball necklace you were seeing everywhere was an interesting "mystery" for you as someone new to the area to pick up on and persue! I started and "add a pearl necklace" for my daughter when she was born...maybe a Southern thing...? Our jewelers must have loved it!

I love hearing about traditions like this. We don't really have such traditions, other than photo's....stacks and stacks, album upon album for every first, second and on and on!!

In the UK it used to be a charm bracelet but now they are seen as a bit tacky. Nothing has replaced it but I love the idea of these gold balls.

Hi Corey! My friend does this for her daughters, except that she uses pearls. Too bad baby girls are now given the full necklace. It's so much nicer one "ball" at a time.

That is so cool a tradition. May all your " balls" be 24K

Hi Pat

Oh! All but two. Oh I cannot say that! Did I say that? No I didn't say that.


that was a great post. that's a shame the tradition has changed a bit, a large part of the meaning has been lost. kind of an allegory for modern life- we want everything now and full and complete dammit!

What a neat idea --- a lifetime of memories of milestones. Too bad that the tradition is starting to die and lose it's original meaning.

Always interesting to learn new things~I enjoyed this story today!

wow that's an interesting story! i love balls for necklace but i'd prefer pearls for gold... though if we have that kind of tradition, id definitely wear it with pride. thanks for sharing

what a lovely story...

Hubby did give me a ring with the birthstone of each child at their birth. I have a beautiful pearl and opal ring now. I plan on giving it to them when they are older.

You certainly made me LAUGH !! You are a funny, witty, whimsical lady... Thanks for the fun ! (I love France)- but have only been to Paris and Marseille (sp?). I'd love to see the other areas of countryside, and parts other than the big cities..... You LUCKY girl-

What an interesting tradition! I do have to agree with the woman you met. There is nothing special about just getting a gold necklace when you are born. It is like skipping through your life and not stopping to enjoy it every once in awhile.

WHY was I born round Lyon ???

a great tradition! love hearing about things like this!

I love this tradition. The small passages in life should be as celebrated as the bigger ones. I used to collect art glass marbles - one for each accomplishment, each conquered fear, each birthday. I've got a bowl full of marbles now to remind me that I've done a few things in my life.

I had to giggle at the "God balls!"

What a sweet and touching story.

I used to get charms to represent a time or event in my life... but, that kinda stopped. I will have to pich that up again.

You know, I have heard of this tradition done with pearls here in the States.

'God's Balls" Hahahaha


This reminds me of POP-ITS
Those plastic ball necklaces you could add to or subtract. They came in all colors.
No real gold though..

There is always something new I can learn from you Corey, I've never heard that goldball chain story before, it's very interesting!

Oh I positively adore this story! I love the thought of women of all ages adorning themselves with jewelry that represents their lives.

When I was a baby, my Grandmother purchased charms for me for each major event or Holiday in my life. I still wear the charm bracelet, and each time that I do I remember how much my Grandmother thought of me. When I was about 13, my father began a gold necklace for me. The necklace began as a simple chain, with one main gold ball. For each birthday he added another gold ball, or a semi-precious stone ball. I was never much of a gold wearer so the necklace usually sat in its special box and over time became forgotten. I don’t know when Dad stopped purchasing gold or stone balls for the chain, but I think I will have to dig the necklace back up again. Pieces from the heart should never just sit in boxes, don’t you think?

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