Dad was a Mason? What now? Fraternal jewelry and all that jazz.

bo0t0auxWhat should you do with the fraternal jewelry you come across in the estate you’ve inherited? By “fraternal jewelry” I mean Masonic rings, sorority and fraternity pins, military academy rings, lapel pins, and other logo items that have special meaning to a particular organization. Fraternal groups ask that all such jewelry be returned to the organization, since these items shouldn’t be worn by anyone except their members.

Drop the piece in a padded envelope and mail to the local chapter or national headquarters or service academy. You’ll get nothing for it (except thanks and a good feeling), so if there is a precious stone in the ring, for heaven’s sake, have it removed by a jeweler. If the item is gold or silver, you may prefer to sell it for meltdown. 

Fraternal organizations are also grateful when you return other logo items such as caps, fez, books, and papers. I think of this as a way to honor the deceased, who no doubt valued these items very much.


About Mary Miley

I was born at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, where my father taught tactics to the cadets, so it's no surprise that my earliest memories are of the Corps drilling on the parade grounds to the rhythm of the Army band. I attended public schools in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and France, then worked my way through the College of William and Mary in Virginia as a costumed tour guide at Colonial Williamsburg, experiencing first hand the pleasures of wearing 18th-century attire during the sweltering summer. After putting my husband through law school selling cheese in Cleveland—aw, come on, it was a recession!—I returned to Williamsburg for a masters degree in history and a full-time job at Colonial Williamsburg, working with antiques and reproductions. It was there that I really learned how to write and how to make history come alive. When my children were young, I left Williamsburg for a thirteen-year stint teaching American history and museum studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and at the same time consulted with museums across the country on matters retail and financial. A free-lance writer since 1986, I have published a dozen nonfiction books and more than 200 magazine articles, most on history, travel, and business topics. During the past few years, I've branched into fiction, writing the first two of a mystery series and a romantic suspense, all set in the 1920s. The first, THE IMPERSONATOR, won the national contest for Best First Crime Novel and was published in 2013 by St. Martin's/Minotaur; its sequel, SILENT MURDERS, came out in 2014. I live in Richmond, Virginia, with my husband, an attorney. My greatest pleasures are traveling, playing the pipe organ with all the stops out, and reading mysteries.

Posted on February 16, 2013, in Jewelry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. That was something I hadn’t considered before…will pass this on to some people I know…

  2. Be aware that Masonic lodges are nonprofit organizations. As such if the item has value you should be able to deduct the item from your taxes too.

  3. Late comer to this conversation! I too am a military brat – born at West Point. My husband is a mason and we are looking for a vintage ring – one that he can put back into service. Interestingly – they are more and more difficult to find. One jeweler explained that families are selling them for the gold – thus they are being destroyed. It’s sad really – because they do have heritage and history. I admire your recommendation.

  4. As a Mason, I would recommend finding your late father’s lodge and give it to them. Most times, as with my lodge, we will have a display case of items from brothers that have passed on as keep sake for their life and achievements. And from time to time, when the need fills you, you can return to the lodge to see it, and think back on him with fond memories.

    Son of Mason, who was son of a Mason, who was son of a Mason.

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