The story of Hoomanao Mau, the first Hawaiian bracelet

Told by Philip Rickard



This story has taken over a hundred and forty years to be told and it has lived with me for many years.

If you have any knowledge of Queen Lili’uokalani, last reigning monarch of Hawaii, I am sure this story will be an important one for you, as it was for me.

While yet as a young girl in her twenties, the future Queen Lili’uokalani had fashioned two bracelets. On one were the enameled letters “Hoomanao Mau” (“A Lasting Remembrance”, or “Always Remember” in English) and the other “R. Naiu” (“Royalty, the Lofty Ones”). These two bracelets were sold at auction when Queen Lili’uokalani passed away, and promptly disappeared for over a hundred years…

In researching my book “Hawaiian Jewelry - A Lasting Remembrance”, I found quite quickly that the often-repeated story that the Queen’s bracelets were given to her by Queen Victoria of England was false. Another explanation had to be found.

During the next six years, I researched the history of the jewelry, properly named in England as “English Mourning Jewelry”, and transformed by Queen Lili’uokalani into a cultural jewelry, then popular, and then vogue. In frustration at having not located the bracelets, I ran an ad in the paper seeking information for them. During that time

I discovered that a European jeweler living in Hawaii in the 1860’s was making the enameled bracelets, and most likely fashioned Queen Lili’uokalani’s bracelets. His name was Christian Eckart.

Miraculously I received two calls from my ad, one from a lady who directed me to the original Hoomanao Mau bracelet, and the other who said that she had the R. Naiu bracelet in her safety box but would never bring it forth. She also said that she did not know what the words meant, I told her most probably “Royalty, the Lofty Ones”. Sometime later after phone calls and conferences, the lady who had the Hoomanao Mau bracelet came in to my store.

It seemed to me when I first saw the bracelet that it had a halo around it. So strong was its glow to me that I would swear to its presence. Certainly, after my six years of research and searching for this bracelet, it was indeed a treasure before me. The lady who came to me had the bracelet and I had the story of it. I made an agreement to photograph and own the photographs, and meticulously measured the bracelet. While doing this, I noticed a crack in the bracelet, which looked ominous, and told the lady that the bracelet should not be worn. When we had finished, she asked me if I wanted to buy the bracelet from her, as I had such a high opinion of it. I declined, saying that I believed it was a true Hawaiian artifact, and should be perhaps not owned by myself, an English Jeweler. She explained that she had a daughter, who would need lifetime care and the money would be used for her. She, I believed would have preferred to sell it. I told her to wait until the book came out, the bracelet would have a written background, and be worth more. She said she would, then put the bracelet on, and left.

Some two days later, this same lady called to say the bracelet had cracked all the way through, and would I repair it. It was then that I knew that the bracelet had waited all those years for its story to come out, and then after my research, and pictures, relaxed, and broke apart…

I told the lady that it was not my place to mend what had naturally come apart on this historic piece.

Excited with the story, and wanting to share it, I called a television station. They asked me to come down to do an interview. The lady with the bracelet was called in also. The station interviewed me for perhaps forty minutes and told me to watch the evening news. During those forty minutes I relayed the frustrations of the research over the six years, and the excitement of finding the bracelet, and bringing the story to the world. What followed next was a nightmare that has kept me from releasing any more information on the bracelet and subsequent findings. For on the evening news, my tale of research and findings turned into an opportunistic attempt by a jeweler to make money from a Hawaiian artifact. The whole interview had been chopped and cut to portray me as an opportunistic “Haole”. The lady who owned the bracelet was encouraged to give the bracelet to a museum, dashing her hopes for funding for her daughter. 

After that, I have avoided the press, particularly the reporter, and devoted my life to the manufacture of the finest Hawaiian Heirloom Jewelry available. It was impressed on me that as this first bracelet was made and emblazoned with the words “Hoomanao Mau”, (“A lasting Remembrance”), that the jewelry should be made that way. In truth, the original bracelet was thick and well made.

I never heard from the lady who owned the bracelet again and hope she has done well. It was a lesson for me at how life’s twists and turns take us to places we would have scarcely dreamed.

Over the last 38 years we have worked hard to raise the Hawaiian Scrolling Designs, and the Jewelry itself to “World Class Status” that on first sight to me was unusual and personal, and in its research and manufacture has become one of the great loves of my life.

Eventually as I had to reflect on our future and the future of the Jewelry that we love so well I decided to release the rest of the story on the “Hoomanao Mau” bracelet, the meanings of its symbols, and the “Prayer of Lili’uokalani,” to the world, that its story may uplift those who will find some measure of kindred spirit in their own hardships in life, and a prayer to sustain them. 

Philip Rickard








まだ20代の少女だったリリウオカラニ女王は、2つのブレスレットを作った。ひとつには「Hoomanao Mau」(「A Lasting Remembrance」、英語では「Always Remember」)、もうひとつには「R. Naiu」(「Royalty, the Lofty Ones」)というエナメル文字が刻まれていた。この2つのブレスレットは、リリウオカラニ女王が亡くなったときにオークションで落札され、その後100年以上も姿を消していた。 


その後6年間、私はこのジュエリーの歴史を研究した。イギリスでは "イングリッシュ・モーニング・ジュエリー "と呼ばれていたこのジュエリーは、リリウオカラニ女王によって文化的なジュエリーに生まれ変わり、やがて流行となった。そのブレスレットが見つからなかったことに苛立ち、私は新聞に情報を求める広告を出した。その頃











その話に興奮し、それを伝えたいと思い、私はテレビ局に電話した。テレビ局は私にインタビューに来てほしいと言った。ブレスレットの女性も呼ばれた。テレビ局は私に40分ほどインタビューし、夕方のニュースを見るように言った。その40分の間に、私は6年間にわたる調査の挫折と、ブレスレットを見つけたときの興奮、そしてこの物語を世に送り出したときの興奮を伝えた。その後、ブレスレットとその後に発見されたことに関する情報をこれ以上発表できないようにする悪夢が続いた。夕方のニュースで、私の調査と発見の物語は、ハワイの工芸品で金儲けをしようとする宝石商のご都合主義に変わってしまったのだ。インタビューはすべて、私が日和見主義的な "ハオレ "として描かれるようにカットされていた。そのブレスレットを所有していた女性は、そのブレスレットを博物館に寄贈するよう勧められ、娘のための資金を得るという彼女の望みは打ち砕かれた。

それ以来、私はマスコミ、特に記者を避け、最高級のハワイアン・ヘアルーム・ジュエリーの製作に人生を捧げてきた。この最初のブレスレットを作り、"Hoomanao Mau"("永遠の思い出")という言葉を刻んだとき、ジュエリーはそのように作られるべきだと思いました。実際、オリジナルのブレスレットは厚みがあり、よくできていた。 



やがて私は、私たちの未来と、私たちが愛してやまないジュエリーの未来について考えなければならなくなり、"Hoomanao Mau "ブレスレット、そのシンボルの意味、そして "Prayer of Lili'uokalani"(リリウオカラニの祈り)に関する物語の続きを世に問うことにした。

Philip Rickard



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