The Eastern Star

Most folks nowadays have heard of the Freemasons but not many may have heard of a lesser well-known, but related, group called Order of the Easter Star (OES).  OES is a Masonic organization open to both men and women, established in 1850 by lawyer and educator, Dr. Rob Morris.  Morris was a noted Freemason.  Even though OES was established 23 years earlier, it wasn't adopted and approved as an appendant body of the Masonic Fraternity until 1873.

This bespoke Order of the Eastern Star ring is hand crafted in platinum with diamonds most likely around the early 1930-40s.  The delicate milgrain, hand-cut star rays & attention to detail show that the woman (or man) who commissioned this beauty was a proud OES member.

Morris devised the Order when he was teaching at the Eureka Masonic College in Richland, Miss..  When he was confined by illness, he wrote the principles of the order in his Rosary of the Eastern Star.  By 1855, he had organized a "Supreme Constellation" in New York, which chartered chapters throughout the United States.  It was in 1866 that Morris started working with Robert Macoy.  It was at that time that he handed the Order over to Macoy while he was traveling in the Holy Land.  Macoy organized the current system of Chapters and modified Morris' Rosary into a Ritual.  It was on December 1, 1874 that the Queen Esther Chapter No. 1 became the first Prince Hall Affiliate chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star when it was established in Washington, D.C. by Thornton Andrew Jackson.  The "General Grand Chapter" was then formed in Indianapolis, Ind. on November 6, 1876.  Committees formed at that time created the Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star in more or less its current form.

Many times, OES jewelry is handed from generation to generation like this sublime example submitted from a dear friend, Darcy.  She inherited this set from her  Grandmother.  Hazel Constance Carr who was born on October 4, 1908 in Maryville, MO.  She was the 8th of 12 children & went to Northwest State University.  Hazel became an elementary school teacher & later moved to St. Joseph, MO with her two sons after the passing of her husband Leland Nichols in 1957. Hazel taught school until her retirement & was a lifelong Order of the Eastern Star member.  Just as Darcy inherited these beautiful pieces, she plans to pass them along to her oldest son when he graduates from Kansas State University with his degree in Secondary Education - the first in the family to go into teaching since Hazel.  Jewelry is meant to become heirlooms & nowhere is that more obvious than in this example!

Members of OES may be male or female, age 18 and older.  Men must be Master Masons and women must have a specific relationship with the Masons.  Originally, a woman would have to be the daughter, widow, wife, sister or mother of a Master Mason.  However, the Order now allows other relatives as well as allowing Job's Daughters, Rainbow Girls, Members of the Organization of Triangles (in NY only) and members of the Constellation of Junior Stars (also in NY only) to become members when they reach the age of majority.  OES is based on some teachings from the Bible, but is open to people of all religious beliefs.  It has approximately 10,000 chapters in 20 countries and approximately 500,000 members under its General Grand Chapter.

Once a tie tack, this platinum & diamond Masonic trowel (above) was converted to a necklace with diamond stations giving it the appearance of an arrow making it easily wearable & perfect for layering.  Seeing more & more of these custom-made pieces come on the market & converted into wearable items by non-masons, allows the history & tradition to continue, albeit in different ways.

But what has always fascinated me the most about OES is the stunning jewelry that I have seen over the years.  What has specifically fascinated me is the symbolism.  Religious beliefs aside, the symbolism of jewelry is what initially attracted me to antique and vintage pieces in the first place, so it's no wonder that OES jewelry would draw me in as well.  The emblem of the Order itself is filled with symbolism.

This Vintage 18K white gold 0.66 ctw diamond Order of the Eastern Star Ring with synthetic gems is a stunning example of OES jewelry!

The meaning of the letters F.A.T.A.L. surrounding the center pentagon in the emblem is only revealed to members of the Order.  However, some believe the initials are said to stand for the phrase, “Fairest Among Thousands, Altogether Lovely” - a reference from the Song of Songs or perhaps an apt description of some of the biblical heroines that are represented by the other colored rays of the star.  

OES jewelry is available in multiple styles, materials & price points like this adorable rhinestone brooch example featuring the OES five-pointed star side by side with a Shriner's masonic emblem.

The multi-colored five-pointed star emblem of the Order has the white ray of the star pointing downwards towards the manger.  In an OES Chapter's room, the downward-pointing white ray points to the West.  OES Jewelry is a further representation of the organization's belief structure and their jewelry is one way to further display and promote that belief system.  The character-building lessons taught within the Order are stories inspired by Biblical women, each represented by a specific color in the star's rays:
  • Adah - Jephthah's daughter, from the Book of Judges. In the Order, Adah is represented by the color blue and a sword with veil.  Adah represents the virtue of obedience to duty.
  • Ruth - Is the widow from the Book of Ruth.  In OES, Ruth is represented by the color yellow and a sheaf of barley.  Ruth represents the virtue of religious principles.
  • Esther - The wife from the Book of Esther.  According to OES, Esther is represented by the color white with a crown and scepter.  Esther represents the virtue of loyalty.
  • Martha - The sister of Mary and Lazarus, from the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John.  In the Order, Martha is represented by the color green and a broken column.  Martha represents the virtue of endurance in trial.
  • Electa - Is the "elect lady" from II John, the mother.  In OES, Electa is represented by the color red and a chalice.  Electa represents the virtue of endurance of persecution.

OES jewelry comes in a variety of styles & materials just like this adorable antique example in 10kt white gold & onyx.  

In addition to being a relatively secret organization (with amazing jewels!) like the Freemasons, OES is also a philanthropic group.  It has a charitable foundation that has contributed funds to Alzheimer's disease research, juvenile diabetes and juvenile asthma research.  It also provides bursaries to students of theology and religious music, as well as other scholarships that differ by jurisdiction.  Many jurisdictions also support a Masonic and/or Eastern Star retirement centers or nursing homes for older members; some of which are also open to the public.  

An amazing 14k vintage white gold & 0.45 tcw single cut diamond, white GH color and Si1 clarity.  Found on eBay, this ring also features 5 gorgeous flashes of colored gemstones & is sure to be a conversation starter!


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