St. Croix Chaney Jewelry

Photo Credit: Nelthropp & Low Diamonds & Fine Jewelry

Photo Credit: Nelthropp & Low Diamonds & Fine Jewelry

Another popular type of jewelry among St. Croix residents is chaney (pronounced Chay-knee). These are shards of china plates, cups, etc. that have been rounded and encased with metal, turning them into unique necklaces, bracelets or earrings. Common designs are colored chocolate brown, French country blue or light crimson patterns on white or cream china. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, depicting people, flowers or other interesting designs.

Chaney pieces date back between 1750 and 1900. Primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries, St. Croix was economically peaking with sugar cane plantations across the island. Great houses were filled with lavish furnishings, decor and imported fine china. But following hurricanes, earthquakes and a massive fire, the china was shattered and scattered across plantation grounds. St. Croix children would pick-up the shards and use them as play money, or china money, which led to the current term chaney. With a good eye or a little surface digging, these pieces continue to surface around island, particularly on the west side in fields and on beaches. Kids still collect the pieces and sell batches to local jewelers.

Where to Discover
The most likely areas on-island to find Chaney are the West End and Northside A (click on these links to find out more and see homes for sale in these areas).

Where to Buy
ib (island boy) designs on Company Street in Christiansted
Crucian Gold on Strand Street in Christiansted
Nelthropp & Low on Strand Street in Christiansted

Prices range from $50 for a small sterling silver pendant to $850 for Chaney pieces set in 14 karat gold earrings.

Ready to dig up your own piece of history? Play archaeologist on our beautiful island. Download our free guide, the 10 Best Reasons for Living on St. Croix.