Tree of Life Key by Barbara Bixby

tree life keyI’m always drawn to keys and have collected skeleton keys most of my life. Battered, rusty ones; shiny, tiny silver ones; heavy, tarnished brass ones. I just like them. I like the elongated form and I like the function. Keys open things. They also lock them: for protection, for privacy. They are mysterious.

A few years ago, I started buying keys as jewelry. These are the kinds of keys I imagine would be owned by a fairytale princess or a powerful, ancient queen — beautifully carved, often set with small gems — fanciful and intricate. My favorite designer of keys is Barbara Bixby, who has created a collection called the Keys of Life. Each has its own meaning and symbolism. I own more of her keys than is reasonable, really, but I like the symbolism. Keys represent  wisdom and knowledge, a striving for understanding.

My favorite key is one that my family gave me to celebrate the first anniversary of my kidney transplant. The Tree of Life key, as it is named, is wrought of sterling silver, sprinkled with tiny diamonds, and has a twining gold leaves. I love it for its beauty and for its meaning. It is a tangible symbol of my love for my family and theirs for me. it also represents a turning point in my life — a return to the relative freedom of a normal life. Entwined with that celebration of renewed life, though, is the thought of the young man whose kidney I received. I still don’t know his name, but his family gave me a precious gift in the middle of their own tremendous grief. My Tree of Life reminds me of the parts each of us play in the cycle of life that turns differently for every person.


  1. A truly favorite key entwined with such significance for you. Keep wearing it in good health.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sandy Lesser

    Beautifully written and very touching Rebecca. I love the Tree of Life key that you found for me and I’m finding that it may be my favorite as well, for several reasons. Enjoy your key and a wonderful life!


  3. dlzdlz

    As one “key freak” to another I totally understand your fascination with keys. I too have always been drawn to keys (and locks) as well! When I saw Barbara’s keys for the first time I was entranced by the exotic beauty and profound meaning of her artistry! The “rest is history” as you know, and I have been collecting her keys, and other stunning pieces ever since. Thanks to your awesome and thorough research (and amazing sources,) I have added some magnificent treasures to my collection and you have helped me discover some of her most beautiful and meaningful keys! Your recounting of how meaningful the “Tree of Life Key” is to you touched my heart, and I hope it will continue to inspire and bring you good health and all the best of life!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: