Brooke Shields shares the meaningful story behind her favorite piece of heirloom jewelry.
My father, Francis, wore his signet ring everywhere. He was 6 foot 7, and I remember, as a kid, looking up at his pinkie to admire our family crest. The ring was meaningful to him because it was a gift from his mother, who was a princess in Italy. She passed away when he was quite young, so it became a connection to his lineage.
He kept it on until his health took a turn for the worse in 2003. I was about to give birth to my first daughter when he passed away. When I went into labor a few weeks later, I asked my stepsister to bring my dad's ring to me in the hospital. It still had soap inside it from the last time he wore it. I wasn't allowed to put it on my finger because I was going into surgery, but the loveliest nurse found a chain so that I could have it around my neck (it was still against the rules, but she said it was our little secret). I was so comforted because it was as if he were in the room with me.
My daughter was born on May 15, the day before my dad's birthday. We named her Rowan Francis in honor of him. I still wear the ring often and think about my dad every time I do. I love its role in our family history.
—As told to Jennifer Ferrise