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Celebrate Moms & Grads With Historic Key Jewelry

Inspirational, classy – and limited -- luxury key jewelry from The Lockkeepers Collection is making a fashion mark around town.

This custom jewelry is the brainchild of DC-Maryland-Virginia area jeweler Sherrie Beckstead.

Trust for the National Mall
Trust for the National Mall

The keys were inspired by the original keys that lockkeepers of yesteryear used to open the big locks along the C&O Canal waterway. The new fashion-forward keys are smaller, of course. And, some are studded with black or white diamonds. Some are worn as necklaces, others as brooches or lapel pins.

These keys are for those who want something special for mom, wife, nana, or any important woman in your life – no matter the occasion. The beauty of the jewelry will awe new graduates.

For the guys, there will be cufflinks for that upscale business shirt. But wait a second, these links work equally well on a woman’s blouse cuffs. The first small delivery of Cufflinks sold out in 2 weeks, the next arrival is just in time for Father’s Day.

The jewelry is available at The Lockkeepers Collection. Price range from $1,995 to $2,495 for key necklaces of rose gold, white gold or yellow with or black or white diamonds.

A sterling silver collections prices range from $75 to $650.

Also on the drawing board is a separate lock necklace that takes its cue from the original locks on the C&O Canal, and inspired by local history.

Beckstead’s design for the collection was motivated by the Lockkeeper’s House story and her love for American history and education. The Lockkeeper’s House, constructed in 1837 and 350 square feet in size, is the oldest building on the Mall. Sherrie serves on the National Advisory Council for the Trust for the National Mall.

The C&O Canal extends 184 miles from Georgetown to Cumberland, Maryland. Several years after the canal opened, an eastward extension was built to link the canal to the Potomac River and the Washington City Canal. The house was built near what is now the southwest corner of 17th Street NW and Constitution Avenue to serve the extension’s lock.


The lockkeepers who occupied the house worked as a toll collectors, record keepers, traffic managers, and maintenance men. Their locks, and others along the canal, such as next to 30th Street in Georgetown, enabled the canal’s narrow barges to navigate the 76-foot increase in water elevation as the canal climbed from the low levels of Washington into Maryland.

The canal was essentially a commercial operation from its opening until 1924, when it surrendered to the competition of the railroad. It then gradually became a tourist attraction, boosted by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas’ hike of its entire length, and then in 1971 by a new law creating Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park.

To help support the Lockkeeper’s House and other historic elements of the Mall, 50 percent of each sale from The Lockkeepers Collection will be donated to the National Mall Trust.