Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Garnet Week

I've loved garnets since reading the following passage in Willa Cather's A Lost Lady:

Niel liked to see the firelight sparkle on her earrings, long pendants of garnets and seed-pearls in the shape of  fleur-de-lys.  She was the only woman he knew who wore earrings; they hung naturally against her ...cheeks.  Captain Forrester, although he had given her handsomer ones, liked to see her wear these, because they had been his mother's.
After first discovering and adoring Cather's fine yet sad novel, I ran to my jewelry box and unearthed the bohemian garnet bracelet I inherited from my grandmother (below).  It's always been a tad tight but it graces my wrist every Valentine's Day week. Its crimson facets are perfect for winter and the festive week of love. I wear it every day leading up to February 14th.

In anticipation of my daughter's birth and knowing that the garnet would be her birthstone, I found a deep and teasing blood red garnet ring at an antique store.  Photographs of me holding my newborn show the ring as bright as my shining eyes.  It became my daughter's, as originally planned, on her eighteenth birthday.  I wore it only on loan and in the hopes that I would infuse it with eighteen years of my precious love.  When I dropped it in her palm, no words were needed.

Garnets continued to enchant me and a few years ago, after a time of illness, I found a beautiful pair of gold and garnet earrings.  They were not the lovely Mrs. Forrester's fleur-de-lys earrings, but they did have wee garnets and seed-pearls and they dangled becomingly.  I asked the owner of the jewel box of a shop if she would hold them for me on deposit.  I would return for them after I received my first back-to-work paycheck.  I kept my promise and two weeks later, on Valentine's Day, they became a present to myself, and remain a talisman for continued well-being.

Hearts may be the most universally loved motif for Valentine's Day, but I think garnets are a better emblem, to sparkle against a cheek during a candlelit dinner à deux, as a gift of hope to oneself, and to speak the words the heart cannot say.


  1. Speaking of garnets makes me recall an historical novel I own by author Gwen Bristow. The book is Jubilee Trail and is the story about a young woman named Garnet who marries a man named Oliver and travels from New Orleans to California during the days of the Gold Rush.