Thursday, August 11, 2016

With this ring...


A pretty diamond ring was placed on my finger on a cold November day too many years ago to count.  We spent the afternoon rolling out grass sod in our backyard.  The house wasn't really mine - he bought it with his parent's help, but the ring held promises of a life to come...and I loved him.

I discovered I also loved diamonds and began studying other women's fingers.  But no matter how large, none compared to the spitfire on my finger.  Although smallish, its sparkle made up for its stature.  I was so proud to wear the ring of his great-grandmother's -  a European hand-cut stone in a simple platinum Tiffany setting, about 70 years old and nearly flawless.  It was all mine after his grandmother excitedly took it off her finger for him to give to me.  That tender story enriched my ring and like a gently waving ribbon, encircled itself around that brisk November afternoon as we stood inside the broken glass of a decrepit greenhouse freezing, with mud on our hands but tender smiles in our eyes. With this ring...

Unfortunately, one of the lasting memories of our union was the day his father casually remarked, "If you ever get divorced, you had better give that ring back".  In the end, there were other lasting memories too...missing beach towels from the linen closet of our home - the very space we built together to hold our new baby's diapers and bath toys.  And the horrible memory of the weekend he disappeared to be with her, leaving me frantic and alone - an infant in my arms.  With this ring...

Fast-forward and I decided to alter the ring to appear less marital and more single-mother.  I had it reset and added two identical birthstones on each side but the diamond seemed to lose more than its luster - it's spark was dulled too.  Perhaps it was altered as much as I was...from joy to the difficult task at hand -  raising a child to wholeness on my own, a serious business I took seriously.  And so the ring silently sat, all its fires out for nearly 29 years.  Until last week...

I brought my diamond to a surprisingly boyish and kind man who runs a small jewelry business near where I work.  He examined the stone and exclaimed that it is indeed special and advised it should be set in gold to enhance its glimmer and glint.  Together we played with designs until I selected a perfect platinum setting in a hefty gold band.  We added two smaller diamonds to nestle alongside the stone which made the end result look far different than the ring that was first placed on my finger so long ago.  It still retained the traditional look I wanted to keep yet, it could stand all on its own too - a splendid ring for a still-single woman.

While I waited for my jeweler's call that the work was finished, I began to investigate diamond rings online.  I was particularly enchanted with a series of ads that were commissioned by the large diamond mining company De Beers.  Unable to sell directly to the US market because of antitrust laws, De Beers asked an ad agency to produce advertisements that made nearly every engagement end in a diamond ring.  The woman behind the ads was Frances Gerety, a pioneering "mad (wo)men" who came up with the slogan, "Diamonds are Forever".  The print advertisements included captivating artwork by Picasso, Dali and others.  The copy that accompanied the art was filled with the bewitching sentiment that can make my money and I easily part ways and suddenly I wanted diamond earrings, diamond necklaces, and diamond bracelets.  I couldn't help but note that the ads were portraits of lone women who were the recipients of diamond rings - no men.  And they appeared positively biblical to me painted with landscape settings, beatific faces, swan-like necks, and swaths of robes.  I was entranced and the research made me joyously anticipate the day I could finally see and wear my "new" ring.

That day came at last and naturally I examined the ring in the shop but it wasn't until I was alone in the car that I had a really good look.  I would have known that diamond anywhere.  The fire I had forgotten for so long flashed and flickered as I turned my finger towards the sun streaming through the car window.  It winked back knowingly at the moment I finally realized that the ring was truly mine now and didn't have to be given back to anybody.  And I could not have rebirthed it at a better time.  Although the ring had lain in repose like a butterfly's chrysalis, it burst forth just in time to represent the life I grew into - the one I live right now.  Small perhaps in the great scheme of things, but a life with meaning, hope, strength, and some bright and happy sparkle now and then.  Yes, with this ring...

~






(De Beers Diamond ads, 1950's)


(The model as well as the photographer is my daughter).

7 comments:

  1. YES. YES. YES!!!! I LOVE THIS! And I love meeting the (m)ad woman responsible for diamonds are forever, too! These ads are GREAT and I wish there was a book of them. What a great coffeetable book that would make! Your tale of a diamond restored to its luster is so lovely, Donna. I am enchanted by it! So glad you shared that with us, dearie! Beautifully realized! XO

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  2. I LOVED reading this! I am thrilled that your ring has been reignited for your current life. What a bold step with such happy rewards.

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  3. It's fascinating, when one starts to read about diamonds, to find out how often family pieces are altered, given new life through the generations. The act of making that diamond your own must have felt powerful or perhaps even magical as that wonderful sparkle returned. When out son announced his intention to marry out DIL we passed his grandmother's diamond on to him. She was a young woman with no family at all and the symbol meant a lot to her. The first time she wore it in public, some 15 years ago, she was parading in military uniform and her radiant smile and the sparkle on her finger signaled as much that we were hers as that she was ours.

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    1. .......and that sounded rather biblical and archaic - not meant to. Our DIL is really like the daughter of our hearts and I know that she feels the same way about us. The ring? I hope that one day she is able to give to a grandson of hers, after she has done whatever she wants to do with it.

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  4. And how lovely it looks! Well played.

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  5. LOVED THIS STORY!
    WHAT A WONDERFUL WRITER YOU ARE!
    AND HERE I AM FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!
    XX

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