As we prep for a thousand and one big things to happen in our lives over the next three months, I keep finding myself narrating the many, many stories in my mind. Today, it’s the story of the ring.
My engagement ring was part of someone else’s story before it was mine.
When Aaron proposed at the top of a cliff in Chile, he presented me with an obnoxiously large fake ring that I’d kept from a party costume years before. We both laughed at it as he promised we’d find the right ring as soon as we returned home.
Uncovering the ring was – like all other wedding things – overwhelming. We would duck into a jewelry store and be immediately pushed toward a case of the newest, fanciest and most expensive options that only vaguely aligned with my very poor description of what I thought I might be interested in. We repeated this act about 4 times before I was entirely prepared to give up and keep the fake monstrosity.
He chose one last place to look. On a quiet weeknight, we went.
Stepping into the shop – I fought back tears. Long glass cases weaved through the huge room. Hundreds, if not thousands, of options glistened under the bright lights. Every color, shape and style fought for attention while brides elbowed for space to peek at their dream rocks.
I wanted to leave.
“Don’t look at the cases,” our jewelry sensei told me as he covered the case below us with a pad. “Just tell me what you’d like to try.”
For the first moment in our ring shopping, I explained the simplicity of my goal ring and the stress of my preferred low budget. Within minutes, he had a single setting on my finger with a perfectly sized solitaire sitting on top.
“Yes, this,” I confirmed.
Choosing bands took only a few minutes more. He had listened.
At the recommendation of a friend working behind the counter, he also pulled a couple of different stone shapes for me to see. Keeping my simple setting, he began to swap them on my finger.
“Oh, wait,” he paused. “This one is an antique. I’ll have to grab another.”
In the most serendipitous of moments – I latched on to the only tidbit of information that had made me excited to find a ring. “What do you mean antique?” I asked.
The turn of 20th century introduced old European cut diamonds. At that time, diamonds were cut and measured by hand. Cutters used their eyes to measure precision and polished for maximum sparkle against candlelight. While the cut is very much reflected in the modern day brilliant cut diamonds we sold today – the handcrafted nature of the old European diamond introduced inconsistencies and distinctions that are considered flaws by today’s diamond qualification metrics.
The idea of the antique diamond being shaped by hand instead of machine resonated with me. The story of its candlelight sparkle was romantic in and of itself. Then, our senseis explained that many antique diamonds introduced to the market today were formerly set as heirlooms of another generation.
The ring sparkles differently. It’s a chunky, fiery flash versus the delicate brilliance most women want. For all intents and purposes – it’s reused. It’s a stone that would be considered less than others – simply because it’s measured by a different standard from an earlier time. It’s someone’s art. It was someone’s story.
And, now, it’s part of ours.