A few weeks ago, while primarily in search of bridesmaid jewelry ideas, I discovered Etsy. (Did wind up ordering bridesmaid jewelry from an Etsy seller, too, although I’m slightly disappointed with the result — the photographs greatly exaggerated the size of the stones. Hopefully the ‘maids won’t be too offended.) I am not a big wearer of jewelry myself, but could not help but be drawn into the wonderful creative world of custom handmade everything. I emailed my stepmother with links to my twenty favorite bridal jewelry options, asking her opinion.
She minced no words: “I don’t like any of them. They look cheap.”
I suppose they do. They’re nothing you’d find in a department-store glass case; these are silly craft-fair deals, entertaining impulse buys, choses d’une occasion. But that was fine by me. I care little for Teh Bling. I tend to choose modest, understated jewelry, put it on, and then forget about it for years. I have worn the same pair of rose gold hoop earrings, almost without interruption, since early 2007. I bought them to replace the ruby-and-diamond hoops I’d worn, almost without interruption, since 1996, when I received them as a graduation gift. This is how often I change my jewelry.
There’s not much more to it than that. I’m lazy, and not terribly stylish, and am too clumsy and accident-prone to entrust myself with valuable fragile things.
Well. Actually there is a little more to it than that. The graduation-gift earrings came from a very nice couple whose son I went on to marry a few years later. The earrings were selected to match the engagement ring said son had recently given me, which featured a large diamond flanked by two small rubies. I was terrified by this jewelry; I had nightmares about losing the ring or knocking the diamond out of the setting, the enormous expense of the thing weighing on my hand and my psyche like a cartoon anvil. But more than that I was fiercely proud of my Big Rock, for which I had campaigned long and hard, the social symbol of my acceptability as a human by another human.
Or so I thought. There’s nothing like a divorce to reveal man’s inhumanity to man in stark relief. Those rocks were a symbol of nothing so much as fractured light, unyielding hardness, and a face put on for public consumption. I sold the graduation-gift earrings to a jeweler in one of the markets at Downtown Crossing in Boston, took off the ring, and announced to all who would listen that I would wear no further diamonds. (I’d have sold the ring, too, if the market for secondhand Big Rocks weren’t so offensively price-deflated. Instead I wound up donating it to the American Brain Tumor Association, a better plan all around.)
Of course, diamonds were absolutely out of the question as I trawled the internets in search of new bridal jewelry. My stepmother suggested pearls, which I like just fine; but interesting woven-pearl necklaces looked cheap, and single-strand noncheap-looking pearl necklaces were boring. Pearls offered little to my specifications. I wanted something lacy and arching and subtly floral, like the ornamentation on my gown. But I had no idea whether such a thing existed.
Until & and I went to Chicago for a friend’s wedding, wandered into the Macy’s formerly known as Marshall Fields, and discovered the perfect necklace.
Here was a conundrum: it was perfect, yet it was made of diamonds. I do not wear diamonds, yet this was precisely what I hoped to wear. Clearly I was wrong on one count: either I was dreaming of the wrong thing, or else I was, perhaps, a little less hostile to diamonds than I thought.
& loved it. My stepmother loved it. And it was not, all things considered, offensively expensive. & and I had already more or less committed to the exchange of wedding gifts beyond our normal fiscal boundaries when I plunked down my Visa on a bespoke suit for the man (which he will TOTALLY ROCK). Seeing the necklace on my collarbone and the look on my face, he told me how thrilled he would be to reciprocate. This wasn’t something I had asked for, longed for, worked for. It was something he was offering, gladly, of his own free will.
We first spotted the thing on Saturday. We visited it again on Sunday. And today, Monday, right before we returned home to DC, we made one last trip to the Macy’s Formerly Known as Marshall Fields.
The item should arrive in 5 to 7 business days. Shipping it to Virginia cuts the Chicago sales tax almost in half. In the meantime I have a week and change to get over any residual internal torsion I might be experiencing as a result of a man giving me diamonds.
It’s different this time. This time I haven’t had to work for it, haven’t had to earn it. This time it came to me. This time it’s right.