Category Archives: Ring

Moment of Panic

Walking out of a diner with three members of the bridal hootenanny, I gasped and screamed, “OH MY GOD!”

Abby thought my car was stolen.

John thought I saw a dead body.

Liz, an arachnophobic, thought there was a spider.

In reality: my engagement ring wasn’t on my finger.  This provokes in me the kind of shocked horror that you’d expect in a victim of or witness to a major crime (to Liz, spiders are a crime).

I ran back into the diner, searching our booth desperately. Then I emptied my pockets with shaking hands, finally finding my ring tangled up in my keys inside my right coat pocket. I have no idea how it got there. I’m just glad it’s back on my finger.

Abby said, “That’s the right reaction to have. It means you really love Collin.” I think it means I really love my ring, but I also really love Collin, so I’m not gonna split that hair.

This ever happen to you? Did you keep your cool better than I did (I hope?)

Seeking Vendor Advice: Looking for a Custom Jeweler

Collin has a very specific request for his wedding band: he wants his engagement ring recreated in a more durable, wearer-friendly metal (the six-dollar original has finally started to leave rust on his skin), and he wants a second band in a shinier, prettier metal intertwined with it.

Here’s his engagement ring (sorry the photo is blurry; I could only get him to “pose” for the photo by sneaking up on him when he was on the stationary bicycle):

He wants a rustic, dull band like that one twisted with a shinier, polished band.  So that the end result sort of resembles this:

[source]

I need a reliable, affordable custom jeweler. Our budget is around $500, our wedding is in about five months.  Any suggestions?

Hey-Na Hey-Na

My engagement ring is back! I feel so much less naked now.

Plus I’m very happy with how the wedding band came out. I think the two rings look fabulous together.

So how do you think they prop up the rings for that photo?

Ringless

We’re sending my engagement ring back to be fitted with my wedding band/to have the birthstones on the inside of the band fixed [it is supposed to have Collin’s birthstone (peridot) and my birthstone (emerald), but they gave us a peridot and an amethyst instead.  Which, coincidentally, are my dead parents’ birthstones.  Which is creepy.  And then the peridot fell out.  So right now I just have an amethyst inside my engagement band.  Weird.]

Our jeweler was ready for me to send in the ring over a week ago, but I refused to part with it until after Halloween.  I didn’t want to deal with avoiding kissy-faced strangers at the gigantic Halloween party we’re going to without the easy way out of flashing a ring.  I realize now that I’ve avoided kissing randoms at this party for two years running without a ring, so I don’t know what seemed so offensive about being without it this year.  I guess the ring has made me soft.

Fortunately, I’m weaning myself from my ring before we send it away on Monday.  I’ve been doing manual labor all week to assist in the construction of this gigantic Halloween party (I will have to write an entire post about this party and its wedding-planning lessons), spending my days with my ring tucked into the key pocket of paint-covered jeans.  I got used to it not being on my finger surprisingly quickly.  But I have to admit at the end of every day, slipping my ring back on gave me a rush of warm, happy, feelings.

I haven’t decided if I’ll wear an engagement ring pro tem.  I would like to, but I don’t really have a contender.  I am allergic to inexpensive metals, and the only nice rings I have are heirlooms that don’t quite fit or are too delicate for me to feel comfortable wearing all day.

Anyone else have to send away her ring for a time?  Was it hard to part with it? How did you deal?

A Modest Proposal

[Preface: Anyone want to take a bet on how many wedding blog entries have that title? Mine is seventeen hundred.]

Collin now has an engagement ring.  I bought it for six bucks off a counter display at a store for teenagers at the mall.

I also bought three other potential rings, all with similar prices and lame origin stories.  The first ring I bought online, but the photo representing the ring was the biggest photographic misrepresentation of a product this side of OK Cupid.  I immediately rejected it and headed to the mall, where I purchased a second ring that had a nifty design lasered onto it but seemed like it would be uncomfortable to wear.  Then I found a completely plain ring at H&M for five dollars and decided to add that to the mix.  Finally, I had to get the ring Collin ultimately chose because it was my favorite I’d seen so far—a very thin wavy band in a dark goldish color.

I hedged by bets by presenting all four options.  I did this for a few reasons.  First, Collin is insanely picky.  His pickiness is also hard to predict.  Plus, he’s generally uncomfortable with being given gifts, and I think that tendency exacerbates his pickiness over gifted objects.  Additionally, the ring I liked the most had no information about its metal content other than “nickel-free,” but despite that assurance I worried it would cause irritation or turn his skin green or something and I wanted him to know off the bat he could swap it out for another option.

I proposed by putting all four of the rings on StuKitty’s collar.  The first thing Collin does when he gets home is feed and pet his kitties.  But he didn’t notice the rings immediately like I thought he would, so I lured StuKitty back over to Collin with a treat.  Collin still didn’t notice.  Finally, I ordered him to pick up the cat, and Collin caught on right away to the game I was playing.

He was very excited to pick a ring.   I think he mainly based his decision on fit, even though none of them were perfect. In fact we lost the ring for about five minutes after Collin shook his hand violently to test the fit and found it was loose enough to fly in those circumstances.  I told Collin that at six bucks a pop, we might just want to stock up on a year’s supply.

Anyway, here’s hoping the ring doesn’t fall off, provoke a skin reaction, or get too brutally mocked by Collin’s macho buddies for the next 53 weeks.  I really like both of us wearing rings.

As for the reject rings, If they don’t have to come off the bench, I will try working them into the metal boutonnieres I am planning on making for the dudes in the Bridal Hootenanny.

Worst Case Scenario, You Lose a Finger

Collin and I popped into a mall jewelry store last night.  Collin’s been looking for his own wedding band online, and he’s found a contender.  But I insisted he put on actual rings in a jewelry store so he could feel the weight of different metals and see different widths on his finger.

The store had only one case of men’s wedding bands, half of which were diamond-studded “Godfather rings,” to borrow a term from the adorable 60-something saleswoman. She took out a few rings in yellow and white gold, all quite plain but otherwise pretty. Then she brought out the tungsten carbide rings. Prices starting at $99! Can’t argue with that.

Well, of course Grandma Jewelry can!

First she tells us that rings made from tungsten can’t be re-sized the way gold rings can. “As the years go on, you’ll find your fingers get a little pudgy.” Then she shares that her husband’s fingers got so big even his traditional gold wedding band can’t be sized to fit. She pointed to her wedding band. “I never let him forget that mine still fits.”

At this point I think this is the most adorable senior citizen north of the Florida panhandle. Even though my cynical side, which has been in fine form since my glasses broke, is piping in with, “she just wants to upsell you to the gold!”

Then Ol’ Granny Trinkets adds another candy to the anti-tungsten dish: “What if you have an accident? What if you close the car door on your hand? Tungsten rings are so hard they might not have the equipment to saw them off in the emergency room.”

I think my response was something along the lines of, “What? Really? What!”

She repeated her claim. “I told my nephew because he said he wanted one. I said, ‘What if you smash your hand up? Your fingers swell around that ring and you’re in serious trouble.’ He said, ‘Nah, worst case scenario you lose a finger.'”

I repeat: What! REALLY? WHAT!?

I don’t know what to make of Nana Sparkebright’s warning. It’s a jeweler’s job to sell more expensive metals. And it’s an adorable old lady’s job to impart her wisdom and look out for wayward engaged twentysomethings. I feel so conflicted! My weakness for sweet old ladies is butting up against my general skepticism regarding salespeople!

What say you all? Is this finger-killing tungsten ring thing an urban legend or a real danger?

Engagement Rings as Status Symbols

One of the primary functions of an engagement ring is a message to the outside world: “Sorry, spoken for.”  But rings say so much more than that.

To some folks, having a big ol’ diamond on your ring finger says something about your ethics.  But let’s face it, to other people (A LOT of other people) the particulars of the ring of your finger say something about your social status.

There’s pretty much no way around the fact that at least some portion of the people who see the ring on your finger are going to quickly calculate some guess as to how much that ring cost, and extrapolate from that a judgment about your economic status, your social class, and by extension your entire life.

This pulls both ways!  I have an acquaintance whose ring features probably the biggest diamond I have ever seen in real life that is not cursed. This diamond is so big that it can sometimes be hard to look her in the eye during conversations.  Her diamond makes me feel like a horny fourteen-year-old boy talking to a woman with large breasts.

I cannot speak to her feelings about that ring, but  I can just say that having such a gigantic diamond on my finger would probably embarrass me in certain circumstances.  Plus I figure it will eventually cause curvature of her spine.

On the other hand, many people sweat the smallness of their diamond.  I’ve certainly heard women with smaller diamonds refer to them as “starter rings.”  I think that is because, at least for young people in the US, it is acceptable to be currently poor as long as you plan on future wealth.

And for the provider of the ring (often a man, bringing in a new mess of gender issues on top of class ones), the status message can be just as, if not more, important.  My cousin Rocky, who coincidentally got engaged the night before Collin and I did, explained to me last Thanksgiving that despite his low salary (he’s a detective in Baltimore) he feels (felt? I’ve painted myself into a verb tense corner) obligated to buy an obviously pricey engagement ring because he drives a Corvette.  He wouldn’t want anyone to think his car was worth more to him than his wife.  That kind of made me want to barf, but at the same time I couldn’t deny that it made a certain kind of sense.

The diamond on my ring is around 0.7 carats.  I think this is a fantastic size, the perfect size, because it is the size I actually have and OMG I LOVE MY RING.  My guess is that is on the small end of the average range?  I don’t really have a basis for this other than the skewed sample of law school people and the nonsense that is published in advertisements in bridal magazines.  Internet research on this subject has, unsurprisingly, produced a wild variety of answers.

[I also attempted to conduct a totally unscientific poll of my friends who happen to be on GChat at this second asking what size diamond they’d want on an engagement ring. I got a lot of specific details about what they want in a ring (“Platinum band, Tiffany setting.” “No bezel setting.” “I want it to be flat enough I can wear gloves over it.” “I want a green diamond! It is RADIOACTIVE!”) but no one really knows what carat weights look like so they couldn’t comment on that.]

But I honestly don’t think people react much to the size of the diamond on my ring, not only because it is fairly middle-of-the-road, but because the most striking thing about the diamond is that it is brown.  A lot of people don’t even know that diamonds come in brown, so it’s a distracting feature.    Some people think it is awesome, or are good at acting like they do.  Other people say “tactful” things like, “what’s important is that you like it.”

So… all of this has basically been a preface to showing you my engagement ring.  In so doing I feel obligated to linking to the designer, which will give any gumshoe readers the opportunity to calculate approximately how much it cost.  This makes me uncomfortable: For some people the cost will be too great! For other people the cost will be too little!  But… that is what this whole post is about.  I wear this status indicator every day, and now I am putting that signal on my blog.  Even though it is squirmy.

But let’s ignore that.  Let’s just say, “ooooh, pretty!”

[And yes, it took me around 839 tries to get that photo even remotely in focus.  There was a cat hair in frame that kept distracting the camera.  And it’s the “ring in a ring box” picture I adamantly refused to put on Facebook when we first got engaged.  Instead I posted a picture of the ring up Collin’s nostril.  My aunts were… amused.]

Part of the Problem

Most of the people reading this blog already know the deal with diamonds: they are price-fixed by an evil cartelfund civil wars in Africa, miners are subject to absurdly bad labor conditions, mining is bad for the environment, and the social construction of gifting diamonds as a romantic gesture has oogy patriarchal implications.  Did I forget anything?

So what can be done?

1. Use an old stone. Estate (pre-owned) rings/diamonds are a popular solution to fighting the Evil Diamond Man because they aren’t price-controlled in the same way new diamonds are.  And when it comes to human rights abuses in mining, I guess the philosophy for estate diamonds is “the damage is done.”  I honestly don’t know enough about the history of diamond mining to say if labor conditions have been better at one time or another, but note that “estate” doesn’t mean anything about how old a diamond is, it just means it is pre-owned.  “Antique” generally means from the 1920s or earlier.  One reason people go for estate diamonds instead of antique diamonds is that old “center stone” diamonds are tiny by today’s standards.

2.Use a different stone. This presents two problems: first, other gemstones are also mined under worker- and environment-unfriendly conditions.  Second: whenever you read “diamonds are intrinsically worthless” (from one of my links up there) you are reading anti-puffery.  Diamonds are pretty.  Diamonds are also very hard, and very unlikely to scratch, chip, crack, or shatter.  Other gemstones are substantially more likely to be damaged in these ways, especially when worn all day every day.  Diamonds rate a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.  Sapphires are a 9.  But the Mohs scale is ordinal, so diamonds are almost four times harder than sapphires.  A friend of mine used a garnet in her ring (7 on the Mohs scale), and after two years it is chipped.

3. Use a lab-created stone. Lab created diamonds are sometimes hard to find because of the Evil Diamond Man, and pure white synthetic diamonds are most difficult to come by.  If you want a colored stone, a synthetic diamond can be a great option.  It’s even harder than a real diamond!  Synthetic sapphires are another great option; many people actually consider them more attractive than (very pricey) natural sapphires because they have a deeper color and are inclusion-free.  I do not know if the stone creation process is environmentally friendly or not.

4. Don’t have an engagement ring. A problem with each of the previous solutions is that they are generally still perpetuate the cultural expectations that support the diamond trade.  Additionally, metal mining has its own labor and environmental considerations, but I am not educated about these considerations.  A way to avoid all of the ethical problems with jewelry is to not wear any.  Obviously, this is emotionally unacceptable for a lot of people, who’ve either imagined wearing an engagement ring or giving an engagement ring for a long time.  And it can be difficult to deal with people thinking you are “not really” engaged if there is no jewelry.

Between decided to get married and “getting engaged,” Collin and I discussed all of these options.  We ended up… buying a new diamond.  Then we took turns clubbing baby seals.

The decision was primarily motivated by aesthetics and simplicity, which I suppose exacerbates our ethical transgression.  Collin had imagined a ring with a brown center stone (brown is my favorite color and the general color scheme of my wardrobe), and decided a cognac diamond would be the best option.  Brown diamonds are abundant in the earth, but they only recently started to be marketed as beautiful and be cut for jewelry.   Because they have a short history as jewelry stones, finding a synthetic or pre-owned brown diamond would have been difficult.  So he bought a new diamond.

And yes, I feel guilty about the diamonds on my ring sometimes.  We tried to educate ourselves, and then ended up making a knowingly unethical decision.  But the other thing I learned in trying to educate myself is that there aren’t any easy, simple, completely corrective solutions to the trouble with diamonds.  I realize choosing the least ethical of many imperfect options isn’t a defense.

But let me be very frank: I drive a car that runs on gasoline. I buy clothes from H&M and other retailers that use sweatshop labor.  I desperately prefer incandescent light bulbs to CFLs.  My diamond ring is far from the start or finish of my consumption of products that support wars, exploit workers, and destroy the earth.

Can we still be friends?

They Look Like Good Strong Hands, Don’t They?

I try not to indulge in insecurity about my appearance.  Admittedly, it helps that I generally think I look good.  But worrying too much about my appearance feels like an exercise in insanity: Beauty standards are warped. There will always be someone better looking.  And good looks are fleeting.

But when it comes to my hands, I really, truly fail with my dreams of Beauty Mythbusting. I’ve written before about my skin problems.  The first place I ever suffered from eczema was on the knuckle of my right index finger, now I have it all over both hands.  Years of dry, itchy, raw, cracked skin, plus the side effects of the steroid creams I use to alleviate those symptoms, mean I have the hands of a much older woman.  Plus I have to keep my fingernails filed down to the quick, which isn’t the most glamorous look.

I really delighted in this post a few weeks back on Shakesville, because I saw Sarah Jessica Parker’s un-retouched hands and thought “those look just like mine!”

And Melissa McEwan described those hands as “beautiful and remarkable,” and not for the first time I wished I could be more like Melissa McEwan.

I mentioned the other day I have a scar through my eyebrow, and that I love it.  I never ever think of it as a flaw in my appearance.  Why can’t I feel that way about my hands?  I remember reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle as a child, and when I read these words in the final chapter:

Even as she stood there, holding my hands, a strange look passed across her face.  Slowly she turned my hands over, gazed at the palms, then touched them with her fingertips. “And your hands?’ she asked in horror. “They are so . . . hard.”

I knew this meant to show the reader that Charlotte had grown as a person; her experiences were showing on her skin.  We’re not supposed to be horrified like her mother.  We’re supposed to be proud.

Then again, I didn’t get my rough hands leading a mutiny against a villainous sea captain, so maybe that comparison doesn’t hold water (excuse the pun).

Still, I wish I were more comfortable with my hands, and not just for all these philosophical reasons, but for the simple fact that getting engaged (if you have an engagement ring) means showing your hand to EVERYONE.  Every time I see someone new and they ask to see the ring, I have to shove aside embarrassment about how my hands look.  This weekend I’ll be seeing most of Collin’s family for the first time since the ring arrived, and my hands are in worse shape than usual: picture SJP’s hand up there but with a bunch of scratch marks all over it.

I will probably try to rely mainly on the procedure of taking of my ring and handing it over to anyone asking to see it, even though that can be a little awkward.  In the meantime, I hope I someday learn to love my hard, hyperlinear hands.

Ring Thing Solution!

My future mother-in-law Viki found the solution to my ring thing problem: individualized butter dish from Crate & Barrel:

It meets all my criteria: it looks nice (mine is cuter because Viki painted on tiny hearts and swirls), it is relatively cat-proof, I can see inside of it, and it doesn’t appear to be a sex toy.  Thanks, Viki!

In other news, it is my birthday! In The Knot’s imagination, that means I am exactly one year away from our wedding.  Tell it to the imaginary venue we haven’t booked, The Knot!

Speaking of which, tomorrow, despite the varsity-level celebrating I have planned for tonight, we begin a marathon string of venue tours at 9AM.  Any last-minute advice for questions to ask and things to look for at venues?

Failing that, any recommendations for cocktails I should try tonight?