Valentine’s Day and the exchange of chocolate, flowers, cards and jewelry is zooming toward us. According to the National Retail Federation, last year Americans dropped over $4 billion on jewelry for Valentine’s Day.
My own jewelry box contains riches but to the untrained eye it looks full of cheap earrings bought at street fairs, a stack of silver bracelets longer than my arm, a couple of medical ID bracelets and then there are the real treasures: the emotionally valuable. Each piece makes me smile and each brings up a memory.
The time my godmother gave me a necklace which I thought pretty, but odd: The two sides of a heart were birthstones: one was mine but the other was for September. The curious part was that I didn’t know anyone with a September birthday… until my daughter was born six years later.
The time my former boyfriend, turned fiancé, turned husband gave me a band of gold and small diamonds to mark our first anniversary.
The times my parents gave me wearable trinkets from their faraway travels.
All the times I was gifted with beaded bracelets, craft yarn necklaces, several flamingo and mermaid baubles from my children.
And then there is an oxymoron of an uncomfortable yet cherished memory. My husband often complains that I don’t wear my engagement ring any more, which is true but the memory that I hold tight and cherish also leaves me uncomfortable.
I never really liked the ring.
That has got to be the most ungrateful comment I’ve ever made. I don’t blame anyone for thinking that I am the jerk in this story, but hear me out. There are two things I truly love about the ring: the reason that he gave it to me and the story of why he picked that specific ring, because it is a perfect illustration of him.
When we started to look at engagement rings he asked what I liked. I told him that I was easy to please, had small hands so a big diamond would look stupid but the one thing I really didn’t like? A marquise cut diamond.
When he took a knee, ring in hand, I opened the box…and from that moment on I loved the sentiment behind the ring more than physical ring itself.
I happily said, “yes” to his important question, let him slip the ring on my finger and said, “It’s lovely but why did you choose a marquise cut?”
He was genuinely surprised. “Is that what you meant? I picked the one that looked like a football, you should have said you liked hockey pucks.”
Then he added with extreme pride, “It took me all of five minutes in the store. I was in and out in no time!”
That, Ladies and Gents, is my husband: a focused, mission-driven, time-efficient sports fan.
I happily wore the ring for years despite accidentally knocking it on hard surfaces, getting it caught in my hair and snagging sweaters but when it scratched one of my babies I took to wearing it only on Sundays, then not at all.
He noticed, asked why and I explained over and over again for the last 15 years.
But at some point in those 15 years, I realized that wearing the anniversary band he gave me or a ring handed down from his mother has just as much sentimental value as the engagement ring because they represent our life travels together.
If you are shopping for jewelry this year remember that it has meaning more valuable than gold and diamonds and the only size that matters is the size of the sentiment behind it. While that isn’t outwardly obvious to the untrained eye, does it have to be?