I Might Have Given You The Ring Surrounding The Moon

This is why I love the internet. While Hurricane Irma took up a lot of attention last week, a different mini-tempest was raging in the small corners of the online world over this Instagram post by a young lady in Australia:

Public opinion seemed to be heavily in favor of yelling at this young lady for being shallow. The British newspaper, The Daily Mail, even took a poll and 67% of their respondents thought that anyone who would complain about the itty-bittiness of this engagement ring was not a nice person.

Photo credit: Sotheby’s This is the most expensive diamond ever sold: the 59.6-carat Pink Star, $71.2 million dollars (sold April 2017, oval brilliant cut)

Well, this proves that I’m not a nice person because I loathe this ring. It is a travesty.  I would be embarrassed and ashamed to wear it, and I’m talking as the 20-something / 30-something me, not the jaded 60-year-old me who now has some really nice stuff in her jewelry box. No woman, no matter how young and in love, should settle for this.

Jewelry is something that I have expert opinions on. (Certified gemologist, trained diamond grader, colored stone appraiser, Faberge expert for Christie’s auction house.) Let’s forget the intrinsic aspects of this piece of crap, which is that when you buy a diamond that is this tiny you are getting the worst crumbs of the diamond trade, and the stone has practically no market value at all; the ring is essentially worthless, except for the gold weight, which looks minimal. Let’s talk about the intangibles of which this ring is lacking, that is, those elements of taste and sentiment that this kind of jewelry is supposed to embody.

Elizabeth Taylor wearing the engagement ring given to her by Mike Todd in 1957: 29-4-carats (emerald cut, internally flawless).

No. 1, there is no law that says an engagement ring has to include a diamond. To be so rigidly conventional in your thinking that you end up buying a stupid-looking little flake of the “correct” stone shows a disheartening lack of imagination. So in this respect, this ring as an indication of a crippling conformity and dull-mindedness.

Princess Diana’s engagement ring: 12-carat Ceylon sapphire.

No. 2, this ring has no artistry.  It’s basic, no-frills, stripped-down, and minuscule. It’s not the kind of ring that you, as the wearer, are likely to spend many moments gazing at because it is BORING. Why is your fiancé such a dullard? (See: No. 1, above.)

Photo credit: Paris Shop Girl

No. 3: For the same amount of money, you can get a nice little opal, or blue topaz (real stone, fake color, but pretty), or a very nice amethyst (I love amethysts), or lapis lazuli, or aquamarine. There’s a lot of colored stones to choose from, and a lot of rings that make an impression, a statement, has personality. And then, later, you can upgrade it (to a diamond, if you must) when you’re older and more financially secure.

BTW, those rings (above) with colored stones are from Paris Shop Girl and are 18K gold over sterling silver and they cost $44 each. Yeeeesh. By comparison, that young lady’s “diamond” engagement ring looks like it cost $10. Even for a starter-ring, it looks cheap. Which brings me to No. 4: Don’t marry a cheapskate. If quality matters to you, don’t do it. Cheapskates never change. Your entire married life will be about cutting corners, doing things half-assed, and settling for second-rate.

No.5: Rather than wear something so sub-par, so meagre in thought and deed, wear nothing at all. There’s no law that says you have to wear an engagement ring in order to be engaged. Your imaginary ring will do just fine.

So now you know why we, the people of the internet, should stop telling young ladies to just accept and be grateful for whatever cruddy little trinket they are offered. It’s simply more of the same brain washing that tells women to shut up and be honored by any kind of male attention they get. Ha! I say, Resist!

Since we are on the subject of jewelry, here’s a photo of Vivian Leigh’s jewelry box:

Vivian Leigh (1913 – 1967) starred as Scarlet O’Hara in the movie Gone With The Wind in 1939. Her jewelry is on sale at Sotheby’s London on Sept. 26.

I love looking into people’s jewelry boxes. When I was an appraiser I used to do a lot of jewelry boxes for older ladies, so that they could divvy up the heirlooms fairly amognst the children. A few times I was called in by a client who was hoping to find something of value to sell in order to meet living expenses. Those were sad, especially when they had nothing but fake gems in base metals.I would try to compliment the design or the “charm” of their jewelry, to soften the blow.

P.S. If an appraiser uses the word “charming” to describe your stuff, whether it’s furniture, objets d’art, or jewelry, that’s code for “junk”.

Photo credit: Delany Antique Clocks.

Everyone I know if Florida made it through Hurricane Irma just fine. No flooding — yay — and they got electric power turned back on within 48 hours. Still, it’s been an ordeal and the cats are still hung over from the crazy Hurricane Party they threw in their hotel room.

Speaking of hang overs, here’s Lickety this week:

I don’t know why Lickety and his mama, Candy, have now decided that the bookshelf in the dining room is their preferred napping spot this week. But that’s where they are hanging out these days. And Oh! these days!

What a gorgeous final week of Summer we’ve been having!

Dennis, from next door, in the flower bed that never flowered.


Taffy and Bibs, mortal enemies but fine napping buddies.

I have a seasonal wrap-up to present to you, Dear Readers, next week, so until then, have a great weekend.

Remember: You are all 24-karat magic, and your brilliance is flawless.


25 Comments, RSS

  1. Steve September 15, 2017 @ 1:22 am

    I had the same thought you did — WHY do people feel an engagement ring has to be a diamond? I can see how someone might be so cash-strapped that they can’t buy a super-expensive ring, but yeah, go for an opal or something. Even Swarovski!

    That clock. OMG.

    • Vivian September 17, 2017 @ 2:25 pm

      I can’t count the number of Ansonia clock that were presented to me as family heirlooms during my days as head of the Watch and Clock Dept. at Christie’s. They usually came with a story of a grandmother for whom this was a prized possession, and stories that she told the grandchildren about the vast value of the piece when, really, it was simply the most expensive thing in a working class household. I used to tell the heirs that the clocks were charming and it was so sad that the collectors that determined the market were not looking for this type of item. Blame it on the collectors.

  2. Megan September 15, 2017 @ 2:22 am

    Oh you are awful Vivian! I don’t know what to say… One of my work colleagues got a huge diamond from her fiancé and when she washed her hands in the ladies one day it flew across the room hit the wall and clattered to the floor. Having something that expensive I think might take the charm away. Another friend was offered a big pink Argyle diamond worth $23,000 ten years ago and that was just the stone. She declined it would be too worrying for her to have that on her hand. Maybe a simple wedding ring is the way to go? I think jewellery is over rated personally. I had a beautiful Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring, I chipped a sapphire. I was heart broken, the gem polisher could not see the chip but I could, he suggested I go and stop any woman in Pitt Street Sydney and ask to see their rings and they would all be chipped. I must say I have worn the ring a couple of times in the last 35 years, bit of a waste. I think it is better to put a deposit on a home than have a diamond, but that is just me. Love the cats, Taffy looks so cuddly, I love him if you get sick of him please post him to me. Wonder what the fiancé thought of the fracas, did he take back the proposal?

    • Vivian September 17, 2017 @ 2:18 pm

      I am! I am! I am terrible! But I know that a Ceylon sapphire is the BEST sapphire there is and I am sad that you’re not wearing it. There is so much bad, bad, bad jewelry out there, especially when it comes to sapphires, (the No. 1 colored stone sold, at least in America). You and your ring would elevate public taste by exposing the hoi poli to the good stuff.

      Taffy is a smooch fest so I’m pretty sure he’s guaranteed life time employment here in VivianWorld.

  3. Beth September 15, 2017 @ 5:34 am

    The most important thing you say in your post to my mind is this: “So now you know why we, the people of the internet, should stop telling young ladies to just accept and be grateful for whatever cruddy little trinket they are offered. It’s simply more of the same brain washing that tells women to shut up and be honored by any kind of male attention they get.” There is probably a woman out there for whom this ring would be perfect, but the fact that this guy got it so wrong is a good indication that these two might not be made for each other. (If you’re disappointed before the wedding, chances are you’re going to be way more disappointed afterward.) My husband was clever enough to know that I’d want something unique and my own, so he got me a stand-in ring–a silver Celtic knot–until we could design a ring together. The truth is, I love that little silver knot as much as I love my more expensive, more beautiful sapphire and diamond. He _knew_ me and that has made all the difference. It’s not about being greedy or unappreciative; it’s about feeling understood by the person who should know you best.

    • Casey September 15, 2017 @ 9:56 am

      Beth is right: there is probably someone who would love this ring. Not me, mind you, and obviously not the lady who received it, and that’s the problem. She’s not a bad person because she had expectations, but this is an important statement piece and her fiancé got it wrong. Maybe it’s the only piece of jewelry she ever wants to own, along with the wedding ring, so it has to be right. She’s got to look at it the rest of her life. I too wonder if the engagement lasted.

      My husband also proposed with a “holder” ring and it was the right thing to do. He said he had no taste for jewelry so we went shopping together and I got a wonderful pink sapphire ring, not as big as the Pink Star, but nice and exactly what I wanted.

      Right too about the male attention. A lot of the time it’s not honorable at all.

      • Vivian September 17, 2017 @ 2:07 pm

        A pink sapphire must have been rather hard to find, but worth the effort. Must have ben antique or estate, right? I love jewelry so I hope you don’t feel that I’m being nosy. I started my freelance career writing for jewelry magazines, specializing in vintage jewelry and jewlery history. My curiosity is professional!

    • Vivian September 17, 2017 @ 2:13 pm

      That’s the perfect proposal. Indeed, your husband is a man of taste and sensitivity. And you have described exactly the way a fiancée should feel whenever she looks at her engagement ring: understood. . . known . . . appreciated . . . important. . . visible. All those things that make you feel loved.

  4. jeanie September 15, 2017 @ 9:12 am

    There are two sides to this one — the technical, which you present perfectly. No ring is needed, diamonds aren’t a requirement. Fair enough.

    But I’m not sure I agree here: “something so sub-par, so meagre in thought and deed…” This may be the best they could do — and felt a ring of some kind was needed. Or a family thing. She may be a dainty little thing. Who knows? But the gesture matters and I suspect anyone giving someone a ring as a token is making a gesture of love not status.

    The thing is — who posted the Instagram? If it’s the bride then the marriage doesn’t seem to hold much future. But if it’s the bride’s so-called friend stirring things up or someone who saw the photo and used it to make their statement — well, that’s tacky as all get out. Maybe the bride adores it? Maybe she’s disappointed but understands. That’s the missing link. If she posted it, I’m not sure they even get to the altar.

    I will say I live in survivor’s guilt on diamonds, not wearing any of mine (which need to be sized down). I should hock them for the Home someday. I think I remain scarred by the fact that I dropped my cousin’s diamond in the lake 35 years ago when we were waterskiing (not on purpose, I hasten to add). One of the said Home diamonds is coming to her someday…

    • Vivian September 17, 2017 @ 2:09 pm

      Oh no! Diamonds in the vault! They are such beautiful stones, it makes me sad to think they aren’t glittering on your fingers.

      OMG, I would have a heart attack if I dropped had diamond in a lake but I must say, wearing diamonds while waterskiing is tres, tres fab-u-loso.

      • jeanie September 21, 2017 @ 10:03 pm

        I practically did. (So did my cousin.) We called divers down from a neighboring town — we were quite near shore but on a drop off. No luck (although I really think they found it and just didn’t say). Then we built a mega-screen and drained the bottom of the lake onto a big tarp. No ring.

        Yes, I do want to get them sized down — you’re right. If you just have them in a box under the bed they do no one good. It’s sell them to pay for home reno or size ’em down to wear! Which I probably will do once I pay for the shower…

  5. Katie September 15, 2017 @ 11:07 am

    Isn’t the biggest problem the posting of the complaint on social media? Even a happy marriage is bound to have a number of complaints and problems (maybe not a good sign for them to be starting to soon), but it’s still in bad taste (to put it lightly) to post those for the world to see, especially when we have to assume that the fiance purchased the ring with the best he had. Ugh. Icky all around to me.

    • Vivian September 17, 2017 @ 2:02 pm

      You’re right — there’s a lot more going on here than just a squabble over jewelry. And yes, it’s bad taste to shame your fiancé, even if it’s only in front of the dog.

  6. Marg-o September 15, 2017 @ 12:07 pm

    At first I was on the side of the poor guy who bought the ring, maybe it was all he could afford. But then I read your post through and now I’m thinking that he could have used a little more imagination. and right, what DID that ring cost him? Pennies? an engagement ring is not something to economize on, it’s the one piece of jewelry that stands for a lot.

    Here’s another way of thinking about it. What if this was your daughter who got this engagement ring. Would you be happy for her?

    Katie’s right. Why would you shame your fiancé on social media like this? But it was interesting to think about. A nice change from natural disasters and the man made disaster in the white house.

    • Vivian September 17, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

      Kids these days put every passing thought “out there”. I would like to know if she regretted venting like that in such a public way.

  7. George Clooney Look Alike September 15, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

    I wasn’t going to get involved, but the comments here are interesting. The young lady’s beloved could have done better.

    Where is your post title from? If a young man is so poor that he can’t buy a decent engagement ring then the romantic thing to do is write a poem about all the rings in the world that he would give her, and claim the ring around the moon as hers alone. Then he could give her a moonstone, and she’d be bragging about it to the world.

    • Vivian September 17, 2017 @ 1:59 pm

      I was looking for a song lyric that had the word “ring” in it — and there are many, but none of them particularly evocative — and I found a poem about rings that had this in the first stanza. I liked it. I’ve seen a ring around the moon, and it is witchy and wonderful, one of those phenomena that inspires awe.

  8. Kirra September 16, 2017 @ 5:10 am

    Ha! Gotta love an Australian themed post, and this is rather Australian. I agree with your thoughts Vivian and Beth, especially how cliched many weddings are with everyone ‘needing’ a diamond ring etc. Personally marriage isn’t for me so I don’t have to worry, don’t like wearing rings either.

    However I have just gone to a wonderful march in support of marriage equality here in Australia, since the Government is currently conducting a postal survey of Australians to see if they think gay people should have at the right to marry. Seriously crazy shit. I feel like it’s our Brexit/Trump moment and it could all go horribly wrong. The march was lovely though, with sunshine all day and after my friend and I went to the pub!

    Love the cats snoozing in the sun and under the glasses on the bookshelf. We are looking forward to summer down here. Thanks as always for your wonderful weekly blog.

    • Vivian September 17, 2017 @ 1:57 pm

      I just read up on that postal vote and the march in Adelaide. You can’t stop the inevitable evolution of society, so I’m sure the Australians will vote for equality because it’s the only right thing to do. Good for you that you put your feet on the street — a show of numbers helps the cause!

  9. Elizabeth Schmid September 17, 2017 @ 7:38 am

    I never had an engagement ring and we are still together 45 years later…..
    you are right – a cheery opal might have been more fun.
    So many people jewelry obsessed – and status obsessed.
    Your cats brighten my day!

    • Vivian September 17, 2017 @ 1:55 pm

      And you’re a dog person! I’ll have to tell the herd that they’ve got canine cult appeal.

  10. Becky September 19, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

    Just saw on the evening news that when weddings and rings that are the most expensive the marriage is short lived.
    Love that Lickety! He is the picture of complete relaxation.

  11. Carol September 20, 2017 @ 9:25 am

    I started with a teensy ring that was even plainer, picture that! But it was what he chose for me on a very small budget. I got to the point where I wasn’t wearing it at all. It looked ridiculous on my hand. I would have never publicly complained about it, though.
    A few years ago, I chose my own. It’s not huge, just tastefully beautiful with an emerald cut and small diamonds surrounding the stone and on the band.
    Love, love, love when you post the kitties!

    • Vivian September 27, 2017 @ 9:20 am

      I promise to put more kitties into my blog. I take hundreds of pictures of them every year, so I might as well USE them.

  12. elizabeth September 20, 2017 @ 1:52 pm

    I see a new book on the horizon. You have kept many pictures of cats during the years.
    Why not a history of dear Candy and her babies, and Oscar, and other sweeties who came and went
    to the Swift/Top Cat residence?
    What a treat.

    Cat lovers wd buy it in a minute!

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