About the Ring

Ring photo3.21 diamond SOLD for $22,000

I received the ring three months after my grandmother passed. It arrived in the mail on a winter day. I unwrapped the packaging and opened the box. Its emerald-cut diamond, set in platinum, brought back a memory of her hands—her long, piano-player fingers and perfect manicure, her regal gestures. The ring embodied her unabashed style. She loved bold-patterned clothes, and chunky jewelry. My grandmother was a golden girl to the hilt.

If my grandmother was made of gold, then I am made of soil. To look at the ring is to be reminded of our differences. I’ve never been glamorous and, to her dismay, I spent my post-college summers pruning grapes, tending peppers, and shucking corn on a 20 -acre farm in southern Oregon. For eight seasons I lived with dirt tattooed into the cracks of my palms.

“Stoop labor,” she’d grumble to me over the phone. “When are you going to get a real job?”

If she were alive now, she’d be happy to hear that I no longer work at that farm. But my lifestyle remains rugged, and no more suited to a diamond ring. I travel around in a van for a part of each year, and my passion for skiing, hiking, paragliding, and odd-jobs-on-the-fly keeps me in tattered jeans and Gore-tex. Though I clean up well, a diamond ring remains as foreign to my lifestyle as a sterling tea set.

“What should I do with it?” I asked my mom. I’d been wearing the ring for two weeks afraid to leave it in my van. The safest place was on my hand and, the truth was, it was growing on me. I enjoyed the way it cast rainbows on walls and ceilings. I even liked the envious stares. One woman stalked it with her gaze, like a house cat tracking a mouse. Still, it just wasn’t me.

“Put it in a safe deposit box until you get married, or have children” my mom advised.

But even at 34 years, when I try to sort out my thoughts about marriage, I just feel confused. I have been engaged to be married and then disengaged, and have dabbled in commitment only to retreat. And, so far, my maternal instincts extend about as far as Labrador puppies. But I am not cynical. I know I believe in love.

Like my mom advises, I could put the ring in a storage unit ‘just in case’ I eventually marry, or have a child, to whom I could then to pass it along.

But I’ve recently become fascinated by other possibilities. I’m mesmerized by the gem’s locked-up potential, which lies like a frozen energy.

On a hike with a friend it occurred to me: I would auction the ring. I would transmute the ring’s great worth into something vital and useful. I would direct the money toward people I’ve met in my travels who demonstrate a true commitment to the world.

In the process, I may learn a lesson or two about commitment myself.

My grandmother and I were different in many ways. She was married over 50 years, me, never at all. She was a Wall Street investor, and I’m a wandering artist. But I know that my grandmother was a remarkable woman. We both loved travel. I will never forget our journeys together--especially our last one—how our last walk down a suburban block became the journey of a lifetime.

I’m not sure what my grandmother would think of this. She was a philanthropist in her own right, writing regular checks to the Salvation Army and UNICEF. I have lived much of my life wishing I could please her, wishing I was the successful broker, or high-powered attorney she envisioned. But I remind myself that I’m on my own life journey now—no longer trying to living out her dreams.

I think, in the end, my grandmother finally supported me for who I am. She began to accept that a page was turning, and that I am part of a new generation, that I hold a different set of values. During her last year of life, she began to look at me with a new expression, a softer eye, like she was letting me go. It seemed that the thing she was finally understood was this:

This time is my time. It’s my turn.

Ring Specs:

Ring weight: 3.6 dwt
Manufacturer: JB Inc.

2.75 ct. Emerald-cut diamond, VVS2 clarity, F-G color
2 Baguette diamonds (3.5x2.5 mm .12 ct each) VS clarity G-I color
2 Baguette diamonds (3.0x2.5 mm) .11 ct each) VS clarity G-I color

Total diamond weight: 3.21 ct.

Estimated value $22,000

Reserve price $20,000

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