ring(ing) in 2007

It was just before dinnertime on Thanksgiving and we were puttering around in the car downtown. I turned the music down lower so as not to annoy my parents too much when, my dad blurted out, "Soooo, Eric, when are you going to ask my daughter to marry you?" I froze in my seat then did what came naturally, I reverted back to my sulky teenage years and delivered a whiny, accusatory, "Daaaaaad!" He chuckled a bit, knowing that he crossed a line, and I chuckled a bit too, knowing that I finally had my parents' blessing.

It wasn’t long after that night that I really started thinking about an engagement ring. I was at point zero—I had no idea what I wanted. The one thing that haunted my thoughts was my mother's old mantra, "When you get married, that engagement rock better be as big as your pinky nail!" That line always scared me as a child (well, either that or her crazy-lady cackle that always followed)—I distinctly remember trading in my Christmas diamonds for telescopes and bikes much to her disappointment on more than one holiday occasion.

Pretty...and tiny! I started out with this
18K Gold Black Diamond Stacking Ring.
No one knew much about black
diamonds and I liked the hammered
gold and modern shape of this ring.
Available at www.clay-pot.com,
about $710

Eric and I started poking around on the Internet for rings, but I'd usually end up teetering off-task towards clothes and handbags. After scouring a few sites, I realized that I wanted something unfussy, modern and not too showy. As with every woman getting engaged, I wanted to have my ring set apart from the crowd, and I was thinking an emerald or ruby, rather than the traditional, predictable diamond, would do the trick.

In my family, we don't do surprises (minus my dad's burning question that Thanksgiving night). We each pick out our gifts for holidays and birthdays way ahead of time to ensure we are getting exactly what we want. It makes things so easy! I figured things would work the same way with my engagement ring. I didn’t want to end up with some chintzy piece of jewelry, so, like any woman in my family, I took the reins.


Simply elegant. 1989 Platinum Emerald and
Diamond Ring. Available at
www.jewelry.ross-simons.com, about $11,000.

"Can you just believe it? Oh, how the times have changed..." my aunt half-heartedly tsk-tsked as we were gazing at engagement rings, "You're here, Eric's not — are you sure he's going to be OK with this?" She could barely mask her delight at another excuse to visit the diamond store. We made dizzying rounds at one of Cincinnati's finest diamond showrooms, EDB's. I was trying to stay focused and keep my cool while all the salesgirls chirped and cooed, leading me this way and that.

After making it through the first half of the glass cases, I found a vintage-set emerald and diamond ring on sale. Right when I set my eyes on it, I knew that it was the one. I matched it with a diamond eternity wedding band and was holding my hand out in front of me admiringly when the saleswoman interrupted my daze, "Now, just wait a minute. You’ve barely done any searching. Let's look at some diamonds. I know you like hearts — hold on a second, I have just the diamond for you."

I was skeptical. Usually when a salesperson says something like that, I end up feigning interest and slinking back to my original decision. Although, she did say "heart" and just the other day in Nylon Magazine, I dog-eared a page with a Cartier heart-cut diamond ring that was to die for (before that picture, I didn't even know they cut diamonds into hearts!).

Jumped the gun with this one. EDB's
Diamond and Emerald Ring in
18KT White Gold. Available at
about $2,574.

She came out with a necklace dangling through her fingers and a piece of bling swinging freely that couldn’t be missed from a football field away. In my eyes, that rock could’ve helped ships dock in a storm; it could’ve hailed planes in safely through the fog. At first I felt intimidated, then shocked, then a little disgusted. The diamond was just too big and I unintentionally balked aloud, "“Oh, no. This one isn’t for me. Oh no-no-no-no! That is way too big! I couldn't poss—"

The women sort of formed a half circle around me; shading me from the fluorescent lights. I feared I was about to have an intervention of sorts. There were no hands-on-hips or waggling fingers, but the postures was definitely in their collective tone of voice.

"Listen, I'm going to tell you this now. This is just over two carats. Sweetheart, my ring is over five. You can never have too many carats," the salesgirl asserted.

"Chako, you're ridiculous! This is not too big, if anything you will want to upgrade in a few years! Listen to your aunt, darling, and don't be a fool! Are you sure you have the same blood as me? How could a Suzuki girl be saying this?" my aunt huffed.

The inspiration. Cartier Platinum Heart
Shaped Diamond Paved with Brilliants.
Available at www.cartier.com.

"Ha ha ha! Oh, little one, you are too funny! Too big?!"

"Really, girl, you can never have enough. Remember, you'll have this for the rest of your life." Those last words resonated with me; they bounced around in my head, ricocheting off my doubts until they softened up. I was definitely getting a tongue-lashing—what seemed like a come-on-you-should-know-better scolding from a council of elders before my walkabout in Diamond Outback. Soon, they would start circling me and chanting, "It's never too much! IT'S NEVER TOO MUCH!" with their rainsticks and incense. With all the mounting pressure, I was sort of frightened into saying anything but, "Yes, OK. I'll try it, that is—let's see some settings..."

I've got to admit that my initial rejection of the diamond passed quickly (I also found out it wasn't a conflict diamond and that was very important to me). It was sort of like dipping your foot into a jacuzzi and finding it too hot, until easing yourself in—soon you've got your arms behind your head and you toes swirling in bubbly.


My Ring. Hearts can run the risk of
looking silly, but this ring definitely has
its charm. It's 100% me.

It wasn’t a minute later that I was frantically scouring the velvet cases for a setting, puttying the diamond into place, and sliding rings down my finger for a look. I found a simple setting that would let the centerpiece really stand out and once the diamond was placed into it, I seriously felt woozy. I'm not sure if my soul was being sucked into that sparkly bauble or if I just couldn't get over the fact that I was clearly going against nearly everything I thought I wanted in a ring or if—but it was beautiful. Scratch that—it was beyond beautiful—it was mesmerizing. And through all of that confusion, I knew that no matter what I thought before, this was It.

Oh, I really am my mother's daughter.

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