We'd been talking about getting married for a while. After Daddy got sick, we talked about it some more. Finally, one night, I asked what needed to happen before we were officially "engaged," rather than "probably gonna marry each other someday." He said he needed a ring. And I said no, that wasn't necessary. I don't know what you've heard about musicians, but mine does not make a lot of money. Plus, his car had just died and so there was that to pay for. A symbolic piece of jewelry was not required. After all, I am a modern woman. But he was insistent about it, so I said that the ring we got now didn't have to be The One Ring. He liked that idea, and then he started talking about the ring he was going to buy me when he got rich. Apparently, it's going to be so ridiculously expensive that we're going to keep it in a safe most of the time, which sounds more useless than a regular engagement ring.
Josh has a thing about diamonds. Aside from the whole blood diamonds issue, there is the fact that diamond engagement rings were a marketing device invented by De Beers. Also, he says that De Beers artificially inflates the price on diamonds by hording them and keeping them scarce. My view is that it's just a shiny thing anyway. The value of it is entirely based on its shininess and not on any qualities like usefulness or scarcity. So the price is artificially high? It was all made up in the first place. But I wasn't requiring a diamond, since I didn't require a ring at all. That was his idea, though I would certainly accept a free piece of jewelry, so as not to hurt his feelings.
The next day, to show him that I was serious about getting serious, I spent some time ring shopping. I poked around on Etsy, just to give him examples of things that I liked rather than making specific requests. I sent him an email with half a dozen links to various rings. I was very budget-minded. The most expensive one I sent him was $175, and the cheapest was $22. Only the most expensive one had a diamond, an uncut one at that, which I thought was kinda neat. But the rest were pearls or had no stone at all. You can get white topazes and white sapphires, which look like diamonds, but I didn't like that idea. Just be yourself, little sapphire. If I was going to have a non-traditional ring, I wanted it to look like one, instead of it just being an imposter. I was prepared to rock my weirdo engagement ring, to own my eccentricity, to make others wish they were awesome enough to get such a cool ring. In my list, I even included one that had a puzzle piece on it, to further encourage him to go any way he wanted with this, including a silly way. I felt terrible sending such a gimme list and ended with a line about how none of it mattered at all, it was just a ring, it's him I want.
When I saw him at the end of the day, I immediately asked if he thought I was awful and shallow. He said he hadn't read the email. Then he said that the dog had discovered a new archaeological find in the yard.
While I was looking online, he was driving all over town. He took a crash course in diamonds online and then hit some pawn shops. He found The Ring at the Raleigh Jewelry and Loan, a shop that seemed to specialize more in guns. The guy behind the counter was mistrustful at first. Then Josh said he wanted to buy that ring right there, and the guy figured out A.) Josh was not casing the joint, and B.) he was going to commit his life to some girl. Suddenly aglow in the contagious happiness of a proposal, he was helpful and friendly. Apologizing that he didn't deal a lot in engagement rings, he pulled out a tiny gift box from under the counter. It was truly hideous, made of glittery turquoise plastic with a pink bow that Josh had to tape on.
The man asked him: if I was such a great gal, why was he buying me a ring in a pawn shop? I don't quite understand the sales technique. Even pawn shop owners believe the stigma.
Josh does not believe the stigma. I do not believe the stigma, because it's the same one that says that thrift stores and yard sales are for poor people. Being who we are, it would have been, I dunno, wrong somehow to buy a brand new ring. Plus, at pawn shops, you can negotiate. Josh got them to knock $100 off the price to get it to $650. Later, when we took it to a real live jewelry store to have it resized, the professionals estimated its value at $1800.
That is the kind of man that I want to marry. Makes me all hot just thinking about that kind of savvy shopping.
He worried before he gave it to me that it was not The Ring, the right ring. The funny thing is that as soon as he offered it to me as a way of offering himself, it became The Ring. Like the stone and the metal it's made of, the value is what we attach to it. That would have been true of any diamond or pearl or puzzle piece ring he gave me. So it was this one, which turned out to be just the one I wanted.