On our 19th wedding anniversary my husband looked at me and said, “We need to get you a ring.” “OK,” I responded, a little surprised. “Let’s go look at rings and diamonds. Maybe we can design one and have it done for our 20th.”
We started looking at diamonds on line and both became interested in what's called an "old mind cut". Antique old mine cuts are diamonds that were found and cut at the "old mine", meaning India the location of the first diamond mine. And they were also cut the "old way", meaning faceted by hand.
These diamonds are much more rough and clunky looking than modern diamonds. They are also not as sparkly or brilliant looking because the skill of faceting diamonds had not yet been perfected. They had not yet figured out how to bring the bottom of the diamond to a point, like in the modern brilliant cut diamond. Because it lacked a point, much of the light and sparkle leaked out the bottom, instead of reflecting out the top as it it does in modern, lazer cut diamonds.
One day while scrolling through diamonds online, one jumped out at me and I totally fell in love. It was much less expensive than the other diamonds and had been for sale for a while. No one else seemed to want it. But I just felt strongly that this diamond was mine.
I asked my husband to scroll through the pictures on line and see if he could find the one I loved, and he was able to pick it out on his first try. I asked how he knew and he responded, "Come on. I've been married to you for 19 years. I just know."
The Four C'S
This diamond didn't score very high in the four C's of diamond quality. It was cut asymmetrically and looked kind of lopsided.
Its clarity wasn't what you would call spectacular, having several inclusions. Its color was rated a "W", which is just about as close to the bottom of the rating scale as you can get.
But this "low grade", "cheap" diamond resonated with me and made me smile. It seemed to symbolize my marriage and my life much more closely than a "high quality" diamond would. Our marriage was murky and messy. Parts of our marriage had been incredibly hard, leaving scars and abrasions behind.
My life had always been kind of cloudy...things had definitely never been crystal clear. I always felt a little imbalanced and lopsided. This rock just seemed to be a good authentic fit.
So we ended up buying it online, sight unseen.
The company selling the diamond specialized in creating vintage style rings so we also hired them to make the ring for us, and my husband and I set out to create a design.
I gathered some pictures of antique rings I liked for inspiration, and my husband put together a drawing. We sent the pictures and the drawing in to the jeweler.
My Husband's Sketch
Filled to the Max with Meaning
We wanted to pack as much meaning and symbolism into the ring as possible, and decided to have two accent diamonds on each side of the main stone to represent our two children.
The jeweler sent us back a computer mock up.
We went back and forth a few more times and did several more revisions.
The Grass Is Always Greener
While waiting for the final computer images, I become more curious about the actual color of the diamond. I found out that antique diamonds were usually lower on the color scale, as diamonds from these old mines tended to have more color than those from the new mines, where colorless, clear diamonds were more common.
I sent the jeweler a picture of a brownish colored diamond I thought looked similar to the color in the picture we had originally seen on line. I asked him if it was similar.
He wrote back saying, "No, this stone is more brown. Yours is a light yellow."
For a moment, a feeling of disappointment came over me. Yellow was one of my least favorite colors.
And brown holds a lot of significance for me. There is a saying I love which is, "Why is the grass greener over there?" Because there was a big pile of shit over there."
I use the metaphor of shit in my own life a lot and teach that metaphor to my clients. If we can learn to sit in the shit long enough, and self soothe through the experience of it, eventually the grass will grow. And the greater the manure is, the greener the grass will be.
I was disappointed that my ring wasn't going to have some "shitty" symbolism in it. But then the thought popped into my head, "You've had a lot of shit in your life. It's time for a little sunshine."
I grinned from ear to ear and dropped the disappointment. I couldn't wait to see my yellow ring. As I learned more and more about it, I fell more and more in love. With the whole process.
The Final Plans
The final computer images came...
and we gave the go ahead to start the process.
Getting Anxious? Or Feeling With Faith. The Choice Is Yours
I felt inspired throughout this process. Inspired that Jay and I had so serendipitously decided upon the stone, inspired to hire this particular jeweler, who had a love and appreciation for these type of antique diamonds, inspired to trust and have faith, take risks and thoroughly enjoy the process.
But faith doesn’t always go off without a hitch, and feelings of anxiety would creep up inside me...about not having seen the diamond in person, about the possibility of being ripped off by the jeweler, or about the fact that I could end up with something I wasn't happy with.
In those moments of discomfort, I refocused my attention upon learning more, rather than upon worrying more. I got on line and did more and more research.
I learned that the bruting machine, an invention that made it possible to cut diamonds into a truly round shape, wasn't invented until the late 1800's. It turns out that the older a cut diamond is, the more asymmetrical it usually is.
A lopsided old mine cut diamond isn’t necessisarly a reflection of a poor cut, so much as it is an indication that it is a very old diamond, shaped before people got good at shaping them.
I ended up on the phone with a gemologist and appraiser in New York, who talked with me for free for half an hour about the fact that this type of diamond is incredibly rare. Old mine cut diamonds with a W,X,Y or Z rating that are over a carat in size are almost always re-cut to maximize the color.
Old mine cuts de-accentuate color. The crude cut, lopped off looking bottom leaves what looks like a hole when you look at it from the top. All the color leaks out of this hole rather than reflecting back out through the top of the diamond.
When a yellow W,X,Y, or Z diamond is re-cut to accentuate color, the stone's color becomes much more bright and vibrant and can be graded as a "fancy" diamond, making it worth almost four times as much as they are in their original antique form. He said "I haven't seen an old mine cut like this in years...they've all been re-cut and sold for more.
I decided to ask our jeweler where he had gotten the stone and why he hadn't re-cut it. He responded that he had bought it at an estate sale and that, "It's too special a stone, and has way too much character to be re-cut and ruined with modern lazer technology."
I finally got an email that the ring was complete, and I smiled at the pictures.
I loved it! And told them so, and they immediately shipped it out.
I was so excited to put in on when it came. It exceeded all expectations.
I was surprised at how colorless it looked in indoor lighting.
My favorite thing about it, however, was the light yellow color that shone through in natural light.
All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter
That "W" color that had lowered its cost, reminded me of all the sunshine I had in my life. That even on bad days, there's a sun shining behind those clouds.
Things aren't always as they seem. On paper, this ring may seem cheap and low quality, with a diamond that doesn't sparkle with brilliance and fire like a good diamond should. But to me it is precious. It is precious because of all that it represents. It is precious because of how it came into my life, and how the creating of it has impacted me and my marriage for good.
It has grown my gratitude, strengthened my belief in faith and trust, and made me feel special...unique and one of a kind...a little bit of perfect wrapped up inside all my human imperfections.
It's worth cannot be found in the sum of money that we paid for it...which wasn't very much.