She must learn again to speak
starting with I
starting with We
starting as the infant does
with her own true hunger
and pleasure
and rage.

-- Marge Piercy

Six, Seven, Zero... Ring

“It’s a European cut,” said the sales girl with a sigh, taking the ring carefully from the age-stained satin of its tiny box. “They don’t even cut diamonds like this anymore.” She turned the ring this way and that, and even in the nondescript lighting of the antique store, Technicolor sparks shot from the stone. I’d never seen a piece of jewelry so alive.

Impossible to believe that each facet of this magical diamond had been cut by hand; the band was obviously not machine fabricated either, with tiny imperfections, infinitesimal beading on the prongs, a slight difference in the angle of the marquise bezels flanking the stunning center stone. I slipped it on; it would have to be sized. But even stopped at the curve of my first knuckle, the ring looked like it had been made for my hand. Hand made.

When Mark and I decided to get married, the first thing he asked me was what kind of ring I wanted. As we are both diehard fans of anything used, worn, vintage, original, hand-crafted—whether it be a 1968 Pontiac GTO, a WWII leather flight jacket, or a 1920’s platinum engagement ring—the answer was obvious. A sunny Saturday in late spring, the quest was on.

First stop, the Star Antique Mall in downtown Snohomish.

It was the first thing we saw. Literally. At the top of the staircase leading up from the front door was a tall glass cabinet, filled with ornate opera glasses, filigreed tea saucers, brittle parchment postcards illustrated in watercolor ink and faded 24-carat gold, and other decidedly un-jewelry-like ephemera. But smack in the center of the center shelf, popping and fizzing like a Fourth of July sparkler, was THE RING.

We looked at a dozen other rings over the course of that week. Mark is the quintessential Virgo, a man who researches thoughtfully and learns everything he can prior to any kind of investment, large or small. But there was no other ring, and we both knew it.

Still, "Are you sure it's the one you really want?" asked my careful, thoughtful Virgo.

I smiled. "It looks exactly like the way I feel about you," I replied.

The ring was on consignment, so we asked the seller about getting it sized, whether the age of the piece was prohibitive, if the setting was in good shape, etc. We were assured it was in awesome shape, and even got the name of a well-respected jeweler who specialized in estate pieces; he would size it with no problem.

Two weeks later, sitting by the fire pit in our beautiful back yard, Mark got down on one knee, pulled a star out of his pocket and slid it, gleaming, onto my finger, and told me I was an angel, straight from heaven. It was the most perfect marriage proposal in the history of marriage proposals, straight from the heart of a definitive Hero.

I said yes, of course, and the most perfect, one-of-a-kind, hand-made, timeless symbol of a perfect, one-of-a-kind love was sparkling on my hand.

* * * * * * * * *

“There’s no way I can fix this.”

The jeweler’s face had gone ashen, the delicate platinum setting in pieces in his palm. “It’s too old…see how thin the metal is? There’s no way to restore it. At best, the setting will have to be replaced, but I don’t know if that can even be done, realistically. I’m sorry.”

I had been doing laundry, pulling sheets out of the dryer. The ring had caught on the metal door latch and bent the prongs. The damage seemed slight in the moment, and we had been told the setting was solid; in truth, ninety years of love and wear had left the platinum mounting tissue-thin, and it literally fell apart in the jeweler’s hand as he tried to assess the damage.

I sobbed. Less than a week after the proposal, and I’d killed my magical, only-one-in-the-world engagement ring. Doing laundry.

Mark was grim and determined. “I’ll take care of this, honey. I promise. We’ll get it restored. It’ll be okay.”

That evening, driving to a gathering at a friend’s house, I was talking to God and trying not to cry (again), trying harder not to completely freak out about the jeweler’s dire final assessment. It was one of those times when praying was actually causing me to feel worse; the beloved and familiar affirmations of faith and miracles making a part of me want to start screaming.

So I did, in a manner of speaking. I asked for, demanded really, a sign; an obvious message that we were going to be able to find a jeweler who could fix my ring. Right freaking now.

No exaggeration—seconds later a car cut in front of me from the adjacent lane. Close. Very close. Too damn close. I pumped the brakes, heart in my throat, feeling anger start to rise behind the fear. Then I saw the license plate:

670 RNG

Yes, ring.

And yes, you better believe I whipped out my Angel Numbers book from the glove compartment, right then, right there. “670: Your prayers about material issues have been heard and are answered by God. Have no fear or worries."

I arrived at the gathering, humbled and dazed in the way that only a serious Yoohoo?! straight from heaven can make you. And I was about to get another one.

After hugs and hellos one of the women in the group handed me a small plastic capsule, the kind you get for a quarter from a gumball machine. She said it was from her daughter, a small, sweetly serious 6-year-old with whom I had done some energy work a couple of weeks earlier. The woman told me she had no idea what her daughter had put in the capsule, but the child had insisted that she give it to me as soon as I arrived. I pried off the lid…inside was a children’s costume ring, along with a tiny nugget of carnelian, shaped like a tilted heart.

Carnelian is a stone of healing.

* * * * * * * * *

 “I kept hearing these radio commercials for Katie O. Jewelers…how they specialize in the repair of antique and estate jewelry.”

Mark had been talking to God, too…although, I’m certain, much more calmly and with much less attitude than I had.

During the initial research phase of the ring acquisition, Mark had gone to Katie O. Jewelers and spoken at length with the owner about vintage rings, and found out they made new settings to replicate antique ones in the event of a needed repair, because actual restoration of vintage pieces was nearly impossible due to their delicate nature.

Mark went back to them with my shattered ring to see if there was anything they could do. Their goldsmith, a man with 38 years of experience repairing and restoring jewelry, took one look at my ring and said above all else, we want to restore this to its original design, as opposed to recreating the fractured mount, because it's such a unique and exquisitely made piece.

But wait a minute. I thought restoring a vintage ring was impossible...

Big toothy grin.

As it turns out, the goldsmith would be able to restore it, thank you very much—actually building the platinum up to an optimal strength and thickness, all while preserving the original design, because…wait for it

Two days before I had bent the setting on the door of the dryer, the jeweler had spent forty thousand dollars on a laser welder—the only piece of equipment capable of restoring something as delicate as my 1920’s platinum ring.

And, it was the only laser welder in the entire state of Washington.

And, the jewelry store is fifteen minutes from our house.

Go on. Have a Twinkie.

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Exprayeriment #9 -- Divine Protection

The Clock Is Ticking, Could I Please Get That Clarity Now?