I’ve probably written before how my mother and father were first cousins and they married through the conspiring match making of her mother and his father. My mother was 36 at the time, my father 30. She lived in Brooklyn, he lived in Sicily. They had never met. My grandmother eventually convinced my mother to meet him and they took a trip to Sicily, where they married three weeks after their arrival. The rest is history.
However, I am not sure if they exchanged rings during their wedding ceremony. My father was a laborer and never wore a ring until after he retired. I don’t know if he bought it here or it was saved from the wedding. My mother never wore a gold band, as far back as I can remember, but she did have a wedding band. This wedding band was the only one I ever remember her wearing and she rarely took it off. This wedding band of eight small, 6 point diamonds, that was set in platinum, was the only one I ever saw on her finger. She loved that ring and with it came a story.
I don’t know how many times I heard the story of the ring, but enough times for me to still remember the details. Some time, while my brother and I were still toddlers, in the early years of her marriage, my mother went out to buy herself that ring. Apparently, what she had been wearing, if anything, wasn’t what she wanted. I guess if you wait till 36 to get married, you should have a ring you love. So she went to find herself one, and she did.
When she came home with the ring, my father was upset. I think the ring cost her a little over $200. My father told her she was taking the food out of our mouths by buying that ring. That upset my mother to no end and I’m sure she let him know it. You see, when my father came here he “didn’t have a pot to piss in” according to my mother. She had to even go out and buy him underwear! Before he was even in the picture, she had helped pay off her mother’s house with two of her siblings and bought and sold a couple of houses on her own, making a profit. She also worked for many years in a factory and saved her money. She was the one with savings! So when my father took issue with the ring…she took issue with him. Unfortunately, instead of the ring having a happy memory attached to it, it now had this story.
I can’t tell you how many times my mother described the ring to us. This ring has eight, six point diamonds in it and it’s set in “platinum.” We didn’t know what platinum was, but learned it was more valuable than gold. As proud and happy my mother was of that ring, what she said she really had heart set on was a one carat diamond ring. She always lamented about the fact she never had one. I wish she had gotten herself one, but she probably felt it cost too much money.
When I got engaged, my husband didn’t have a ring to present to me, and it was just as well. After hearing my mother’s story all through the years, I knew what kind of engagement ring I wanted. I told him we would go pick it out together, and I’m sure he was relieved at not having to make that decision on his own. A friend of mine knew a jeweler who sold rings on the side at a much lower price. I spoke to him on the phone and told him specifically what I wanted: a one carat, high quality diamond, in a platinum setting with a matching platinum wedding band. The jeweler brought a few settings with him for our meeting a beautiful diamond stone. We picked out the setting and had the rings made. Later I had them appraised and I did get a very good deal on them.
I’ve worn my engagement ring over 30 years now, the wedding band 29. I’ve never had to lament about my ring to my daughters, and tell them I wished I had a different stone or setting. I made sure they learned about platinum. I hope one day, when they get engaged, they each get the ring of their dreams.
Today, my mother's wedding band sits in my jewelry box, along with other heirloom pieces, I will pass down to my daughters. I can pass down the ring, but not the memories it holds. I love that ring because when I look at it, it takes me back to my childhood and memories of my mother, and I miss her so much.