Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Saga of The Rings

No, this isn't the Lord of the Rings and it doesn't feature hobbits or elves, though it may seem as long as the trilogy by the time I tell this whole tale. This is the story of Champs' and my wedding rings. It is long and full of details. In the interest of retaining history for my family and to celebrate Champs' 40th birthday present to me, I tell it now:

The story begins before I even knew Champs. One day at the Mall of America, I stopped in at Whitehall Jewelers and fell in love with a blue topaz ring. It featured a large oval stone in a basket setting. I put the ring on layaway but only got it about half paid off.

After I met Champs and it became obvious that we were going to be married and equally obvious that neither of us had much money, I gave him my layaway slip and told him he could pay off the ring and give it to me or return it and put the money toward another ring. I assured him I would be happy with whatever he chose.

As it turned out, he visited the store without me and the only option they would give him was to pay off the layaway and take the same ring. In April, when he was home, he called them to send the ring to him in Illinois. Even though he had paid it off, they called to get my permission to ship it to him. Man, was he pissed off! He wanted it to be a surprise for when I came to visit him in Illinois, and they ruined the surprise. Oh well. He still managed to surprise me when he proposed and there I was, engaged with a fashion ring.

Champs was bummed that I had a ring he hadn't had any part in choosing and so we agreed that once we had some money, we would go about choosing a new ring for me before we got married. On a side note, I offered Champs my school ring to wear until we got married; kind of like his own engagement ring. He liked the idea and took the ring gladly. That felt pretty special, especially since we were living in different states the first month of our engagement. About two days after we were engaged, he lost the ring as we were out walking at the University of Illinois Arboretum and he was frantic about it. We searched and searched, but couldn't find it. The next day, we went back and traced our steps methodically. After about 10 minutes, I found the ring! Relieved, he wrapped the ring in yarn to make it fit snugly. He wore it on his left pinkie right up to our wedding day.

Fast forward a few months. We planned an October wedding. In May, Champs moved to Minnesota and we took out a loan on his truck to help pay wedding expenses. It wasn't a large loan, in fact, we had it paid off in a year, but it gave us some cash to work with. About this time, Mongomery Ward's went out of business and offered all their diamond jewelry at about a 65% discount. My sister-in-law and I went over and found a gold ring on clearance for about $200.00. I knew this was not a ring I would want to wear; it was a cocktail style ring with five rows of small diamonds that proceeded diagonally across the ring. I also knew that it was worth more than they were asking for. I called Champs to discuss it with him and bought it, my heart in my throat.

Thankfully, I was able to sell it the next day at work! I had a friend who had been a jeweler and still had friends in the business. She took the ring to her friend who offered me $550.00 for it. I was ecstatic! I had turned a tidy $350.00 profit and escaped a ring I knew I could never enjoy wearing.

By now, it was time to get serious and pick out wedding rings. In September, we took some of our wedding money (including my little profit) and went to the Shane Company. We spent hours looking d looked at rings for each of us. For me, we bought a beautiful ring with a heart on each side. Inside the hearts are one small marquee diamond and two small round diamonds. We had the stone from my original engagement ring mounted on it (trust me, there was no way we could afford a diamond to put in it!). Now, the blue topaz is about a 2 caret oval stone, so it is huge. They had to use a 6 prong setting to hold it and when I got it, I was amazed at how high off my finger it sat! Remember, it had been in a basket setting. Even so, it was just the most beautiful ring! Champs said that we would start out with this ring, but in five years, he wanted to have me transfer it to my right hand and he would buy me a diamond wedding set.

We also choose a ring for Champs. It was gold with a "waves" that went up from either side of the ring and crossed diagonally paralell to each other with a white gold stripe that flowed diagonally across the band between the waves. It had 3 diamonds set in the white gold. Like Champs said, why should the woman be the only one to get diamonds?

Once we had our rings picked out, we discussed a wedding band for me. Shane Company didn't offer custom jewelry, and the shape of my band dictated that I have a ring specially made to fit into the niche of the band. I went back to my friend at work and she agreed to make a gold band with a small marquee diamond to fit into the niche. It would be small, since we didn't have much money to spend. She took my engagement ring and casted a mold to use to design the new band. Unfortunately, the mold broke in the kiln as they were casting my new band. This occurred two days before my wedding and, given the amount of time needed for molding, casting, firing, etc, there was no way I would get a wedding band. So, on the afternoon of my October wedding, I took off my engagement ring, tied it to the ring bearer's pillow, and that is the ring that Champs put on my finger. My engagement ring had become my wedding ring. I didn't mind at all; lots of women have just one band for their finger.

Fast forward 4 years. One day Champs was helping my brother trim the trees around the soffets of his house. One branch that he was holding snapped out of his grip, slicing his left hand badly enough to require stitches. Champs took off his wedding ring and, he thought, put it in his pocket. It was the last time he ever saw the ring. We searched everywhere in Paddy's house and yard to no avail; his wedding ring was gone.

I put a claim on the insurance for his ring and when we got the check, we went back to the Shane Company. Champs couldn't find his original ring and they didn't have anything he liked. So, we went to Helzbreg's, where we found a similar ring, but not quite what he wanted. Looking for more options, we went to Goodman jewelers, who have been in Minnesota for years and years. They had a beautiful ring that looked almost exactly like his old ring, down to the three diamonds. Only this one was nicer; it was heavier and had the "comfort band" that is so nice. We had to add a bit of money to the insurance settlement, but that was fine; we got the ring for him.

A few months later, it was our 5th wedding anniversary. We had just bought our house. Champs had always said he wanted to get a new ring for me at 5 years, but it was out of the question. We didn't mind. But the next spring, we decided it was time. Actually, we were forced into deciding it was time. As I mentioned earlier, the stone in my ring sits up quite high, so I am notorious for taking it off. I can't sleep in the ring, and when Sweet Girl was a baby, I left it off for days at a time to avoid scratching her. Due to my propensity to take the ring off, I was forever losing it for a day or two at a time. Once, over Christmas, I left it in the woman's bathroom. I went two weeks before I put out an ad on our company's classified ad site in desperation, hoping someone had found it. It got a call in 20 minutes! The janitors had my ring; they just didn't know whose it was.

Anyway, one day in April, I took it off to go to bed. The next day, I couldn't find it. Nor the day after that and so on. We had two cats at that time and I determined that one of them had to have taken it since I know for certain I put it on my dresser and they had been known to do this before. I searched and searched for my ring for weeks. I felt so naked! During this time, we went to Illinois for Champ's brother Moter's wedding. I felt awful being there without a ring, so between the wedding and the reception, I went to Walmart and bought a $15.00 3 mm gold band. Anything to prove that I was "legit" and to keep me from feeling naked. Champs just laughed and laughed at me, but I think it also helped him understand how I was feeling not having any wedding ring. After weeks of searching everywhere, I gave up and admitted defeat. I called the insurance company and put a claim on that ring so we could put the money toward a new ring. Champs promised me that I would now get the diamond he had always planned to buy me for our fifth anniversary.

We went back to Goodman's and picked out a lovely wedding set consisting of a thin, plain gold wedding band and an engagement ring with 3 diamonds channel-set on each side and rising up to cup the center stone, which is set in a tulip setting. It was perfect! It's not a large ring, but that's ok since I don't have very big hands.

About 5 weeks later in May, I was home on a medical leave after having had my first hernia repair surgery. One day, Mom was throwing away old facial products and shower gels that she didn't use anymore. I was pouring them down the bathroom sink, and decided to check to make sure nothing was getting clogged down there. I leaned way over and looked down the sink. Imagine my shock when I saw a glitter! I turned on all the lights and looked again. Yes, there was a decided glint down there. I got a flashlight and shined it in the drain. There, way down where the trap curves, was my original blue topaz wedding ring! It was suspended between the stone and the plastic snuggie I had put on it (after the gastric bypass, it got so large it kept falling off, so I put it on as a stop gap until I was ready to have it resized)! I yelled to Mom to bring me a hanger. After fashioning a long hook, I hauled it up in utter amazement. After nearly three months in the drain, it was disgusting but beautiful! I couldn't believe I had it back. I cleaned it up and put it on my right index finger, where it still is today (except when I take it off to sleep, of course :-)

The saga, of course, continues. On our 6th wedding anniversary, Champs and I went back to Goodman. I bought him a ruby ring that is beautiful, and he bought a 5-diamond anniversary band to go with my wedding ring. Now I had 4 rings that all proclaimed "I belong to Champs!".

Well, 4 for awhile, that is. In January I was late to work and put all my rings in my pants pocket and ran out the door. When I got to work and pulled out the rings, the plain gold band was missing. I have never found it. I suppose if I had to lose one, I am glad it was the plain gold band - but Champs wasn't too happy about it.

Being a fussy woman at times, I chaffed and chaffed over that missing wedding band. It felt odd to me to have an engagement ring and anniversary band, but no wedding band. A few weeks ago when we were in making a payment, I put on another anniversary band with my two rings for the fun of it; one 5-diamond band on either side of my center stone. I loved it! Champs thought it looked a little too flashy. So, I asked if they could order in a new plain wedding band. They could and they did. I explained to Champs that, for my 40th birthday, I wanted my ring to be complete; all the pieces there and soldered together to make it harder to lose.

About two weeks ago, the plain band I ordered came in and Champs and I went in to look at it. What had been good at the beginning now just looked wrong. The band was too thin and low compared to the width and height of my engagement ring and it looked really bad with the 5-stone anniversary band on the other side. I asked them if they ordered the right band in, and they assured me they had, even though it didn't look right to me. So, I tried on another 5-stone anniversary band again. I still loved it. The price had gone up more than $100.00 since we bought the first one, and even with discounts they quoted me a price $80.00 more than we had paid the first time. I told them we wouldn't buy it unless we got the same price we paid at our 6th anniversary. The salesgirl balked, but then I explained it to the manager who agreed right away. Quick as a wink, Champs said yes and I had my new ring. We spent some time determining what size I needed (a 6) and wrote up the work order.

You would think the saga would be over, but there is one small bit left. We were to go over this last Saturday to pick up the rings all sized and soldered together. The only problem was, the salesgirl didn't write the order to size the rings! Since I had bought them at different times, they were all different sizes; a 7, a 6.5 and a 7.5. For some reason, the jeweler didn't question soldering together three different sized rings; he just did the work. Since they were all different sizes, the 5 stones didn't line up correctly at all, and you could see the different levels of the rings. I very nicely put up a minor stink and they promised to rush and correct it. At first the salesman there tried to get me to take it ("just take it and see how it feels for a few days") but I stuck to my guns. He wasn't too happy with me, but then another salesgirl came over and she understood immediately what I was explaining. She promised to have the rings separated, sized and then re-soldered. She said they would be ready on Tuesday.

On the way home, I kept asking Champs if I had done the right thing being so insistent, since that manager had so clearly wanted me to just take the rings as they were. I was bummed that Champs hadn't had the chance to go get them himself and do whatever he wanted to about giving them to me. Champs made me feel better when he pointed out that we have put a lot of money into the rings and he would rather that they be right, even if it meant that I had to pick the rings up myself on Tuesday.

So, here it is Tuesday. I called in this morning to assure that they were separated, each ring sized to a 6 separately and then resoldered. They were. Sweet Girl and I went over there tonight and picked them up. It was hard going without Champs (who is out of town on his route), but he told me he wanted me to go get it (I think so that he didn't have to listen to me talk about feeling naked anymore!). I told him that with the ring all soldered together, it should make it harder to lose. He agreed, and then in true husband manner, told me that, while he didn't get mad at me when I lost the orginal pain gold wedding band, if I lose this ring, he WILL be pissed. I said my duitiful "yes dear!"

So I have it.... And it is be-a-U-ti-ful! Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me (in 10 days)!

I'll post a picture of it as soon as I can. And thus ends the Sage of the Rings... For Now!

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