Burning Desire For FIRE

Financial-Independence-Retire-Early(er) in Australia from the female perspective.

The Freedom Ring.

(This post was prompted by J. Money at Budgets are Sexy He posted a tweet about an ad he saw that said something like “No outfit is complete without a diamond!” I tweeted back and said, “Every outfit I wear has a diamond with it! My engagement ring. Except I wear mine on my right hand. I call it my Freedom Ring.” He said I should blog about it, so here it is.)

Some might say that wearing a diamond ring from a defunct relationship is the very essence of frugality. Why buy yourself jewellery if you already have something lying around? Now, I’ve been known to be reluctant to spend money if I don’t need to, but the Freedom ring has a bit more behind it than just wanting to save a few bucks on bling.

Way back in 1985, my boyfriend popped the question and I accepted. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, as we’d been living together for around 18 months. We were in the city having lunch, then after we finished we went straight to where my cousin worked.

He’s a diamond-setter.

I wanted an emerald ring… not your usual wishy-washy faded green emerald but one that was a deep, brilliant green. My cousin John showed us all the emeralds he had in his office, then when none matched up he left us there to go downstairs to borrow some from another jeweller who might have the colour of emerald I wanted.

While he was gone, A said, “Frogdancer, I don’t want to buy an emerald. I want to get you a diamond. A big diamond. That’s what I’ve had in my head.”

I really wanted the emerald – after all, the emerald was what I’d had in my head! – but I thought, hey, A is paying for it so I should really get what he wants. I know, I know… I was going to be the one wearing it, but I was young and stupid back then.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. See this photo? This is taken in England, with my hand touching the actual table where Jane Austen wrote her novels. See the ring? It’s an emerald that I bought for myself when I took the kids to Thailand. Dreams DO come true!

But I digress.

When John came back into the room, carrying a box full of emeralds, we said we’d changed our minds. He laughed and said that this happens more often than not.

He put the emeralds down and asked A how much he was willing to spend.

“Five thousand dollars,” he replied.

I nearly fell off my chair. Back in 1985 that was a LOT of money.

In fact, I just googled what it would be worth today and I nearly fell off my chair again. The equivalent amount in today’s dollars is FOURTEEN THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS.

I gaped at him. I thought he was mad. But I certainly wasn’t going to say no.

John nodded, got up and came back with diamonds. This is the ring we designed:

Everyone called it “The Rock.” I can’t remember just how big it was, but it’s just over 1 carat and it’s of very good quality. The wedding ring was designed to fit under it. It’s gold because he wanted gold – everything else I wear is silver – really, I should have realised back then that this relationship wasn’t destined to work!

We got married in 1987, had our 4 children from 1992-1996 and I left him a year later in 1997.

During the ‘discussion’ in front of the registrar from the Family Court when we were doing our financial settlement, A asked for many things. He wanted the furniture, the car and more of a share to the house than he was entitled to. The registrar was getting increasingly disgusted with him, considering we had 4 small boys to consider. Finally, A asked for the engagement ring to be returned.

The registrar turned to me, rolled his eyes and said, “And how do you feel about that, Mrs Married-Name?”

“After 4 kids and 10 years of marriage, I feel I’ve earned it!” I said.

For a few years the ring languished in the bottom of my jewellery box. I didn’t want to wear it. Then, one day, I took it out and put it on my right hand. There it stayed for a few months, until one day, when I was at work, I glanced down and saw, to my horror, that the claws of the ring were empty.

The diamond was gone.

I searched, but I had no idea when it had gone missing and you can’t search an entire school to look for a pebble. I was upset, but what can you do? I put the useless ring in my jewellery box and went on with my life.

Two years later, Evan came out of his room, holding something in the palm of his hand. He would’ve been around 9 or 10, I suppose.

“Mum, I found this in the corner of my sock drawer. What is it?”

I gasped as I looked at what appeared to be a weirdly-shaped stone. Could it be? I turned it over and it gleamed.

Talk about Fortunate Frogdancer!

After John put the ring back together again – “I was so sorry when you lost this diamond. It’s a beautiful stone” – I put it back into the jewellery box. A and I were having child support ‘discussions’ and I didn’t need the reminder of him.

And there it stayed until around this time last year.

I sit near a group of women in our staffroom who are in their late twenties/early thirties. They’re all in that stage of life where they’re getting engaged/married/buying houses/having babies. We were talking engagement rings and I was describing mine. Alice said, “Why don’t you bring it in? I’d love to see it.”

That night, I opened my jewellery box and sifted through the contents until I found the box. I opened it and the diamond shone. I looked at it and remembered so many things. My wedding, the babies, the good times as well as the bad.

I smiled as I slipped it onto my ring finger. The ring finger on my RIGHT hand.

The ring has been there ever since. The girl that it was designed for has long gone and the woman I am now has taken her place.

On the surface, it’s still a beautiful piece of jewellery and I take pleasure in looking at it. It’s simple and elegant, (both qualities that I aspire to be one day) and it goes with everything.

On a deeper level, every now and then I glance at the ring and I think of that girl in my cousin’s office, excited at the new life in front of her and having no idea how it was all going to pan out. She made so many mistakes, deferring her own judgement so many times – but I suppose without all of those mis-steps and blunders my life wouldn’t look the way it does today.

I have a nickname for the ring on my right hand. I call it “The Freedom Ring.” It’s a symbol of how you sometimes begin a journey and end up in an entirely different destination to where you thought you were going to be.

And sometimes where you end up is wonderful.

6 Comments

  1. What a great story. Lifted my spirits completely!

  2. It’s interesting how, at so many points as we’re growing into ourselves, we don’t realize that we should assert what we want, not accept what someone else wants for big decisions like this. It’s a beautiful stone, but that emerald really sings!

    I wanted a sapphire, myself, but it wasn’t until after we got engaged that I realized I never actually TOLD PiC what I wanted before he went ring shopping. He would have respected my wishes, if only I’d remembered or thought to share them. Perhaps someday I’ll find a place for a sapphire in my life. 🙂

  3. Thanks so much – I’m moved to joyful tears!

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