Nick Paumgarten's May 18 New Yorker essay, "The Death of Kings" has fans, detractors and others who have given it a mixed review, but by now many have read it.
I've been mulling over the notion of three categories of spending outlined in part of the piece, (Mandatory, Discretionary, Frivolous); "frivolous" includes electronics, jewelry, and art works.
The budget for "Frivolous" items pretty much goes out the window with financial wipeout. When every penny goes to keeping a family afloat, the last thing to spend on is a bauble or hottest iToy.
Today I dropped into Winners (our Century 21) to check for discount yoga wear. Passing the jewelry counter, I saw an eight-strand necklace of luminous small keshi pearls, strung with chunks of peridot, amethyst, topaz and citrine. I liked its design; the stones were bright and well-distributed. I tried it on. It was one of those "almost, but not quite" pieces. Part of me thought, "Only $75, it's close enough."
But it's not a bargain if it doesn't delight. I was sorry it just missed.
Styles change, but I'm hoping for at least 15 years of regular wear from a serious purchase. I can't put a dollar value on 'serious' but you know, you think about it, because you could do a lot of other things with the money. (Shown, Platinum and ruby art deco ring from Kitty Jewellery blog.)
For lower-ticket items like the Winners necklace, I look for that "Oh, I want to wear it tonight!" feeling, aesthetic pleasure, and the satisfaction of a good buy.
But that "frivolous" category is gnawing at me. I suppose the term is apt, but I love the way a necklace or pair of earrings renews the clothes you've had for awhile, and I'm not alone, am I?
I know women who have no interest in accessories; I don't get excited about a new set of power tools like my GF Bonnie. Everyone has her delights. But more often, I notice how a woman is nourished by the beauty and artistry in a piece, and that she feels better when she puts on her favourite ring or watch.
Chanel said, "There is not a woman alive who does not know how to wear jewelry." I think of my mother, pinning her enameled dragonfly brooch to her silk dress, lifting her head with confidence, and walking into a room to greet her guests.
Jewelry connects us to a deeply feminine aspect of adornment, to the sensuous celebration of every woman's beauty. Overdone, we look ostentatious and desperate. But that is rather hard to do, since piled-on is as prevalent as discreet these days.
Though jewelry is placed in the same "Frivolous" category as electronics, it is not the same thing. I don't care if I ever own an iPhone, but I do hope there is a new bracelet in my life before I leave, in pearls, for the sweet hereafter.