In a recent post about consumption and connoisseurship, I mentioned that I had been asked this by Kristin, a young colleague, about a ring I was wearing. I responded "No", which was not true. (Shown, ruby ring set in platinum from Shreve, $4,950.)
I felt disappointed with myself for fibbing, and asked "What's that about?"
On reflection, I had several reasons, not all valid:
1. I was uncomfortable with the question and wanted to end the conversation. I was taught to never ask that, and squirmed under her inquiry.
2. I have said "yes", and then had near-strangers say, "Let me see!" I don't like removing and proffering the item.
3. I was working at this organization on a one-year contract. I had heard Kristin's manager make disparaging remarks about other contractors' clothing or accessories: "We paid for that" and "So that's what she does with her fee". I wanted to avoid the judgments that I imagined she would apply.
Anyone who wishes to avoid such censure could wear antique or vintage pieces. No one can tell (not that it's her business anyway) if you dropped your paycheque on that Edwardian pearl pendant or if it was Aunt Emily's. (Shown, Edwardian pearl and diamond pendant from Shreve, $3,950.)
I found it odd that in that culture massive engagement rings were ardently admired, but a piece a woman might buy herself was subject to approbation. And no one asked if an engagement ring was real.
Le Duc thought I was being condescending by withholding the information, but my actions were solely self-serving. I wanted to fly under the radar.
I have changed. I now say, with a smile, "Real". I have a different vantage point at going on 62.
I also no longer remove my jewelry for inspection. I enjoyed the support I received for this recently. "Becky", her manager "April" and I were taking a Starbucks break.
Becky: Oh, I like your pearls, can I see them?
Me: No, I don't want to take them off just now.
Becky: But I want to play with them!
April (to Becky): What are you, a cat?
14k gold, diamond and sapphire pin, ca. 1940, 1 1/4 inches square, from Aaron Faber, $1,950.
Antique yellow gold and oval shaped moss agate bracelet, ca. 1880 from Firestone and Parson; price on request.
Vintage Cartier diamond-pattern 18k gold articulated bracelet, $3,499 from Dover Jewelry.