Monday, December 16, 2013

One Ring to Adorn Us All


In our Western culture, jewellery hasn’t been a major male thing since the far-off times when we were barbarians. Better to have the metal on our body do something useful like protect us. Only princes of the church kept on wearing huge and ostentatious rings for their adherents to kiss and prove their fealty. 

Today in countries like Canada married men wear simple gold wedding rings.  In  Britain that may instead be a personal signet ring, a tradition that dates from the time not so long ago when a gentleman would press hot wax to prove his bona fides for a document or package. Everyday high-testosterone types may also have around their necks a small crucifix or other symbol.

Most of the time, when a man does have something shiny of value on his body, it has an emotional connection. It is not a thing to be put on just to match the outfit of the day.  While in my youth it could be a gold fob watch that belonged to a dead ancestor, these days it is most often a ring. For some it might be set with an exotic stone that perhaps even has a story to go with it. I have owned two such rings over my life. 

The first was a cats-eye from the Northwest Frontier of the British Raj.  Grandfather did something important in the army over there in those adventurous times.  It was set in plain gold, was of modest appearance and of unknown value, and I was very fond of it.  I loved it as a link to our robust Imperial past and to a grandparent I never met. I wore it everywhere. Sadly we eventually parted, the ring tumbling down into the soft snow below as I peeled off my mitts up on a moving ski lift.  I just hope the mountain troll now proudly flaunting it on his pinkie likes it as much as I did!

My present on-hand pointer-to-the-past is another grandparent ring, one with three diamonds set in gold. I have no story here as the exact provenance of this quiet beauty is unknown. But it twinkles up merrily at me whenever I am typing, and I think of it as my Faithful Keyboard Companion.  It has survived the ocean and many a ski run. I like to hope that even when they finally lower me into the long box, we will not part. After all, a Diamond is Forever, so surely three must be for all eternity?

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