I have therefore not seen a present for a few years. Not for my Birthday, nor for Christmas, our wedding anniversary, Mother's Day, the birth of each child or what naught. Though he was not entirely to be blamed, for he works long hours and does not have the time nor the inclination to shop. And I am, according to him, a very difficult client, so he does not feel like buying any present and getting scolded for it because I should happen not to like it. And he did say that I am free to buy whatever I want whenever I want to - but you'll understand that it's not the same, right?
A few weeks ago, as we started to plan for Christmas (this year his mother and sister are coming over from Paris for Christmas AND the New Year), he said to me, "My Chérie, what would you like for Christmas? You have not had a present in years, so you can have a nice one this year.[..] How much are we going to be reimbursed by the Taxman?[..] OK, you get to spend up to 4000 Euros..." (!?! - wire kenna pulled as we would say at home in Singapore)
One can imagine that I wasn't going to wait around for him to change his mind (especially if for some reason the Taxman is not going to reimburse us what we thought he owes us). So I started looking around for my present. Which was difficult in Stuttgart with the limited number and types of shops. And I can't possibly fly back to Paris or to Singapore just to hunt for a piece of jewellery. And the Internet is risky for things like that.
Yes, so that's what I've decided to have. A nice piece of jewellery. Something bright and gaudy, to spend hours looking at during the depressingly long and cold winters here in Europe. I've decided to buy a Ruby or Emerald ring (the pendant, bracelet, earrings etc will have to come later, sigh...)
What I've almost forgotten is the auction house EPPLI here in the centre of Stuttgart. It's a small shop next to the covered market (Markthalle), but contains a good variety of old and new jewellery, furniture, fur coats, branded bags etc. The Schwabs are very stingy people, so recycling is common and second-hand shops do well here.
I normally wouldn't have gotten anywhere near second-hand jewellery, me being an Asian girl brought up on ghost stories where oftentimes the spirit of the former owner of some ring turns up to haunt the new owner...But time away in Europe and the reality of the purse help change minds and I have decided to take the risk and consider the option of buying a second-hand ring.
Antique jewellery is interesting. The modern ones tend to be simple and increasingly popular/common. And when one starts looking for a ruby or emerald, one realises that it is difficult to find nice colours and clarities in the shops that you find in the usual malls or shopping areas (not many people can afford them so most shops just don't carry them) - and walking into Chaumet or Cartier at this moment in time is unfortunately not yet possible for us.
Rubies like diamonds have to be examined in terms of colour, clarity, cut and carat. But unlike diamonds where normally the more colourless the better and standard grades exist to help tell them apart, colour in Rubies is quite personal and one really has to spend quite some time looking at the stones to know what one would like and is looking for. And when one is just starting out, one would have little notion of clarity and cut, heated or unheated stones, and many of the usual shops out there often sell red rubies that are quite opaque and badly-cut. And another thing I've found out as I was looking for my ring is that the origins of a Ruby is also very important, e.g. whether it comes from a mine in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, India, Afghanistan, the USA or Africa...
I guess that not only do I want a Ruby, but I also wanted it to come with diamonds. Somehow diamonds look great on their own and they look even greater when they accompany a coloured stone :-). And I am quite sick of the usual round diamonds, so well, that's another reason why the quest was starting to be quite difficult.
And so it wasn't auctioned off. And the price tag was 2200 Euros before the shop's 20% commission and any eventual ring sizing. It may seem expensive, but if you see what one has to pay for a similar new ring in a shop (if you find one like it), it's half the price.
But on the day that I brought Hubby to the shop to look at the ring, sitting next to it in the window was this other Ruby ring set in 18K white gold (I prefer), and surrounded by...6 Navette diamonds and 6 round diamonds with a total weight of 0.88 Carats (TW-W, VSI-SI). The Ruby (3.2 carat Siamese Pailin which in this case would actually be Cambodian) is not as fine as the Burmese one and has a visible inclusion (a line cut across), but it is translucent, has lots of fire and is of a rich purplish-red (not pigeon-blood red Burmese, but...). It took my breath away.
Hubby took a look at it and said that it was pretty but don't you think that it's kind of big? If you wear it out people will think that it's a fake...But he could see that I was quite taken by it, and I suspect that he was just relieved that I have found something that I like, that it was cheaper than usual since it was second-hand and was just quite glad to get it over and done with. So we paid for the ring, asked for it to be re-sized (it was 58 versus my 48.5) and as I thanked him for it, he muttered that he hoped that I was happy with it since I wouldn't be getting another present for the next 10 years! Ha ha! If only he knew that I'm already starting to dream of Emeralds...
So I'm wearing my ring as I type this out. We collected it this afternoon. I wish I could put up a close-up picture of it, but I do not have a zoom on my camera and it just wouldn't turn out. So I'll have to wait for an occasion to have its picture taken. Until then...
PS : I went back to EPPLI recently and saw 2-3 other Ruby rings (2 Burmese and 1 Ceylonese) and they were all going for less than 500 Euros before commission and resizing! It is amazing how much difference there could be between what I paid for mine and what's being sold just after. But it's all a question I guess of quality (or at least I hope) though to tell the truth I can't see no difference between the cheaper rings and mine (except that mine's bigger).