A Point of Light

In 2004, I turned 29.  I found that birthday to be a good time to look back — even more so than the big 3-0 that was coming next.  In order to process my life, I decided to escape, by myself, to London and stay in a “youth” hostel.  (I figured perhaps it was the last time I could get away with that.)  I had lived in London for a summer 10 years before that and going back seemed like a good reset for my life .

It was a wonderful, liberating trip.  I am not sure what it says about me that I love to travel alone — but I do.  Anonymous wanderer.  I feel most like myself then.

Well, me being me, no trip would be complete without shopping for a piece of jewelry as a memento.  Among my first days there (maybe the first day), I found the Argenteus store in Covent Garden and bought this ring:

This ring, made of silver and a tiny diamond, has been a fixture in my life ever since.  I just love its suspended, single point of light.  I had long since lost track of the jeweler (or should I say jeweller) who made this piece so, in order to write about it, I had to engage in some detective work.  The maker’s mark on the inside is JJN.  With the help of the oh-so-handy, Wayback machine, I found that several years ago Argenteus sold James Newman‘s line.  While I don’t see my ring exactly in his current line, I am almost sure from his style (and initials) that I have rediscovered this wonderful designer.

A Favorite Purchase from Adin

If one is a jewelry enthusiast like I am, you may have had the experience of cruising the internet for something that captures your attention — something that you have never seen before.  One day, back in 2001, I was on such a search and found this piece:

Antique Ring from Adin

To this day, I have never seen anything like it.  It wasn’t expensive as the stones are glass and there isn’t much weight to it.  But, it is an antique from the 1800s with white and yellow gold and the stones are nicely flush-set.  I wear it more days than not and, for as long as I have had it, I still find myself puzzling over it’s design.  It’s sort of in the shape of a signet ring but not really.  If the stones were arranged vertically, that would be more expected — but, no, not here.   It’s small, delicate and light but the bold, unusual design makes it seem bigger somehow.

Beyond the enjoyment that this ring has given me over the years, the experience of buying it, also gave me one of my favorite places on the internet to drool over gorgeous antique gems — Adin.  The real brick-and-mortar Adin is in Belgium and I dream of going there someday.  But, in the meantime, I can entertain myself for hours with the stunning website that has hundreds of antique pieces that, for my eye, appear to be fairly priced.  There is also an incredible range in price in their merchandise.  This piece, at least, also came with a certificate of authenticity.

While I am talking up Adin, allow me to share a nice story that happened to occur in the worst of circumstances and that has given this ring meaning beyond a frivolous internet purchase.  I purchased my ring online a few days before that fateful day in September 2001.  I had been communicating back and forth with a customer service representative about the re-sizing of the ring due to the different sizing scales between America and Europe.  Then, the world changed.  I was no where near harm’s way but the Adin customer service rep was thoughtful enough to send me a brief email to say that she hoped that my loved ones and I were all safe.  I was really struck by the kindness of that — especially, since everything seemed so unhinged.

I don’t know if Adin sent out such an email to all their American customers or if it was simply a personal message from a kind person.  But, it doesn’t matter to me either way.  When I look at this ring, it reminds me of connections among strangers and how the world is so small, really, and how much small kindnesses can mean and how they endure.  It reminds to behave accordingly.

Antique Ring from Adin

Personal collection highlight – mid-century gothic

mid-century gothic ring - photo by rjxp

To me, this piece is both bread and cake.  This is a cocktail ring of my mother’s from the 1950’s.  A cocktail ring is the epitome of personal adornment snack food — unnecessary and purely decorative.  But, as it was my mother’s, it is among my prized possessions and it carries with it shadows of a time in my mother’s life before I was born … a time that, when I imagine it, is black and white and rose-scented.

The ring itself was made with an incredible attention to detail.  I cannot find any legible maker’s mark but it says it is sterling silver and it must have been cast.  A jeweler has told me that the stones are glass or rhinestone and they sit in closed seats that are visible from the back.


I describe the style of this ring as “mid-century gothic.”  For me, it is an attractive style because I find it so evocative.  I find that I have a large mental archive of images that are examples of that style.  I see jewel tones, pearl buttons, heavy candle holders, and those lace doilies that women had to wear on their heads when they went to mass.  I have looked up that term, which I sort of thought I made up, and it seems that there other items out there described with the words “mid-century gothic” although not necessarily in that order.  A google image search brings up quite a few products — largely home decor items such as these:

Perhaps, a little piece of jewelry can be so strongly evocative of a style for me because this was the living room of the house in which I grew up.  (Note: This photo was taken in 2009.)

Yeah, just let that sink in …