CARBON.

It’s colourless yet under the fluorescents of my lamp it gleams every colour imaginable. It’s cut, a common Mazal, is understated but at the same time it’s beauty screams as you. It’s amazing how such a small object can possess such history, involve the craft and hard work of so many individuals just to be able to touch my skin.

Two-hundred-and-fifty tonnes of earth would have been sifted through, hours and hours of hard work, drops and drops of sweat all to produce one single carat. Did that miner have any idea how much joy he would one day bring to someone? How much his hard work and time would be worth, not only just in terms of what it sells for, but also the promise it would one stay stand for? A promise of lifelong unity, eternal love and endless commitment, until death do you part.

It would be perfectly reasonable to presume that it was mined from a rock by a man, because mining is often a masculine labour; in fact, I haven’t ever heard of a female miner. The irony is the man who mined this probably couldn’t even afford to buy one for himself with a salary so low, but I try to push that thought to the back of my mind, letting any anger melt away and enjoying the object in front of me in all its glory.

After extraction, the ring would have journeyed its way across the globe to participate in approximately a six-week long sorting process in Antwerp, Johannesburg or Mumbai. In this circumstance, the rock would have been scrutinised but the sharpest of eyes and inspected by the most critical of judges before being sorted according to its ‘Gem Quality.’ It would have been Cut and Graded before receiving an official certificate that declares her beauty, like the prettiest girl in school winning a crown at prom, letting everyone she is the best. This small piece of A5 tells you how this arrangement of Carbon is worth more than Mum’s Gucci purse, or your Aston Martin and, in some special cases, more than your holiday home your Godmother owns in Mykonos. What it can potentially mean to the individual who wears it though can be priceless, despite the pound sign placed in front of it. What is the result of all of this? The most beautiful of diamonds. I twist my hand so that my palm is facing outwards, enabling me to get a better look at the rock sitting on my index. It’s a little large for my scrawny fingers but nothing that a little clenching can’t fix.

This diamond, my diamond, would have passed through a chain of sellers, all putting their own price on it, all equally mesmerised by its magnificence. Eventually it must have reached a small jeweller hiding away in the quiet town of Dudley called John Hollins Finer Jewellery. Despite my efforts to hunt the place down and its owner, I can only assume it is closed. One day a scruffy-looking lad would have walked in, a factory worker during the Second War and now a postman. He would have saved all his pennies up for this purchase; money like this didn’t just sit in his shallow pockets waiting to be spent. Even with his savings he would not have been able to quite cover the cost, but the jeweller took pity on him and admired his ambition. His heart was warmed by the young man’s love for his to-be-wife and consequently, he sold it to the man for what he could offer alongside the gold chain around his neck that his father gave him on his Twenty-First birthday.

A rather nervous man with a shy temperament, he would have thought about how he was going to go about asking for ages before he did it. She wasn’t into clichés you see, not a lady who would like to have been asked over dinner by finding the ring hidden on a breadstick, nor would she appreciate him going down on one knee on top of an impressive skyscraper. She was sincere, easily embarrassed and preferred less extravagant gestures; for her it was all about the finer details. Perhaps he took her to the local park one day when the weather was nice and as they strolled around the park before he popped the question. Or, maybe they were just sat at home one Sunday afternoon and, he didn’t mean to do it there and then, but there she sat in her chair in the corner reading her book, her glasses perched on her nose, but he just couldn’t help himself.  With the ring in one hand he offered her three beautiful baby girls, a roof over her head, food on the table and his complete and utter adoration until he died.

Of-course I don’t know if this is how my Granddad asked my Grandma to marry him, my Grandma is a very private woman and would never dare share such details. Nonetheless, the hopeless romantic in me likes to imagine that the truth is something similar. Some years later my mum was born, the youngest of three children. She grew up under their wing to be a fine woman. She got a job, moved out and fell head over heels, providing them with their first grandchildren. I received this ring from Grandma on my Eighteenth birthday, eight years after my Granddad died and I have since looked at the ring many a time, never daring to wear it out the house for fear of losing it.

Each time the gem bewitches me, each time it shines different hues, feels a different weight and looks a slightly different shape. For me the ring is priceless, it has no value because you cannot put a price on love. My Granddad promised my Grandma he would love her until his heart stopped beating. I believe that although the machine says it did at precisely 7:05am on the 27th December 2009, if you remain silent long enough, and listen close enough, you can hear his heart beat still beating softly in the ring.

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