Or, The Politics of Jewelry and I Didn't Freak Out on a Lady in the Grocery Store
I'm not sure how to begin this, but I had an interaction this evening (and my "interaction" I mean someone said something rude and judgey to me and I just turned red and grabbed soy sauce and ran). I was minding my own business in the INTERNATIONAL (that's code for I like fancy foreign stuff) aisle of the grocery store, and managed to select for myself some Cadbury's Digestives (because they don't carry McVittie's) and was making my way over to the soy sauce (like I said, international) when I heard it.
As this is not typically something someone hears while strolling through the tortilla section, I turned my head only to make eye contact with a middle aged woman who was clearly glaring at me. I think I made the face of someone who is surprised to be glared at. I imagine I looked a bit like this:
(She didn't call me "Chicken" if that's what you're thinking.)
She then muttered "disgusting" before breaking eye contact with me and looking down at my hands, shaking her head and making a "tsk" sound. It was one of my most epic dressings-down.
I looked down at my hands. In my left hand was clasped my precious and over-priced Digestives. I thought for a moment that she might have oddly strong feelings about British cookies. But there, on my left ring finger as it always is, was my engagement ring.
Now, to give you dear readers a backstory, my engagement ring was a TO DO for Mr. Farce. He knew I didn't want a diamond because I have a personal aversion to the diamond trade, especially now that the Kimberly Process has been proven corrupt. But we discussed colored stones and such, and I decided I did want a white stone because I'm a fickle person and white usually remains match-able. Beyond that, colored precious and semi-precious stones often have their own histories not unlike those of diamonds. Additionally, I think it's absurd and wrong that we mine gold and keep turning out ecosystems to look for it while there's plenty around.
Mr. Farce, unbeknownst to me (I swear!), found a beautiful Etsy shop, whose jeweler specializes in non-diamond jewels like Moissanite and recycled metals. (The ring above is not my exact ring, but it's really, really close and I pulled it from the shop's site. My ring has a slightly more slender band and my hands are not that nice looking.) The ring is perfect, and what's more, it comes with a pretty damn fantastic man. He even took me to a localvore-focused five-star restaurant the night he proposed. Had I not been shocked to my core, the whole thing would have been borderline embarrassingly liberal.
All of the above idealism is underscored by the fact that I have my MA in Human Rights. I try very hard to live by my (often very strong) beliefs. That said, I generally do not judge people for their not-quite-as-black-and-white choices. I don't really judge other people for wanting a diamond. I judge the industry and the cultural systems that allow for all of the truly horrifying abuses that go along with diamonds. But, I have trouble leveling with someone and saying, "YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE THAT" when our culture has been saying our entire lives "YOU REALLY FUCKING WANT THAT."
So when I rapidly realized, standing there in the food aisle between the border of Mexico and China, that I had no recourse, at least none that could be rapidly explained, I just grabbed my soy sauce and scampered off, after turning a delightful shade of ruby.
Also, I have serious issues with confronting most strangers on the odd occasion that I am a target of someone's wrath. Whatever.
So, what of it? Do I need to wear a tee-shirt proclaiming that my diamond isn't a diamond? I'm not particularly offended that the woman angrily judged me, I'm more annoyed that I didn't have the wherewithal to stand-up for myself and my very carefully selected ring.
With that in mind, I did choose the closest damn thing to a diamond for my ring that isn't actually a diamond. It looks like a big-ass hunk o' carbon. And because of that, because I've always known that my ring looks like a diamond, ultimately, I feel more wrong tonight than I know her to have been in her split-second judgement of me.
EDITED TO ADD: I did not see all the other posts on engagements and bling and all the glorious jewels you folks have. They're brilliant! This event occurred within the hour and I popped on here to pick my beloved GT's brains about the event.