Through the smoke and across the tables we were taken with each other right from the very start. A chance encounter turned into an enchanted evening, and then a magical life. Our own private cliché. The sort of thing people don’t believe in anymore. Love at first sight.
Barry Cromer walked into the bar where I was having a beer and started busing my table. I looked up and knew I would marry this bus boy. As it turned out, the bus boy was the owner of the bar and also the local surgeon in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
We got married, but I never got an engagement ring. Barry left his orthopedic practice in Ruidoso to move to El Paso, because I was a shareholder at my advertising agency and couldn’t move. Barry couldn’t afford both a wedding band and an engagement ring since he was starting over. So he gave me the choice. I asked for a Pavé Tiffany wedding band that I have never taken off. Never.
The history of the engagement ring goes all the way back to when cavemen tied cords made of braided grass around their chosen mate’s wrist, ankles, and waist, to bring her spirit under his control.
Circa 2800 BC Egyptians were buried wearing rings made of a single silver or gold wire on the third finger of their left hands, believed to be connected directly to the heart by the vena amoris (vein of love).
In the 2nd century BC the groom gave the bride first a gold ring first to wear during the ceremony and special events, then an iron ring to wear at home, signifying her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her.
In 1477, in the first recorded use of a diamond engagement ring, Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposes to Mary of Burgundy with a ring that is set with thin, flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an “M.”
And in 1886 Tiffany and Co. introduced the “Tiffany setting,” a six-prong ring designed to maximize the diamonds brilliance by raising it up from the band.
When we renovated our 100-year-old house, I thought about taking off my wedding band as I painted the walls, but I didn’t. When the priest in the NICU asked if I wanted last rites for our daughter Catalina, I remember crying so hard I couldn’t catch my breath, but I held my ring and somehow that brought me comfort. When we were told that our son Sam was born blind I turned my back to the doctor, twirled my ring and thought of plan B. In our difficult times, times when we took suitcases down from closet shelves and stared at each other in anger, love was there and my wedding band was on.
A couple of months ago, Barry – out of the blue – decided it was time I got an engagement ring. So together, with the help of our dear friend Gina Silverman Smith, we designed a ring, which was made in New York.
I wanted the ring to look Edwardian vintage and Barry wanted to add some blue diamonds to remind me of his eyes. Gina suggested a cushion diamond to enhance the authenticity of the setting.
I finally got it, and I am over the moon. It is stunning. However, as gorgeous as the ring is – and it is – gazing at it I finally realize I will never need a ring to remind me of the love I have for my husband. I got lucky and married the love of my life and I will forever be changed because of the person he is and how much he means to me.
I asked Barry why I am finally getting an engagement ring after all these years, a ring which he now calls my “life” ring. He said, “I wanted to make sure it was going to last.” That’s my guy!