The universe, as we all well know, operates with awe inspiring precision and transparent ‘randomness’. But, when it suits the observer to actually pay attention and, well, observe! in the strictest sense this is the basis of mindfulness – an acute awareness of ‘it’ (whatever it might be).
In 2004 I was walking along the charming and virtually deserted main street of Stonington, CT when I wandered into an antique shop. It should be noted, much as a coffee fiend cannot pass up the smell of French Roast, I am hopeless when it comes to abstaining from the lure provided by the smell of silver and brass polishes co-mingled with Boston Paste Wax. In any case, it was a lovely shop and even though I have plenty of furniture and pretty things decorating my tabletops one just never knows what will ‘speak to you’ in such a place.
I am not much of a jewelry wearer – what I have is ‘the good stuff’ of 18kt – 22kt yellow gold, and not nasty swag/bling sparkly diamond in design (you basically have to know what it is that you are looking at which makes my jewelry perfect for travelling because a common thief would pass me over in a heartbeat). So it surprised even me to be drawn to a case of fine jewelry and ask to see a ring, let alone try it on. It fit perfectly (sigh) and possessed a substantial weight that was almost intoxicating, and as I negotiated the price down to $1200, before walking out to ‘think about it’ while I wandered the rest of the town and had lunch I still did not intend to purchase. But it beckoned, demanding a home on my left hand so I went back, and bought the ring. In truth it is recognised by friends and my niece as one of my signature pieces of jewelry it is worn so frequently and I feel naked without it on – tough for a gardener though. I could see that it was hallmarked but I never bothered to find a loop to decipher the assay marks to determine its maker or when it was made – it was enough that it brought (brings) me pleasure.
There are but a handful of contemporary jewelry designers whose work I respect and would thoroughly appreciate owning, the two Elizabeth’s standout – Elizabeth Locke and Elizabeth Gage. I sold a fabulous pair of infrequently worn Elizabeth Locke Persian turquoise earrings earlier this year for more than I paid for them at Neiman-Marcus after wearing them for 12 years (I miss them sometimes). I have longed to own Elizabeth Gage ‘by private showing jewelry’ for years – save for the fact that her jewels are expensive, really and truly ‘lifestyle’ expensive, and I do not have that kind of lifestyle even if I do appreciate her eye and craftsmanship.
Earlier today I was about to relist an auction item on eBay when their home page – don’t you just love how business intelligence software helps recirculate cash from the sale of objects rather than bringing those monies to bear on more practical concerns? – offered up a ‘suggested item’ of an Elizabeth Gage serpent ring set with diamonds and sapphires. (Not one of her best to be honest with my opinion – the bezel set diamonds look slapped on and incongruous to my eye.) But imagine my surprise and delight at the sudden discovery that all these years I actually have owned and been wearing Elizabeth Gage! from the 1960s. Sweet.
I think my Persian turquoise and sapphire set ring is in stunning contrast to the diamond set one – I have never thought of it as (ugly, scary) serpents but rather as the mythical Triton epically captured by both Bernini in Rome and Jean-Claude Rambot in La Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins in Aix-en-Provence. Given Ms Gage’s love of France I am inclined to believe that her ring design that I so cherish is based upon the Rambot fountain which dates from the 17th century.
The discovery of ‘what’ I have had the pleasure to own and wear doesn’t make it any more special to me – just somehow validates that intention can manifest precisely what we want without our intellectual awareness. To be honest acquiring it ‘this way’ rather than to have had the ‘lifestyle’ to justify attending one of her events and purchasing there seems far more authentic to my essential self. To genuinely appreciate beauty without succumbing to the artifice of a designer label, to live with anything because it gives genuine pleasure is a blessing which I do not take for granted. To be caught unaware and then have brilliant, illuminating cognition when we least expect is really what ‘magic’ is, isn’t it?
My girlfriend Jennifer maintains that when she is able she is going to have me be her ‘lifestyle muse’ perhaps this is closer to my reality than I ever imagined to be my truth.
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