Little known fact: I am a certified Diamontologist. (Somewhere there is a plaque floating around with my name misspelled on it.) In college, I sold engagement rings (and other sparkly momentos) and my company paid me to sit at Starbucks and read about the four Cs. A few tests later, and I was a Diamontologist. Hey! What’s an extra test or two when you’re a theater major? (The answer is — nothing. I literally had nothing else to do.)
In the early days of my diamond career, I tried on every ring in the store. I painstakingly louped every freakin’ rock we had until I found “the one.” I wrote it down on the back of my business card and tucked it away until I found the other One. Ten years later, I still remember that ring. 1.25 carat princess cut F color/VS clarity diamond in white gold. I believe it retailed around $10K.
All I have to say to my former self is Ew.
But those were the early days. As the years went on (and my little Starbucks drinking, Coach purse buying, diamond slinging butt was slowly radicalized) my attitude about engagement rings did a full 180.
When I first started selling engagement rings, I meant every word of my awkward, over-zealous sales pitch. I squealed when a new couple sat down at the counter and told me their love story.
I did this thing where I’d nod knowingly at the bride to be, like we were besties, and say: “So, it’s time?”
She was the future me. One day I would be on that side of the counter. One day a man would pay TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS to marry my ass.
Let me tell you, the romance of engagement rings wanes a little when you’ve got a sales quota on your head. Or when you start reading about gemstone labor practices, blood diamonds, dirty gold, DeBeers, Oh God it never ends… Or when you watch a grown woman cry like a baby and break off an engagement because she didn’t get her 3 carats of carbon. Pretty soon, you’re resentfully yanking handfuls of diamonds out of tupperwares in the morning while you tell your co-workers what you read the night before about dirty gold. And your manager wants to chat with you in the back room before you open.
By the time I reached the end of my diamond road, the girl with the 1.25 princess cut F color/VS clarity white gold rock was long gone. I wasn’t sorry to see her go. I felt free — free of the pressure to somehow find a partner who shared my values and had $10K lying around to buy me rocks. Free of the Santa Claus engagement fantasy dreamed up by the clever capitalists at DeBeers to commodify love. Free to define my future partnership outside the four Cs.
When Roberto and I started discussing a long term partnership, diamonds were never on the table. But I guess the girl from long ago left something behind, because I still had a hot air balloon fantasy or two floating around my dreams. Then, one afternoon, I turned to Roberto and asked: “Do you believe in marriage proposals?”
Me: “So, why are we even going to have one?”
Roberto: “Because…wait, I thought you wanted that.”
Me: “Yeah, but if it were up to you?”
Roberto: “Well, if you ask me, I thought we already talked about it. The proposal stuff doesn’t make much sense to me. Didn’t we already decide we wanted to get married?”
Roberto: “So…then the proposal is just a show I do for you?”
Roberto: “Well, if you want the show, I can give you the show.”
Me: [Forehead slap] “No, no. That’s ridiculous.”
Roberto: “Yeah, I think so.”
Me: “So…I guess we’re engaged, huh?”
And that was that. I remember sitting there with my mouth open, aghast that it could be as easy as that. Roberto was right. We had discussed our partnership many times. We had agreed that marriage was something we wanted to do.
And yet, it’s as though I was waiting for some 19 year old fool at a jewelry counter to nod and say, “So, it’s time?”
But it was Roberto who said it on a lazy Sunday afternoon in our sweats. Nodding knowingly in the kitchen. Reminding me that we had already proposed to each other many times before.
And that, De Beers, is how you do it.