“This is all a bit too much,” I would protest.
“Come on, just one more shop,” he would reply, “I’m sure we’ll find what you’re looking for. You have to be patient even if the market isn’t known for offering what you’re thinking about.”
Such was the conversation we would have every single time we went to look for our engagement jewelry, until I walked past one jewelry store in the most unexpected of places. One look at the shop window was all it took to conclude the two-month long search that caused many tears and a lot of frustration.
Now to be able to tell this story right, I have to give a bit of background information on how things work, culturally.
Ahmad and I had the where is this relationship going discussion on a beautiful day in September, six months after we had been dating. We both agreed that marriage was in our future, but that we would need to let things take their time and course. To me, this will always be the point in time in which Ahmad proposed.
A few months later, when both of our families were in the country, everyone got together and the formal proposal happened.
Because here, marriage is not the joining of two people, but the joining of two families, his father asked my father if he agreed to become relatives (here, I’m loosely translating from Arabic) through our union. My family would gain a son and their family would gain a daughter.
This formal proposal allowed us to set the timeline for what would happen next. Since it was logistically impossible to have an engagement party at that moment, we agreed to postpone it to the springtime when all those involved could join us. We also agreed that we would not exchange rings until the engagement party.
That gave us a couple of months to hunt for an engagement ring, a diamond engagement band, and matching simple bands to wear everyday. Yes, he gets to wear a band too, throughout the engagement, before transferring it to the left hand when we get married. And yes, I had to pick three rings for me.
Except I quickly learned wanting something a bit more personal and something that could stand out is not easily available.
I’d like to point out that I haven’t really learned anything since then because I’m still hell-bent on marching to the beat of my own drum.
I started out wanting an engagement ring with colored stones. I loved the idea when I saw it online and in magazines. It was unique, personal, and would cost my then-boyfriend a bit less.
The storekeepers had another idea, though.
“Do you think you live in the US?” “Don’t you want something more timeless?” “You’re going to get bored of this really quickly?” “We don’t have colored stones for engagement rings! They look so ugly.”
So I gave up on trying to convince anyone that I wanted precious stones rather than a full-diamond ring. Better to change my plan of action than have to be subjected to everyone’s opinions that nearly led me to give up. I also gave up on trying to get anything in a Princess cut and stuck to the typical round one.
In under a month, I became proficient in the art of selecting the right diamond, knowing more than I ever needed to know about the 4Cs: Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat. I’d walk into a shop and quickly spell out what I wanted like I buy diamonds every day.
This was of course, my very first time.
Yet, throughout the whole process, I kept protesting that I would never find what I want, that this all seemed a bit too much, that I had fat fingers that would lead us to pay more for any ring, that it would be such a waste because all that they’d end doing is lying in a drawer (I make sure they’re not, preferring to wear them anytime when I’m not at work).
I was so close to giving up.
Then one day, while in Downtown Beirut, I jokingly suggested that since we were already looking, it wouldn’t hurt to see what they had on display there despite the fact that we probably couldn’t afford anything.
And there it was, in the window, glittering under the display lights. It wasn’t the most flawless or the biggest, but it had something that drew me to it: a split shank design that reminded me of my favorite ring, the one my grandmother had given to me years before, and engraving all throughout it. It also had tiny diamonds on each side of the big stone, all the way along the splint shank and around the main setting.
Half an hour later, I also had found the perfect diamond band to match- because it resembled nothing else I had seen before. A thin band with almost a geometrical pattern: a small round diamond, then a long rectangle with three smaller round diamonds inside of them, that continued all the way around. I actually had to have that one custom-made because they didn’t have my size and because the band was a lot thinner than I imagined.
For our everyday bands, I left the decision up to Ahmad- and we ended up with something completely different than the classic, romantic elements of the diamond rings. We both got matching thick bands in a comfort fit design, with a tiny square diamond in the middle for me, and a darker colored stone for him.
And when the springtime rolled around and our engagement party came, I couldn’t have been happier and prouder as we exchanged our rings.
As far as possessions go, these rings are my most treasured because they signify the love we share for one another, our commitment to one another, and our ability to overcome anything in our way to achieve our own happiness. I’d never thought I would be attached to an object until they became mine.
I look forward to the day when we move them from the right hand to the left, marking our marriage.