My jewelry guru, Gloria Untermann, told me once that she always learned a lot about someone by the rings on their fingers. It was one way she read people’s style when she worked at Saks Fifth Avenue. She’s retired but many of you in the Bay Area know exactly who I’m talking about.
I felt like she was the store mascot because whenever you went through the revolving doors at Powell and Stockton you’d see Gloria standing behind a jewelry counter. She’s striking, regal, statuesque. She’s taller than most and her black hair would be pulled back tight and put into a sleek bun. She wore bold glasses and usually wore bold jewelry. She dressed in black, all the better to showcase her jewelry collection.
I interviewed Gloria for Brenda Kinsel’s Fashion Makeover. You can read it on pages 120-121.
Thinking about what Gloria said about rings
The subject of rings came up on my visit with Dad over the holidays. He lives in Perham, Minnesota at an assisted living facility called Briarwood. I always look forward to seeing Dad but I enjoy his resident mates as well!
This time I met some relative newcomers, like Tom. Tom grew up on a farm in the area. He served in the Korean War as a young man, came home after two years and his dad assumed he would stay and work on the farm. Tom said, “Oh no, I don’t want to work the farm!” The next morning Tom found his suitcase packed and positioned at the head of the driveway. There would be no free lunch here!
So he and a couple of friends joined the Navy. Where did they get stationed? San Diego, California, the city noted for having the best weather in the whole country. He’s telling me this story on a day when the high in Minnesota was going to be -14. After 30 years in the Navy, he started a home renovations construction business that his sons still run today in San Diego.
He’s got such a quick wit.
Everyone gathers in the dining room at noontime for their main meal. The dining room has 4-top or 6-top tables. It’s a great place to study hands and rings. A hand reaches out to pour coffee for others. Another hand passes the packets of salad dressing. Sometimes desserts are passed to someone across the table. Leftover ham on one’s plate gets wrapped up in a napkin and passed to the person at the table who has a small dog who would appreciate it. Tom loved these butter bars. I gave him mine to eat later.
It wasn’t the first day, maybe the second one, when I noticed Tom’s rings. One of them was a family ring of gold and diamonds. The diamonds looked like they were set in tangled vines from Nature.
Tom told me the second one had elephant tusk in it. Dad said, “Did you hunt down the elephant for that one?” Tom laughed heartily and said, “No.” He added, “I don’t take them off.”
What do you suppose Tom’s rings say about him?
Yvonne loves her diamonds
I was Dad’s date on New Year’s Eve. The party started at 4:40 pm. Yvonne sat at our table along with her husband Joe. They’re from Bismarck, North Dakota’s capital. She’s very social and talkative with great stories. Her dad was the sheriff in town and her family lived in the same building as the prisoners. Her dad was hit over the head during a prison break. He survived.
Every December she makes all kinds of traditional Norwegian treats and then throws a party. She dresses up in Norwegian attire. Next year I think I should plan my trip around her party. She provides an amazing spread of all my favorite treats growing up.
This time my brother, sister-in-law and I made lefse, another Norwegian treat. We invited Yvonne to join us. She pulled up her wheelchair and rolled it out like a pro. This is the same woman who goes to dialysis three times a week, is diabetic and has heart problems. You’d never know that about her unless she told you.
But back to New Year’s Eve! When Yvonne was talking I couldn’t help but notice her sparkly diamonds. They danced in the light. I asked to see them up close.
She told me she LOVES diamonds and has lots of diamond rings. Somehow that did not surprise me!
What do you think Yvonne’s rings say about her?
Gloria’s rules about buying jewelry
One thing Gloria says about jewelry is that you have to live by the 100 percent rule. She explains:
Each piece of jewelry you consider adding to your accessory wardrobe should be 100 percent right for you. ‘Good enough’ is not good enough. Each piece of jewelry you own must be 100 percent right for you so you can love it forever.
I got to thinking about my own relationship to rings. My mother had only two rings that I remember: her wedding ring and a fancier ring with diamonds that she got years later.
My own wedding ring was an antique cameo ring, not a diamond. I guess I’m not traditional that way.
About ten years ago I started longing to wear rings. I tried some on at Nordstrom. They were large ones. The salesperson told me that I couldn’t wear a large ring during the day. Really I thought? But I liked the big ones!
Another year or two went by before I spotted this Owl Ring. I fell hard for it. I thought about it for a whole year. Then I talked to the artist, Victor Sanz from Sonoma, about it. I was not going to wear this ring just at night or for special occasions. I would buy it only if I determined I could wear it every day. Victor let me try it out for a week. Sold! I will love it forever!
The ring I never take off my finger is this sterling silver one by Jen Moore, another local artist. She owned SAX Consignment before my daughters did. She sold them the business so she could focus on jewelry design. She does incredibly intricate things although this ring is a very clean design, wouldn’t you say? You’ve probably had this experience where you put something on and it feels like a natural extension of you IMMEDIATELY! That’s how this ring is. I love the two parts and that there’s a blank space between them. I love the smooth finish. I love how it feels. It’s 100 percent.
The other ring I wear a lot is large, bulbous, and odd-shaped. My daughter Erin gave it to me. It has shiny set in sparkly parts that I imagine are pretend-diamonds. It’s got lots of gunmetal patina on it. Erin calls it a Salvador Dali ring. I think she regrets giving it to me but honestly, it’s much better on me than it is on her.
I’m still a novice at reading rings. I’m not sure what mine says about me. But I do know that I’m so glad I ignored that salesperson’s advice to only wear big rings at night. If I’d heeded her advice I would have lost out on all the pleasure these rings have brought me!
What’s your ring story? Do you have a favorite you’d like to share? Do you have a ring collection? Do you want to give us your analysis about what these rings are saying about my pals? Can’t wait to hear from you!