“Trifles light as air are to the jealous confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ.”
Othello, Act III Scene iii
Desdemona was undone by a handkerchief. For the American single woman, a shiny diamond bauble worn on the wrong finger can create an opposite sort of mischief. Namely, missing out on finding the man of her dreams, or at least one that will upgrade (or condemn) her to ‘Mrs’. The modern conspiracy of DeBeers and Hollywood has increased the real estate value of a betrothed woman’s ring finger exponentially while causing a sartorial danger of the digits for those not spoken for.
Why? Because baubles might be trifling things, but they convey a commitment heavy with meaning, burdens, and danger for the interloper. A potential suitor scans quickly for something either genuine or masquerading as a diamond while considering his approach. Wearing the wrong jewel can mistakenly turn a harmless rhinestone into holy vows of matrimony.
At first, I refused to listen to the warnings. My obstinacy sprang partly from my love of the gold and diamond treasures gifted to me by my father. Indians give jewels the way Westerners give iPods and computers. I have a ring that could be a wedding band, sparkly with diamond clusters. My mother gave me a navratna ring – an astrological symbol of the nine planets containing the earth at the center represented by nine gemstones – supposedly to help end my spinsterhood. (Pluto’s planetary demotion has not yet hit the Indian astrological jewels market.) She failed to grasp that a ring with a raised pearl solitaire encircled by eight precious stones has the opposite effect at a crowded cocktail hour full of singles. Chastised repeatedly by well-meaning girlfriends, I defended the practice, wanting no part of the Western obsession with $10,000 engagements rings. It’s not part of my culture, so why do I have to comply? A fellow Indian-American had the final word – When in Rome do as the Romans do. You’re in the US, and the boys here don’t know about the astrological powers of the nine planets as represented in fine jewelry so get over it!
So the planets were packed away, awaiting martial bliss, and chunky, silver, unmistakably maiden trinkets were purchased. But so far we have only covered the jewel of marriage. What of the myriad hearts and gems of love? These, it turns out, have uses beyond adorning a woman’s extremities.
Recently, I was sifting through pieces at a Peruvian friend’s jewelry show when I found one worthy of extra attention. A faux Tiffany heart pendant. The classic boyfriend gift. But this was not the weight of it’s wispy original, hinting at romance in a delicate curve above the bosom, strands of hair at turns covering and revealing it like a cloudy day. This pendant was thickened and oversized with hefty layers of shiny 950 silver. It filled the open neck and demanded to be admired. I liked it, and it liked me. I was about to buy it when the familiar lament returned – to wear this is again to be falsely accused of coupledom. Or is it?
What does the prominent display of the classic Valentine’s Day gift from a loved – or liked – one convey to a prospective mate? The answer points in two promising directions for singles. First, silver is not gold, and it’s definitely not diamonds. If love is to be measured in precious metals, silver weighs in at blooming and tentative. A girl sporting a curvy heart is a ways away from the ‘full catastrophe’.
But doesn’t this still mean she’s taken? No. She’s not married which, from the man’s perspective, is the salient point. More interestingly, the heart declares that someone, at some point, found her worthy of romancing. Whether the pendant heart is a recent declaration, or the remnant of lovers past, it certifies value. For those who would object to such a classification, I offer the familiar scene of two lovely ladies entering a party, one escorted by a man while the other enters solo. The one in the company of the opposite sex is routinely more sought after. Why? Because nothing shines as brightly in a competitive man’s eye as a wanted woman. Inquiries will be made of the escort’s claims, their status, history, and solidity. And our lone feline in the corner? Well, she should have planned in advance by purchasing a chunky, faux Tiffany heart pendant for just such an occasion.
I bought the heart and am ready to begin the experiment. Will the silvery symbol attract eyes, inquiries, and ultimately dates? I will wear it frequently and report back. Of course, dear reader, the origins of the pendant’s purchase must remain our little secret. I’ll be keeping track of how many tales I can tell about the pendant and the men who gave it to me…