Saturday, March 2, 2013

No. 460 – Overfloater

Performer: Soundgarden
Songwriter: Chris Cornell
Original Release: Down on the Upside
Year: 1996
Definitive Version: None

Shortly after Debbie got her engagement ring in early 1997—it might even have been at Valentine’s Day—Debbie said she wanted me to have a ring, too. I wasn’t—and am not—a jewelry guy, but this was different. Of course, I would wear Debbie’s ring.

She let me do what we did with her ring—I got to design it in its entirety. Price was no obligation, but there was no question my ring would be far less expensive than hers.

When my friend Steve got married the first time, he had a ring the size of a class ring that had a flat onyx gemstone and a single diamond in it. I thought the onyx was really cool, and I wanted something like that. But I also wanted something unique. The only thing that came to mind was a baseball.

I thought it would be easy: Instead of just a single gemstone chip, I’d have three with thin gold bands that made up the seams separating the chips. Debbie loved the idea. Heck, our first date—even before we realized that it was a date—was a baseball game, so it seemed apropos.

We went back to the Diamond Cellar and spoke with the designer on staff. He said he could do it although—and I pre-emptively agreed with him on this—the laces would be too intricate for the size. The seams will be enough to make the design unmistakable.

I didn’t want onyx. I decided if I’m going to have a baseball theme, let’s go all the way. I wanted the stones to be red, white and blue.

The blue had to be lapis lazuli, but I didn’t know what the red and white should be. The designer said he had some white jade that would look good with the lapis, and I agreed, but he was stumped on the red. He said he’d go through his collection at home and bring in some options the next weekend.

When we went back, he showed me a few pieces of jade, and I picked out a nice baseball-colored cream stone to go with the lapis already chosen.

Now here’s what I have for red, he said, as he spilled out a few more stones onto his jeweler’s cloth. Nothing immediately jumped out like a garnet or ruby. He started talking about the stones, and he got to one that was brick colored and had a bit of ribbon in it, like marble. Now, this one here is dinosaur bone, and …

Wait, what? Dinosaur bone? Seriously, as in this came from an archeological dig? Yes, he said, although he didn’t know from what dinosaur.

The search was over. I had to have that one. Are you kidding me? I was a HUGE dinosaur nut when I was a kid. Long before I ever saw my first baseball card, I had dinosaur books that I’d read over and over while eating my cereal and plastic dinosaur figures that I’d play with for hours. The whole point of going to New York City the first time in 1970 when I was 6 was to see the dinosaur exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. Nothing could be more perfect than a baseball-shape ring that had dinosaur bone in it.

We left the designer to his work and went back a couple weeks later to inspect the results. It looked great. Yes, the red wasn’t as red as the white and blue were white and blue, but … it’s dinosaur bone, man. It doesn’t get any cooler than that. As far as I was concerned, it came from a T Rex. Hey, why not? No one knew the origins. I could make up my own history.

I was surprised at how comfortable the ring felt as I put it on, or, rather, as Debbie put it on me the first time. I was expecting to feel it on my finger, but aside from the weight, the ring felt natural. The designer did a heck of a job.

I wore that ring every day for the next 4 years, showing it to anyone who was interested—and plenty who probably weren’t—like a fiancé-zilla. When Debbie and I broke up, I kept the ring, like she kept hers. I still have it, but I’ve never worn it in the 12 years since.

Sure, it’s a baseball ring with dinosaur bone in it: It doesn’t get cooler than that, and I could wear it on my right hand, but principle trumps coolness. I’ll never get rid of the ring, but I’ll never wear it again.

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