Gaping holes: A lost diamond and the embrace of a community
Last Sunday, I was standing in the kitchen with my husband having just prepared a rather elegant (read: complicated) dinner when I glanced down at my hand and saw the gaping hole. One of the three stones from my beloved century-old engagement ring had gone missing. Before me was the familiar sight of my lovely old ring with two sparkling diamonds and one bezel surrounding an abyss.
Over the past two years I have lost some extraordinarily import things in my life, and I’m not talking material. These losses are enough to know that a missing stone from my ring was cause for sadness but not panic. That it wasn’t a disaster. As a generally anxious person, I felt grounded by my own assessment of the situation.
We looked in the obvious places, I may have spent some time crawling around on the kitchen floor with a headlamp while my sweet husband undertook the less-than-appetizing task of sifting through the top layer of our rather ripe compost bucket.
The next day I elected to revisit a brilliant column from The New Yorker that draws a parallel between losing a loved one and losing a possession. First published online the very day of my father’s unexpected death two years ago, revisiting When Things Go Missing in the wake of losing my stone felt more poignant than ever.
I knew the possibility of finding the stone was slim if not nonexistent. We had only been a few places, but with rock salt on the icy winter ground identifying a small diamond would be near impossible. Walks on our property provided as great a dilemma, it could be there buried under the sparkling white snow we had traipsed multiple times that day.
Yet I decided to make a Facebook post, sharing more than might have been necessary, I wrote an impassioned plea to anyone who might have the fortune or eagle eye to spot the glimmer of a wayward diamond. I was stunned by the response I received from my own Facebook community. What the heck? I thought, I’ll share it on (the ever popular catch all forum for all things local) Midcoast Message Board.
The response was something I couldn’t have imagined.
From tips and words of encouragement (“were you wearing gloves?” “check in the treads of your shoes! I found mine there once!”) to full on stories of losing stones and finding them (or not) from friends, acquaintances and many, many complete strangers.
Interestingly, I had told Ethan that nearly every woman I know has a similar story, what I found out on social media more than confirmed my theory.
Almost every story had a common theme: The stones that turn up did so in their own time, and in some of the least likely places.
One woman recalled searching everywhere only to eventually find her stone tucked in the bottom of her reusable fabric grocery bag. Another recalled losing an earring atop Ragged Mountain only to return the next day and find it right where she had pictured it departing her earlobe.
An impressive story was shared by a woman who recalled her mother’s lost wedding band, seemingly irretrievably gone in the sand at Pemaquid. Her father returned, staked a grid and began sifting. The ring was miraculously recovered.
When I suggested —half jokingly — that one of our dogs may have scarfed the stone Ethan offered to start sifting.
“Sweetheart, we have to draw the line somewhere,” I told him.
Additionally, there were countless stories of retraced steps, hands stuck into a pocket that had been checked countless times only to finally discover a stone hiding in a crease of fabric.
Perhaps the most notable story came from a friend who recalled her mother’s lost stone. The family searched exhaustively for it, only to ultimately replace it. Years later they were donating the family’s old couch, and as they loaded the sofa they heard something rattling about inside. Guess what it was?
My ring is antique and lovely, but it’s not some tremendously expensive piece. A few folks suggested filing a claim with my homeowner’s insurance company, which I elected not to attempt. The loss isn’t monetary, it’s sentimental. Sure, we will incur a cost to fix it, but it seemed like an unnecessary thing to ask of my homeowner’s insurance.
More importantly, perhaps is working with a jeweler to find a suitable replacement stone, luckily some brilliant local artisans have also joined the chorus with willingness to help source an appropriate, period-correct stone. One women even advised me on how silly a new diamond would look in the setting, I replied that any replacement would most assuredly be historically faithful.
Ironically, the ring that I am wearing in place of my currently decommissioned engagement ring is one that I found on the ground. Not just anywhere, but in downtown Camden on Bay View Street which is where my stone would be if it were not in our house or car.
I was 16, two decades ago next week, when I found this ring, a delicate platinum band inset with ruby and diamond chips. Months later, when it was never claimed I was allowed to keep it.
As you may have guessed, my stone has not turned up. I finally acquiesced and vacuumed the house, hoping to hear a ping in the canister as I did (something another woman suggested as her family had once found her mother’s lost stone in a vacuum cleaner bag). Alas, the whereabouts of my stone remain unknown.
Perhaps befitting this column is a comment that a friend made on my follow up social media post from late last week - just as I was writing this column. A librarian herself, she suggested compiling an anthology of the stories that have been shared with me and added one of her own: “I have a farmer friend who lost her wedding ring while working in the fields and found it almost TEN years later. I'm totally not kidding.” She wrote.
While I can’t say I am glad to have lost my lovely old stone and the memories carried within its 100 years as part of my ring, I am abundantly grateful for the experiences that have been shared with me, and for the approximately 80 friends and strangers who shared my post far and wide. Whether or not the stone turns up, the advice and camaraderie have both been remarkable.
For every experience there is a community, and I am ever thankful for the community of kindred women who generously shared their experiences (and well-wishes) with me.
Reach Jenna Lookner at firstname.lastname@example.org