Mary S. Palmer
The other night at a church fish fry when a well-dressed woman sat down at the table across from me, the first thing I noticed was her ring. I could hardly miss it; it was set with a diamond as big as a shooter marble.
She saw me staring and smiled. "My husband gave this to me for our thirty-fifth anniversary."
"It's beautiful." I didn't express my thoughts that it must have been quite a few years ago.
Her eyes lowered when she said, "Then I lost it."
What? How could she have lost it? It was still on her finger. To avoid embarrassing her, I didn't ask. The lady was elderly and she might not remember. Instead, I told her my own "ring" story.
"I designed a ring once," I began. "Of course, it wouldn't compare to yours but I was proud of it. It started when I saw an ad in the classifieds in the newspaper." I smiled at the memory. "It said, Weedeater, lawn mower, chair and diamonds. The other items didn't interest me but diamonds caught my eye."
"Did you know how to tell if they were real, dear?"
"I know real diamonds can scratch glass. But I can't say that I had a plan to make that test. I was curious enough to go check them out, though."
She nodded and I continued. "I knew by the address that she lived in a nice section of town, so I didn't hesitate. When I reached her two-story house and she invited me inside, I could tell that it was well-kept. The furniture fit the setting. Even though I thought everything was legitimate, I asked a few leading questions and found that she was a court reporter, moving to take a better job in Texas. It was funny, though, she asked me right away if I was there to see the Weedeater and she said, 'It's almost new and it's only $125.00'".
I noticed my seat-mate moistening her lips and felt she wanted me to get to the point of my story, so I talked a little faster. "Anyway, I told her, 'No, I'm interested in the diamonds.' She showed me a diamond pendant on a gold chain; it was over half a karat and was lovely. So was the ring. I wanted them but I doubted if I could afford either one. "How much is the pendant?" I asked.
"'Seventy-five dollars,'" she replied. 'The ring is the same.'
"I scrutinized them one by one. But I didn't ask for glass to scratch. They looked real but even if they were zircons, I thought they should be worth that much."
I chuckled. "When I hesitated, she made an offer. 'You can take them to a jeweler. If you don't want to keep them, I'll take them back.' She gave me her phone number, then asked again, 'Are you sure you can't use my Weedeater?' I didn't know why she was so anxious to sell that. Nor could I figure out why she'd sell diamonds so cheap. The closest I came was that she wanted to prove to her ex-husband that they weren't worth anything. Without questioning, I paid her seventy-five dollars for the pendant and twenty-five for the chair and left."
My friend smiled and I continued. "Well, I was very happy with the price of the mahogany side chair but I was more pleased when the jeweler appraised the ring at over two thousand dollars.
"I called the lady immediately. 'Do you want to bring it back?' she asked.
"'No'," I told her. "I want to buy the ring, too.' She said she'd hold it for me but I drove back to her house as fast as I could. I gave her another check and left with my treasure, elated at my good luck. I was even more thrilled that the jeweler said the ring was worth over a thousand dollars."
Mrs. X widened her eyes. "You must be Irish; that's the luck of the Irish."
"You're right. I am Irish on my mother's side. But there's more." I leaned forward and whispered. "When I decided the ring looked too much like an engagement ring and I bought a couple of diamonds cheap and designed a new ring, I decided to insure it. Was I in for a surprise! The insurance has to be calculated at replacement value, much higher than my investment. So, when I lost the ring a few years later, I got quite a large amount of money." I showed her my Baum-Mercier watch and three-quarter karat ring. Proudly, I added, "Better yet, these were on sale for half-price when I bought them to replace the ring. The best luck was that my insurance paid in full for both."
"My dear," she smiled, "you were lucky three times. Losing that valuable ring was certainly serendipity."
I smiled back as I twisted the ring to set the diamond upright, still wondering why that lady sold those diamonds so cheap, knowing I'd never really know.
Then my curiosity got the best of me. I took a chance that I wouldn't offend Mrs. X. "By the way," I asked, "you said you lost your ring, too." I pointed to her finger. "Did your husband buy you another one?"
She lifted her hand and stared at the ring she held close to her trifocals. "Oh, he didn't have to do that." Looking at me, she added, "You see, my little one karat diamond was well-insured, too."