For somebody who often complains about her unexpected costs, and their effect on her spending power, I do tend to indulge myself at the drop of a hat!
I spotted a silver bracelet in the window of a jeweller's shop in Heathfield called Jocalia, and was amazed to see the resemblance between it and the silver necklace I usually wear when out and about. They would make a superbly matched set. I had to go in and enquire. The upshot was - need you have doubted it! - that I bought the bracelet.
I will tell you the cost: £199. Enough to make me hesitate. I did go off to have a coffee, and to think about it. I said to myself, I really ought not to be spending money on a piece of jewellery when the annual car service is approaching. But I hadn't ever seen a bracelet exactly like this; and I was keen to have one that went really well with my favourite necklace. And if I waited it would be gone.
So I made an Executive Decision. Here it is at home, with the necklace I already had. I think you will agree that they go together very well.
They share exactly the same construction, even the same robust type of hook fastening. They are both 'chunky' and eye-catching. I do so love the silky-smooth feel of silver, and its bright white brilliance, and how it quickly picks up the warmth of one's skin. And when woven into a flexible rope like this - now how do they do that? - both necklace and bracelet look just like little snakes, or, even more so, like sleek garden slow-worms. I've always considered the necklace my most successful and versatile piece of jewellery - it goes with almost any occasion, almost anything I might want to wear. Now it has a companion.
But I won't start wearing them both together as a standard kit! The necklace is special, and important to me in a way that the bracelet is not. The bracelet must first earn its place, by gathering associations around it. At the moment it's just a nice addition to my jewellery collection, and nothing more.
Although the necklace was not the last gift I ever had from M---, it was certainly the last one from the 'old days', before the calamity that was to sever our connection took proper hold. It was a peace offering at the tail end of a fretful day out in Bournemouth in late November 2008. Wandering around alone, I had seen it in a shop window, and was going to buy it for myself. The shop was called Enigma. It was just the kind of Indian shop that M--- liked, and so I had in mind getting her a little peace-offering there at the same time. We were going to meet up at 4.30pm, after dark on that late November afternoon. Here she is, vaguely visible in front of the shop window.
But it didn't go as planned. She appreciated my holding back till we met up again, and wanting to go into the shop with her, but she begged me to let her buy the necklace for me, as a gift. It was a gesture that I immediately understood and appreciated, and so I let her do it, wanting the necklace to be her special gift, and not simply a casual purchase of my own. There was another thing too. It matched one that I'd bought her years before, in much happier days. So now we both had a slow-worm around our necks.
Ever since then it has reminded me of a moment of restored closeness and harmony before, inevitably and so very soon, we fell apart again - this time without hope of ever reviving the friendship and mutual trust that we'd once had. So the necklace is also a reminder that tragedy lurks around every corner, and that you can count on nothing.
And yet that necklace remains cherished, and is one of the very last things I'd ever give up. That must partly be because it is after all an attractive thing in its own right, constantly something I want to wear, despite the troubled aftermath to its purchase, and all of the mixed associations. It's become almost a lucky charm, a kind of talisman. And even though I may wear my pearls, or other nice things, on the odd occasion, most of the time I prefer to put on this particular necklace.
So now I have three pieces of substantial silver jewellery. For there is also the hinged silver bracelet bought in September 2009, seen in these shots below:
The hinged bracelet is awaiting repair just now. After wearing it almost daily for five years, the steel spring in the hinge began to get weak, and it now needs renewing. I know two places where I can get that done, but the cost will be enough to make me let this ride until June or July.
All three have some noticeable heft. Out of curiosity, I weighed them today on my super-sensitive digital kitchen scales. This is the result:
'Slow-worm' silver necklace, 84g
New 'slow-worm' silver bracelet, 68g
Hinged silver bracelet, 51g
And this is what they cost:
'Slow-worm' silver necklace, £80 in November 2008
New 'slow-worm' silver bracelet, £199 in February 2016
Hinged silver bracelet, £120 in September 2009
So what are they all presently worth to buy? Taking the cost and weight of the new bracelet as a guide:
'Slow-worm' silver necklace, estimated current retail value £245
New 'slow-worm' silver bracelet, actual cost £199 in February 2016
Hinged silver bracelet, estimated current retail value £149
And would they be a useful little standby, if I ever fell on hard times? Probably not. I understand that unless it's a rare or unusual piece, you will get only a rock-bottom offer for any metal jewellery you might want to sell at a shop - not much more than its scrap value. At the moment, the price of silver is £0.34 per gramme, suggesting that I'd be fobbed off with these derisory amounts if I decided to sell to raise cash:
'Slow-worm' silver necklace, estimated current scrap metal value £28
New 'slow-worm' silver bracelet, estimated current scrap metal value £23
Hinged silver bracelet, estimated current scrap metal value £17
You can see how the manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing processes all dramatically increase the value of an article, adding (for instance) £199 less £23 = £166 to the price of my spanking new bracelet.
Makes you think!
But, as the case of my silver necklace shows, it's not the value that matters, but the cluster of associations that cling to the piece. That's why girls who married for love, and not for fortune, and whose bridegroom's cash resources were so slender that only a very plain modest wedding ring could be afforded, still treasure it. It's what it represents: what marriage promised, and all that actually happened, joyful or sad.