Sunday, 26 June 2022

One Ring to rule them all

No, nothing so sinister as the baleful Ring in the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings! This is about my 70th Birthday Ring, which has been made, and was now back from hallmarking, and ready to try on two days ago. After a pleasant lunch with my local friends, I drove over to Pruden & Smith in Ditchling with one friend (Jo) to see what the finished article looked like. 

Emily greeted me, and then handed me over to Kat. It was all very exciting! And there it was: my brand-new, handmade, one-off, 9 carat white-gold Ring with a pale blue sapphire in a halo setting. I slipped it on, to test the fit. (All pictures were taken with LXV, one-handed in the main)

A perfect fit. The ring size for that finger was Q and a half. It slipped on nicely, but my thick knuckle ensured that it couldn't easily slip off. You can discern some of the Ring's facets, and the way it sparkles gently, rather than glinting in an eye-piercing fashion.

While Jo looked at a bracelet she was having made for her only niece's 21st birthday, I had plenty of time to chat with Kat, and then Rebecca, about my Ring and jewellery generally. 

I paid the balance due, £500, making precisely £1,000 paid altogether. I thought this was just the right amount for a Ring of this importance, without going over the top. The bulk of the material part of the cost was of course attributable to the sapphire. For the money I'd got myself a nice natural stone, unheated, but with visible inclusions. It wasn't at all the most expensive sapphire I might have chosen - such as a deeper blue stone, or one without visible inclusions. But it was the lighter colour I wanted (a kind of twilight-sky blue) and the inclusions - little flecks of other minerals, and internal kinks in the crystallisation - added character to my mind. Flawless things tend to lack individuality.

As it turns out, that £1,000 would be very handy just now, with a domestic rewiring job looming! But there's no fun, no pride of possession, and no significant meaning attached to a new consumer unit and a few electrical sockets. Whereas I shall wear this Ring constantly for the rest of my life. It may not confer special powers, but it will mean a lot to me. So blowing £1,000 on it - less my friends' birthday money contributions - seems amply justified. Well, you can disagree, but that's how I see it!

Here are two shots of Rebecca Smith, Kat Zahran, and a small but well-behaved doggy friend, whose precise role in the firm I didn't quite grasp. 

Jo was done. We made a merry departure. I dropped her off where she'd parked her car, then took the Ring to my house. The deal was that I hand it over to Jackie next door to retain and gift-wrap, ready for a Lunchtime Presentation at a nice pub in Petworth on the 6th July, my actual 70th birthday. But I felt entitled to have half an hour more with the Ring, chiefly to take pictures of it, as that's all I'd have for the next twelve days until the Presentation. 

Well, shall we open the box? Let's.

I'm looking at the hallmark. That's a cropped version of the full-sized photo, as LXV can't get in too close. Cropping further, and relying on LXV's excellent lens to keep things sharp, you can just about make out what the hallmark shows.

APRS is the maker's mark: Anton Pruden and Rebecca Smith. I can't quite make out the detail on the next three symbols. One should indicate the fineness of the gold (9 carat in this case), another where assayed. The X at the right end indicates the year assayed, in this instance 2022. 

The little Leica D-Lux 4 has a proper macro setting, and after Presentation I will use it to take a much clearer picture of the hallmark. Macro work is the one area where the little Leica can still trump LXV, my Leica X Vario. (It can also take a slightly wider-angle shot, but I don't value that ability nearly so much)

Let's put the Ring on again. 

I love the simple, unfussy design. And it's practical. It won't snag when putting clothes on, nor when taking them off - an especial potential problem when wearing any knitted item. The white gold goes very well with my existing silver jewellery.

In the shot just above, you can make out the cut facets better. And you can look into the heart of the stone. The inclusions scatter the light passing through, to create clustered points of sparkle. It seems to me that the inside of this sapphire shows the stars of the Milky Way, as seen overhead on a clear night, and possibly other, much more distant galaxies. So a little window on the infinite. Or is that way too fanciful?

Did the Ring look the same away from bright sunshine? I tried to take a few shots deeper inside my lounge, in more subdued light away from the garden window. 

Now that looked ridiculous! It got me laughing. (Hence the shaky focus)

I had my shots. I took the Ring off, popped it back inside the box, and took it next door to Jackie. 

Twelve days to go. Well, it's only ten as I write this!

Sequel on Tuesday 28th June
And now only eight days. The table at The Angel Inn at Petworth is booked for our lunch, and I can't wait to enjoy a few hours in sunshine with my fab friends in that little West Sussex town. As well as places to eat and have coffee, it contains a range of upmarket retailers, including boutiques and several art and antiques shops. Plus the National Trust's Petworth House and Park. All in a small area that my right knee won't have much to complain about. 

I'm driving us there. Fiona is raring to go, and in fact is getting a practice run to the north Kent coast today, with young Emma (actually a married lady of fifty-two, but she does look very young), a joint pre-birthday outing - we are both July-born - involving a beach lunch at Whitstable and then sunny, sandy strolls at Herne Bay or Minnis Bay, depending on our whim, with ice creams and afternoon tea to keep us going. 

LXV is also in a heightened state of readiness. It's vital that my latest camera is ready to capture the lunchtime Ring Presentation on 6th July! 

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