Marilyn Monroe sang, "Diamonds are a girl's best friend".
IMHO, it depends on the girl and the situation. Coming from a working class background, bred on frugality, I had never really cared for "show" jewellery. Gold and jade, I understood -- gold is for preservation of value and useful in slim/war/chaotic times, jade is for protection of the owner/wearer as Chinese traditional beliefs go. Diamonds? Sapphires? Rubies? And other expensive stones? Nope, I didn't understand those... until I got my first, thanks to AL.
Part 10 - The diamond turning point
It was the early-2000's, some months before my trip to France. As per AL's request, we celebrated my birthday by having dinner together and going the movies. If I remember correctly, we watched the touching romantic comedy 瘦身男女 [Love on a diet]. I could not keep back my tears towards the end of the movie -- it was touching how much the male protagonist would do to help the female protagonist fulfil her dreams of reuniting with her former boyfriend. And the lyrics of the Cantonese song 终身美丽 [Lifelong beauty] that goes with it was so meaningful.
终身美丽 [Lifelong beauty]
After the movie, I decided that we should each head our separate ways home. Then AL stopped me and insisted that he needed to talk to me. So we sat down on a stone bench near the cinema and he presented a paper bag with his birthday gift for me.
I noted that the paper bag was that of a posh jewellery chain that had a store along CityLink Mall. I hesitated -- then I thought perhaps AL is just re-using the paper bag from a previous purchase, something that I often do. I first took out the birthday card and read it. Then with AL urging me, I opened the gift. It was a white gold necklace with a small diamond pendant -- of decent quality [0.1-carat, round cut, F colour, VVS1 clarity, GIA certified diamond pendant]. I was stunned. Knowing how frugal AL was and his middle-class family background, it is certainly something that he would not splurge on unless it is someone really special to him.
My immediate response, "I don't want it. It is too expensive. You should give it to your wife."
AL replied, "I bought an identical one for her. This one is specifically for you. Please keep it."
[Note: Those were not our exact words because we spoke in Cantonese to each other.] I told AL that I would keep the card but he should keep the gift, maybe for his about-to-be-born daughter. He refused, stating that it was for me, and that if I didn't want it, he would just leave it on the stone bench for anyone to find it. I know AL well enough that he meant what he said, and I didn't want his hard-earned money to go to waste, so I accepted it, thinking to myself that one day when his daughter grows up, I can re-gift it back to her.
That said, AL's reply woke me up to the fact that he has no intention of changing the way things were between him, 6Snoopys (his wife) and me. For any change to happen, it has to come from me. Slowly, I slipped into alternating between anger at how unfair life was to me and sadness at the disaster that my love life was. Strangely, in keeping up a 女强人 [i.e. "strong woman"] image, I managed to fool even myself that I was not sad -- until on the first evening when SMS and I met, he reached out and my tears flowed uncontrollably.
For a while after that incident, I decided as a 女强人 [i.e. "strong woman"] that I would not deprive myself or rely on men to buy me jewellery. I would buy myself jewellery that I fancied. I started collecting some items for my wealth vase.
Years down the road, I am back to my "I don't really care for show-jewellery" mode. While "spring cleaning" my home in my late-30's, I donated away a sapphire that I bought (on impulse) in Thailand so as not to be bogged down by the sad memories of the plans I had with it. I thought of donating away AL's diamond too, but decided to keep it in the end -- at least he had loved me at some point. I no longer plan to re-gift it to his daughter when she grows up. It may bring up odd questions, which is not in anyone's best interest.
That said, I do have a small collection of semi-precious stones. They are more for the fun I had when learning about the (pseudoscientific) healing properties of these stones (i.e. crystal healing).
If any of my readers plan to impress the lovely women in their lives with jewellery, my 2 cents is that it is best to test the waters, check what she values. Frankly, I would be more impressed with a sensible "retire together plan" than a multi-carat diamond engagement ring. Btw, 24K gold is good with me, anytime! Yeah, I am such a "gold-digger", haha!