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To Bling Or Not to Bling This Holiday Season

To Bling Or Not to Bling This Holiday Season

On November 12th, Hawai’i lawmakers approved gay marriage, the sixteenth in the union to legalize same-sex marriage. Closing an historic year that witnessed the addition of seven states (Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois and Hawai’i) to enact gay marriage law suggests that many lesbians will gift small velvet boxes, or little light blue ones, and the promise of forever this December. Congratulations to all. But, and, consider that while diamonds may be a girl’s best friend on this side of the ocean, in their countries of origin their extraction from the earth leads to chronic health problems—and often prolonged or instant death—for miners. On your hunt for suitable bling for “the one,” consider the source.

I have loved gemstones since my mother gave me my first emerald ring on my sweet sixteenth. Emerald is the birthstone for May-ers, and like all gems rife with symbology (and in ancient times, cures). Emeralds symbolize hope; they are the sacred stone of the goddess Venus therefore thought to preserve love—including keeping lovers faithful—and believed to act as tranquilizers for a troubled mind. Some cultures held that the emerald could heal any disease related to the eye. Among stone-healers today, they are used to help heal the heart. Despite their characteristic fragility (—unless you are Queen Elizabeth II you will not wear an emerald ring day-to-day, no matter the setting—), or perhaps because of it, emeralds consistently hold the second-highest value among traditional precious gems, trumped by the ruby. (The accepted order of market value, providing the gems are of equable quality is: ruby, emerald, sapphire, diamond). By the time I turned thirty I had collected, either by purchase or through the generosity of loved ones, emerald earrings, a second and third emerald ring and an emerald pendant. I suppose I might’ve continued to fall for emeralds and other gems, but I traveled to South Africa—and visited a diamond mine. I have not worn any of my emeralds or any gemstone since—with the exception of a small diamond engagement ring that was a family heirloom (eventually returned to its giver).