What do you do with your rings when you get divorced? Mine were pretty ordinary, to be honest. It’s not like I’d got a rock and a hunk of gold that would be worth selling. My (now ex) husband and I had gone ring shopping together, at my insistence, the day after he’d proposed.
It hadn’t been a classically romantic moment. I was driving south in the middle lane of the A1M just north of Ferrybridge — famous for its power station — when he asked the question. We were in the garden — if that’s not too grand a word for a scrap of grass with some picnic tables — of the Little Chef a few miles further south, when I answered it. There wasn’t going to be a ring until three weeks later, when he got paid, but I didn’t want to wait that long. I wanted to share our news and I wanted to show people a ring. So the next day, I went looking for reasonably priced jewellers in my lunch break and we met after work to buy a ring together. I paid for it. He paid me back at the end of the month. It cost considerably less than £100. But it had a little sapphire and a couple of tiny diamonds and I loved it. My wedding ring was equally modest.
Wedding and engagement rings are particularly intimate things, I think. You wear them for so long. We were married for about twenty years. A lot of life happened in that time, and they were constant companions. So while I didn’t want to wear them again, I didn’t want to throw them away either. They were sat in a box in my bedroom and I would occasionally come across them.
My friend Ange makes jewellery. Looking at her website, a couple of months ago, I realised what I wanted to do with my rings. I wanted to give them to her and ask her to make something new with them. It felt like a way of acknowledging the past, with all its joys and struggles; acknowledging the part that it’s played in shaping who I am. And a way of symbolising a new beginning.
She took these:
This is what she created:
I like my new ring very much. I love the contrast between the very traditional, ordered nature of my old rings and the much more messy, organic nature of the new one. It so perfectly depicts the journey that I’ve been on. The woman who walked down the aisle in 1998 knew that she didn’t know what the future would bring. But she had a bit of a plan, an idea of how life might proceed. Some hopes and expectations. An illusion of control.
And then life happened.
The joy is that although all the illusions have been shattered and there has been quite a lot of pain along the way and almost nothing has worked out as I expected and it’s all a bit messy and imperfect, there is beauty. I rather like what has emerged so far.
Life often seems to work that way. There is order. Then that all gets blown apart and there is disorder, often even destruction. And then, gradually, something new emerges.
If you’d like to see more of Ange’s incredible creations, you can find them here:
This post was first published on Catherine's blog on Medium