I remember the emerald that Mum used to wear, a big square cut emerald in a ring on her right hand. Her left hand was for the wedding and engagement rings. She was a woman of taste, my mother, and wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing rings on every finger as her daughter now does.
I loved that emerald ring! So did she. We used to look at it together, at the way it caught the light, at the way it was cut with a sort of double edge inside the gold setting. We were both upset when one of those edges got a chip. Even then, it was many years later that I realised my mother’s ring was glass, and that she must have been well aware of that all along. But she used to call it ‘my emerald’ and I knew that dad gave it to her. I now have a different interpretation of the way she smiled when she said to her friends, ‘My emerald,’ flashing the ring. They would have known too, of course, and openly. It was a little joke between them as they agreed it was a beautiful ring. It was. I can still see it now, that deep green — and the size of it. A real emerald of that size would have been worth a great fortune.
My mother’s opal ring was real enough, but it was a doublet, two pieces of opal stuck together. It was deep blue and green. I liked fire opals best, still do, but Mum’s opal was very beautiful. She didn’t wear that often; it lived in a drawer. She always said she would leave it to me, but one day when my Aunty Kathleen was admiring it, Mum had a sudden fit of largesse and said, ‘Here, have it.’ Years later she said, You wil leave it to Rosemary, won’t you?’ Aunty Kathleen did, but by then it was not what it had been. No-one told her she shouldn’t put it in water. With a doublet, that changes the glue so that it shows through and ruins the look of the stone. I still have Mum’s opal ring, but I don’t wear the poor, pale, discoloured thing.
I wonder what happened to the emerald? Perhaps she threw it away after she and my dad divorced. She could have had real emeralds in her second marriage, but she went for diamonds instead. She left me her three-diamond ring which she was so pleased to have bought in Singa[ore for much less than she believed it was worth. It is an impressive ring, but when I wanted to raise some money recently I found that I couldn’t sell it. No-one is buying diamonds that size now. They are quite big, but not big enough.
All in all, I think the great big green glass ring was probably the best value, in terms of the pleasure it gave.