Opinions & Musings

A Lesson In Diamonds.

Let’s talk about diamonds, shall we?  What if I told you that you can find a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind diamond ring for a fraction of the price you would expect to pay?  I went on such a quest that ended with this ring:

IMG_1733_ring

One night over dinner, while pregnant of course, I casually mentioned to Mr. Heatherland that I had a keen interest in receiving a push present.  He looked at me confused as he waited for the explanation of what a push present was, and by the end of my persuasive pitch, he thought it was a decent request.

Until the next day, when he asked some of his friends at work if they had given their wives a push present.  The answers poured in at a resounding, “No, the baby is the gift“. So when he came back to report his findings, I wasn’t sure who I wanted hit with a sock full of nickels first, the guys at his office or their wives… It was a tough call.
But luckily Mr. Heatherland is a reasonable fella that likes to pick his battles, and this one was not worth the debate since he really felt like I deserved a gift.  Phew!  I then told him that I thought it would be a marvelous idea if my push present was another diamond ring to stack with my engagement band; after all what good is having a band if you can’t stack it with other bands?
I’m sure Mr. Heatherland wished he had known about the “stacking plan” before buying me such a generous engagement band, but now he knows I had envisioned one ring to symbolize our marriage, one to symbolize our child, and one to symbolize a big anniversary. Lucky for me I have man hands very robust fingers that can carry such lofty jewelry ambitions.

THE ESTATE CASE

The hunt was afoot, and after just a few tries we quickly discovered that there weren’t a lot of other bands that complimented mine. Stacking was going to be much harder than I thought. You see, the height of my original band was quite taller than a traditional “stacker” and nothing was really looking good with it.  We were starting to think we needed to have a ring made, which was not really in the budget.
We went to Long’s jewelry store to poke around and get an idea on the height a custom band needed to be.  As we wandered around, trying on different rings and perusing the cases of jewelry, the last stop we made was their estate case to looked at some of the consignment pieces.
Immediately my eye went to this circa 1910 five stone diamond ring. It was taller than mine, but I loved the way they looked together.
diamond_ring_in_sun
Mr. Heatherland was not so keen at first because it was seemed so much bigger than the engagement band, but then we started talking brass tacks about the price and learned something very interesting.

ANTIQUE DIAMONDS VS MODERN DIAMONDS

This ring has five Old European Cut diamonds, making it very unique to todays diamonds.  Antique diamonds were hand cut with inventive faceting techniques during the 18th and 19th century to make them sparkle under gas lamps (since they were cut and worn before electricity was invented!). That makes them 100% one-of-a-kind, not cookie cutter laser cut diamonds.
But here’s the kicker: The way they GIA values antique diamonds is to compare them to modern standards of cut, clarity, and color. You have to remember that these diamonds were cut a century ago before the whitest diamonds of South Africa were even discovered! So how do they measure up to modern standards? Well, lucky for me… Not well!  As a consumer you can score wonderfully large, gorgeous diamonds at a fraction of the price.
There is a whole camp of antique jewelry dealers that have lobbied to get updated standard to grade antique diamonds on their own scale so they can fetch higher prices, but a true and meaningful change has yet to be implemented.
This ring cost 80% less than what it’s modern day equivalent would have run us. And it truly is gorgeous! It holds up next to my modern band very well, complimenting it perfectly.

A RARE FIND

Antique diamonds are becoming more and more rare as well.  Historically people would purchase a large antique stone with the intention to recut it with a laser to give it the modern day brilliance we’ve grown to expect- and in the meantime losing up to 20-25% of the diamond.  To find untouched antique diamond is a special thing.  There are three main styles: Old Mine Cut, Rose Cut, and Old European Cut.
(illustrations sourced from Erstwhile)

diamond_cuts

OLD MINE CUT, CIRCA 1750

IMG_3784
Old mine cut diamonds were developed in 18th century Europe.  Also known as cushion cuts, these diamonds were not round but had a slightly curved edge which formed a soft square. And because they were cut by hand to maximize their brilliance, they displayed a variety of facet patterns. 

ROSE CUT, CIRCA 1800

 IMG_3785

Hello, unique.  With just 24 facets, the subtle beauty of rose cut diamonds is that they impart a soft diffused light rather then the bright light we expect from diamonds. The most distinctive trait of a rose cut diamond is that they are flat at the bottom and dome shaped at the top.
 

OLD EUROPEAN CUT CIRCA 1900

 IMG_3786

The prevailing style from the 1890s to the 1930s, Old European cut diamonds are the grandfathers to the modern round brilliant cut we know today. This cut is rounder from the top than the old mine cut’s cushion shape, but has the same number of facets as a modern diamond, but the facets are large triangles instead, and the cutlet at the bottom is flat and visible when you look directly down at it.

HOW TO FIND THEM

My late night google-ing led me down lots of avenues to find antique diamond rings.  But the best websites I found are Fancy Flea AntiquesEragem, and Erstwhile.

Erstwhile

Erstwhile

Erstwhile is my favorite by far.  If you have the budget and a taste for the finer things it’s a joy to swoon over their curated pieces as well as their own originals.

Erstwhile

Erstwhile

If you happen to live in New England, a trip to Market Square Jewelers is a must.  They specialize in this sort of thing and have a great selection at modest prices.  This is just the place to score something great.  They also have a sampling of their vast inventory on their Etsy Storefront.

DOLLARS AND SENSE

Admittedly, I asked Mr. Heatherland to stretch the budget a little to accommodate this ring, but in my defense it is certainly a whole lot prettier and more unique than what I initially thought I wanted.

push_it_ring

For a single hot minute I actually felt bad about stretching the budget.  But then after experiencing my prolonged back labor in an unassisted, unmedicated birth I think I earned EVERY DAMN CARAT… I pushed, my God did I push! But that’s a story for a different day.

Push It.

So what do we think of Push Presents?  For those of you that said, “What the hell is a push present?”, it’s a gift given to a women after carrying/delivering a baby.
Let me go on the record and say, I love the idea of a push present.  I wish it would be rebranded without the word “push” in it, but otherwise I love it, love it, love it.  My theory is, if I receive gifts for hosting a party, why shouldn’t I receive a gift for hosting a human in my uterus for 42 weeks plus 1 day (not that I was counting)?
I had kind of assumed everyone was on board with the notion.  After all, who doesn’t like getting a present?  But when I was pregnant and talking openly to my clients about looking/wanting/yearning for a push present, a lot of them were Debbie Downers telling me “The baby is the gift”.
 gift_push_it

 Is the baby the gift?

Well… Yes and no. Just like everyone always says, raising a child is the hardest and most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.

 

Okay, so sure, the baby is a gift. But during the hard times, like up at 2am, 3am, and 4am breast feeding “my gift” while he kicks at my flabby stomach, pulls my hair, and scratches my neck (those little nails are so sharp!), sometimes I need to look down at my hand and see a sparkly little bobble shining back at me.  I take a minute to think, yup I totally deserved this. Then that thought is interrupted by my other “gift’s” explosive diaper situation.

Haters Gonna Hate

There are all sorts of frigid women on the interwebs spewing their snarky remarks about push presents, and the selfish women that receive them.  My favorite are the ladies that think it’s somehow a misogynistic gesture of our patriarchal society to give a woman a “reward” for being a birthing vessel because that’s all we’re good for. And if that’s what you think, you gotta loosen up, no wonder no one wants to give you a gift.
I’m learning that anything that has to do with pregnancy, birth, babies, and parenting is subject to ridicule by others that have children.  Because it seems like every topic has “camps” or “tribes” of women that live to love/hate things.  Apparently motherhood is cliquey like middle school.

THE LAST HURRAH

To anyone noodling on the idea of asking for, or mentioning wanting a push present, let me point out the obvious:  The moment you have your baby, you will no longer be the center of attention in anyone’s eyes except for your baby’s.  Take advantage of those pre-birth days because it might be the last time someone will buy you something just for you.

This is only highlighted by the fact that while you are pregnant you will open the most amounts of gifts in your life- but most of them are onesies, blankets, or something nipple related (yes, sad but true).  But if you know this is going to happen, why not celebrate your last gift in style and make it a good one: Ahem… diamonds.

How to drop the hint

What do you do if your partner has never heard of a push present?  Or has heard of them, but thinks they are silly.  Well, if you really want something, say something.
  1.  Be Honest: As my grandfather used to say: “You can wish in one hand, shit in the other and see which one fills up faster.”  Don’t silently wish for a gift, this is not the time to be vague.
  2.  Be Realistic:  Don’t let the pregnancy hormones warp your sense of reality.  You are not a Kardashian.  You should be fully aware of what you and your partner are capable of spending.  If you really need a new car to cart your baby around in, don’t ask for a Mercedes G-wagon if you guys have been looking at Kia Sedonas.
  3. Be Thankful: In no way is labor an easy task, but if someone you love gives you a gift, any gift, you should be grateful and thankful for the gesture.
push_it_ring
So what did I ask for?  Well, that’s a story for another day…. And it’s a good story!

“5 s’s” of Nursery Nesting.

My pregnancy has been plagued with morning all day sickness, and I partly believe that looking at “nursery decorating ideas” online was responsible for some of my nausea.  Why on earth are people so obsessed with decals?  And murals?  And the commercialization?  Babies don’t know who Elsa from Frozen or Thomas the Train are, so why are expecting mothers forced to subscribe to this garbage before their baby has even been born?

 

Because of my love for aesthetics, creating the baby’s room feels like participating in the role I was born to play.  I waited as long as I could before getting this project going, because I know that I can get out of control (read:over-budget) if I have too much time to let something roll around in my brain.  But the moral of this design story is there is a big difference between child friendly and childish.

 

While stalling on the nursery project, I read “The Happiest Baby on the Block” and memorized the 5 s’s for calming my future baby.  And then I started thinking about the nursery decor in the same regard, what would the 5 s’s be for calming a new mom’s nerves while planning a the baby’s room?

 

My 5 s’s for nursery design are: Style, Simplicity, Safety, Sanity, and Selfishness.

 

Style

Just like all the other rooms in your house, it’s important to stay true to what your individual style is.  A nursery is no different, if you don’t stay true to your personal style the baby’s room will look out of place in your home- and odds are you will grow tired of it very quickly.

Nursery_room

 

Our home is the epitome of my personal style (Mr Heatherland has been very accommodating to that), so I kept the nursery walls light and neutral like everywhere else, and this furniture could easily be moved into any other room and wouldn’t clash with anything.   

 

nursery_dresser

 

SIMPLICITY

It’s easy to over-decorate a nursery.  So try to keep it simple and use what you have on hand until you know for sure you actually need something.  I got it in my head that I really wanted a rocking chair, because so many people told me to buy one, but then when I started thinking about it I haven’t actually ever sat in a rocking chair that I liked.

nursery_chair

So I crossed that off the list and used a chair that I re-finished a few years ago.  It’s very comfortable, has a footstool, and if I decide later on that I really need something else, at least I didn’t make a needless purchase ahead of time.

 

Safety

I think every first time mom has a fears about their child’s safety.  Anything that moves, or anything that can be grabbed by my kid needed special consideration.  I examined the room, there were two things in particular that kept me up at night.

1.  The cord from the baby monitor made me nervous.

nursery_monitor

 

Not because I thought my baby would get strangled by it, but I did think my child would yank on it and it would tumble down on said child’s perfect little face.  To rectify the problem, I mounted a corner shelf above the door with a great vantage point aimed at the entire crib (as well as the whole room when zoomed out) and tucked the cord behind the shelf and the framework of the door.  There is officially nothing to grab.

 

2.  The mirrors I *had* to hang over the crib were a huge problem.

nursery_crib

You may ask “Why didn’t you just not hang the mirrors?”  That’s a fair question, but the baby’s room is so small that I needed as many surfaces as possible to reflect light off of.  These mirrors each have a large wooden frame, so I marked the studs and screwed the frames directly into them in 4 spots each.  After they were secure, I patched and painted the holes in the frames.  These mirrors aren’t going anywhere.  Ever.

 

SANITY

When the house is tidy, clean, and sparkling like a model home I am at my most sane.  There will be a huge shift in my particular brand of sanity once this baby comes.  But I can at least get some systems in place now to try and preserve a tiny shred of it.

 

Although things won’t always be clean, at least I can have supplies organized.  Starting with the dresser drawers.  Having diaper changing supplies and baby health accessories close at hand and visible in clear boxes will keep it simple when someone other than me is looking for a product.

nursery_drawer

Since the baby clothes are so tiny and don’t take up a lot of closet space, I installed some closet shelving and used 11×11″ collapsible office bins to give non-essential items a home.

nursery-closet

I used chalkboard hangtags on them so they can stay labeled even as the contents change.

nursery_bin_tags

 

Selfishness

When your baby gets older he or she will tell you what they want their room to look like.  But until that day comes, you’re the one who has to look at the room.  It should soothe you, it should make you happy, and in summation:  The nursery is just another room for you for awhile.

nursery_books

When I thought of my nursery, I imagined a comfortable spot to read books to my unborn child.  Instead of wall art for Baby’s room, I used picture ledges to keep a good selection of books visible, and then when they are overflowing the unpopular books, or ones we outgrow will be moved to a bookshelf.

 

So far my favorite book is Owl Moon.  Hopefully I’ll be reading it to this little baby soon, not just my belly bump.

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