I'd noticed the store years ago. I always notice these kinds of stores. The neat, trim window front. The simple but blinding display. I remember gazing through that window longingly, craning my neck to look at price tags, before my husband and I got engaged.
The small leather boxes twinkle with memories, shiny and solid. The thick black velvet cradles a necklace of golden stones, a bracelet of blue and red and even a tiara. Green stones blinking, seed pearls tiny and imperfect, set out for the world to see.
I can count on one hand the pieces of nice jewelry that I own. Well, actually, half a hand. I'm not that into jewelry really. In fact, I never so much as look at it . . . unless, well, unless it's old.
There is something about estate jewelry. In this world of sameness, estate jewelry is one of a kind. Truly unique. Most often it is hand crafted. It holds a story. Memories. History. Who knows who owned it before? Whose great grandmother? Some marchioness in a distant land? Like all good second hand goods, it also comes cheaper than new and doesn't serve up a big ole carat of guilt.
Few things come with as much eco-baggage as new jewelry.
I had long heard of the trouble with diamonds. I watch Blood Diamond. The entire continent of Africa has been torn asunder, children have been turned into soldiers, women raped, villages destroyed as various factions fight over diamonds.
I had no idea, however, that the eco-issues with jewelry don't stop at diamonds. According to Big Green Purse, gold mining is equally problematic. "Toxic chemicals like cyanide and mercury, which leach gold out of rock, pollute drinking water supplies, contaminate farmland, and threaten the health of workers and communities. One gold ring generates 20 tons of mine waste." Read more about the impact of gold mining at No Dirty Gold.
Which brings me back to the window in front of me. Patina. That's the name of the store. It connotes a beauty that comes only with natural aging. I twist the engagement ring on my finger. A vintage piece that my husband bought at an antique store. I love my ring. I've never seen another like it. It holds my history as well as the history of some other woman from some other time. The impact of its creation are long past. The small diamond still gleams in the sunlight. Yes, I love this ring.
But, if I were to ever need another piece of jewelry, a pretty necklace, for instance, I'd know where to look. After all, diamonds - certain diamonds - are a girl's best friend.