The love story behind my ring

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I posted yesterday about the story of how Alex proposed, since it was the two year anniversary of the proposal. I mentioned that my engagement ring was a combination of two family rings, and I could not love it more. This is its story!

Each time I look at my left hand and catch a glimpse of my engagement ring, I think of something different.

Sometimes I think of the night I got engaged.

Sometimes I think of wearing my wedding dress and exchanging vows.

Sometimes I just get lost in the sparkle and stare for a few seconds too long.

And then there are times I think of my grandmother, Betty. Or my other grandmother, Reda.

The story of my engagement ring begins years and years ago. It was the early 1950s, and my maternal grandfather, Sonny, was ready to propose to my grandmother, Betty. He went to an estate sale and found a beautiful vintage platinum wedding set: an engagement ring with a marquise-cut center diamond and two baguettes on the side, and a wedding ring with a fishtail design of platinum and small round diamonds. The exact age of the set isn’t known, but it’s been estimated that the rings are now about 100 years old. A timeless set that had no doubt been beloved by the first owner (or owners), and was beloved and worn by my grandmother for many years.

In early 2010, my grandmother decided that she didn’t need to keep her original bridal set anymore. After nearly 60 years of marriage, she had other rings that she wore more frequently than the delicate antique set given to her decades before. At the time, both my mom and I were in serious relationships that were on the brink of an engagement. My grandmother offered her wedding band to my mother, and her engagement ring to me.

I told Alex that my grandmother was offering her engagement ring to me. Although I wanted him to have something to do with the selection of the ring, I asked that he hold onto it and use it somehow in the ring he would propose to me with (whenever that may be – no pressure!). As a sentimental person, I asked that he keep the integrity of the ring intact – the last thing I wanted was a jeweler melting it down and starting from scratch.

Around the same time, my paternal grandmother, Reda, had mentioned to me that she had several diamonds that she would like to pass down to her five granddaughters, should they want to use them in their engagement rings. These family stones came from different pieces of heirloom jewelry: the rings of her late sisters, or fancy cocktail rings and solitaire earrings given to her throughout her 60+ year marriage to my grandfather, Red. I put a bug in Alex’s ear that he could ask my grandmother for a diamond if he wanted to. I made it clear that it was up to him if he accepted a family stone, as I didn’t want to step on his toes if he wanted to purchase a diamond himself! 

Fast-forward a few months to September 2010. Alex and I drove down from South Carolina to Gainesville to attend the Florida football season opener. As is tradition in my father’s family, the whole family met up prior to the game for a tailgate party: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – the whole bunch. I was enjoying the time with my family in the early September heat and getting excited for the kickoff of football season. I was completely oblivious to the fact that my grandmother slipped a small box in Alex’s pocket that contained a ring that housed what would be the central diamond in my engagement ring. (Coincidentally, Alex asked my father’s permission for my hand in marriage that same day, at the game during halftime: I guess football can really bond men!).

my grandmothers and I and our rings on my wedding day
Jump to October 15, 2010. I knew an engagement was coming and coming soon. We’d had all the typical conversations a couple has before the guy pops the question, and with all the family jewelry that had been offered to us lately, I figured Alex would be proposing soon. It was a cool Friday night in Greenville, South Carolina, and Alex got down on one knee by the river and asked me to be his wife.

After I said “Yes!” with a lot of enthusiasm and a few happy tears in my eyes, I just stared at the ring on my finger for a moment, overcome with shock and amazement. I hadn’t been shy about telling Alex about the style of ring I liked, but I wasn’t sure if he would or could achieve that using my grandmother’s engagement ring, which was the most important thing to me. And little did I know that he had gotten a diamond from my other grandmother. Alex began explaining its pieces that made the ring a true one-of-a-kind. It was stunning: the platinum setting and band with two side baguettes, exactly as when it was purchased at that estate sale so many years before. In place of the original marquise sat a round diamond from Reda, different from modern diamonds because it had been cut in the 1970s, giving it a unique sparkle. And around the center diamond was a halo of 16 round diamonds purchased by Alex to complete the style of ring that I loved so much. Perfect didn’t even begin to describe it.

After the proposal, surrounded by my family and friends, it was in the restaurant light that I really got my first good look at the ring that housed as much family history and love as I imagine any piece of jewelry ever could.

my grandmothers Betty and Reda
My mom was remarried on May 28, 2011, and exchanged vows using her mother’s original fishtail-design wedding ring that my grandmother had given to her. Alex and I were married 6 weeks later on July 9, 2011, and I exchanged vows using a ring Alex had custom made to reflect the history of my engagement ring: a pattern of baguettes for Betty and round diamonds for Reda.

My bridal set is a literal combination of the three most important things to me: 
my mother’s family, 
my father’s family, 
and my husband. 

My engagement ring is itself like a family: individual parts from different beginnings, all beautiful on their own, but even more beautiful together. 
No part is more important than another. 
It is an heirloom made of heirlooms; it is two families’ histories paired with the new beginnings and promise that a wedding brings.  
Yep, I'd say Alex did pretty good. 


  1. Replies
    1. ps I nominated YOU for a blog award this time :)

  2. Gorgeous ring and an amazing story! I love the sentimental value of jewelry passed through generations - I have several pieces of my grandmothers and I cherish them all.

  3. That's such an amazing story! I love family heirlooms and that he respected the ring for you!

  4. wow what a cool story about your ring!! how nice of your grandparents to want to pass them out and what a great history behind your ring

  5. What a beautiful story! It makes your ring so much more than a piece of jewelry doesn't it!

  6. Hey there. I'm a new follower. Your blog is so cute! I love the story behind your ring! It's beautiful and having so much of your family history with it makes it all the more special!

  7. This post is absolutely beautiful and I love the generation of hands. I wish I would've thought of that on my wedding day. Loved finding your blog and can't wait to see what else is in store for you.

  8. That was a very inspiring and touching story, Kristin! And I think you have a unique engagement ring on your hand that will remind you of the three most important things in your life. And the ring itself is a unison of your family bonding. I’m sure that both your grandmothers appreciate what Alex did. And now, it is a symbol of Alex’s everlasting love for you. Congratulations on your wedding and I hope that two of you have a blissful life. ;-)

    Kimmy Barnes

  9. The story behind your ring is really amazing! Your ring isn’t just a symbol of the vow you made with each other, but it also tells a lovely story about the unity, affection, and love that you enjoy from your family and Alex. Your wonderful grandmothers wanted to give you an extraordinary gift, and Alex found a way to put them together. Thus, a perfect engagement ring was made!

    Rochel Faltus

  10. That’s very sweet and sentimental. Those rings are not just your typical rings; it is a symbol to which a remarkable history is embedded. You’re lucky to be holding and continuing such a sweet family legacy, Kristin! Best wishes! =)

    - Bridget Rossi

  11. Really nice Post i have much enjoyed to read this and its true that one of the best ways to start off an engagement is by having a unique and different Diamond Engagement Rings.


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