My track record with valuable jewelry is dismal. I've managed to lose almost every "nice" piece anyone ever gave me, from my grandmother's opal ring, to a diamond ring my mother designed, to a glitzy dinner ring my ex-husband gifted me. All three turned out to be stolen, but my carelessness led to their disappearance.
For example, each time I rode to swim practice as a child, I hung my opal ring on a hook above the car's backseat, but one evening, someone took it. Mom had locked the car but the back window was partially down. I guess someone had been watching and knew where to look? I do recall Mom telling me not to leave my ring on that hook, but, well, I was a stubborn kid.
As an adult, both the diamond ring Mom designed and my wide wedding band disappeared. I later saw one of my kids' babysitters wearing the band, so I asked her, "Where's the other ring?" She looked surprised, then told me she'd found the ring in my front yard. That might be true. My young son was known for hiding my rings in goofy places. He was a climber and would scramble atop the kitchen counter, then snag my rings out of a little dish on a ledge above the sink. Why he did this, we will never know. Perhaps he thought my rings were treasure to bury. One time I even found them inside the ash trap of our fireplace.
I hired a guy with a metal detector to explore the front yard but he did not find anything. Looking back, I should have called the cops but I didn't want to start a neighborhood war. The babysitter lived across the street. When I asked her, "Wouldn't you think that ring was mine if it was in my front yard?", she begrudgingly returned the wedding band. I never saw Mom's diamond ring again, nor did I hire that sitter or speak to her mother. In hindsight, I think the mother laid claim to the diamond ring, but I have no proof. Again, I should have called the cops.
As for the glitzy dinner ring my ex gave me long ago, a young, disturbed teen vandalized our home and took it. How did he get in? I rarely locked the house. I called the cops this time, and they eventually retrieved the deconstructed diamonds and gold via a pawnbroker. Much later, a jeweler friend made a new wedding ring for me out of the materials. I managed not to lose that ring until I sold it in desperation to the same jeweler for one-third its value (long story on that one).
In spite of my carelessness, my husband Bill still likes to gift me with nice things now and then. When we married, he gave me a lovely Blue Nile pear-shaped diamond engagement ring that paired with a wide diamond-studded wedding band. Together, the two were rather gaudy, but I was proud to wear them.
On my right hand, I wore a wide, thick gold band that held a large aqua tourmaline, a signature ring that a German jeweler in St. Thomas convinced me to buy. (Caution: if you go to a jewelry store in Charlotte Amalie, you will walk out owning something new.)
Several years ago, all three rings went missing. Bill and I searched the house and car, to no avail. For several days, I mentally retraced my steps until I recalled that I'd forgotten to take the rings off while mixing a meatloaf. They were terribly sticky, so I rinsed them in hot water, then laid them on paper towels to dry. Then it dawned on me that I had wiped my meatloaf-y hands off on more paper towels and must have gathered all the towels and put them in the trash. I went to the garage, retrieved trash bags, rummaged through several, and luckily found all three rings wrapped in meatloaf-y towels. This was one day before trash pick-up day. I was so angry with myself, I swore I would take better care.
The Solution: Faberge Eggs
To help with the problem, Bill bought me several "Faberge" eggs for the kitchen, bathroom, and office, key locations where I frequently took off my rings. These little eggs served me well, although now and then I would still misplace rings and later find them "someplace stupid," like the inset of the car door handle or zipped inside my swim bag after a workout.
In spite of my track record, all three rings managed to stay with me for 13 years, until November 2019, when I carelessly left them in a movie theater bathroom, never to see them again. I only took them off because my hands and fingers were sticky, and I needed to wash them. I recall telling myself not to leave the rings there, but evidently I did. I later called the theater, but no one turned them in. I called Austin police and filled out a report, but nothing happened. I checked online sales sites, but no. My rings had vanished. My heart was broken. To this day, I hope to find them on Ebay, Marketplace, or tucked in a coat pocket.
Since losing my rings, I told Bill not to present me with expensive jewelry anymore. But for Mother's Day this year, he gave me a white-gold chain to hold a white-gold plumeria pendant that Bill bought me in 2009 when he first came to the Big Island with me. I proudly wore that Na Hoku pendant and the new chain to dinner that night.
But days later, the pendant disappeared. Retracing my steps, I'd been picking up the house for our cleaning lady, Sue, who would never steal a thing, but I thought I should at least lock my valuable jewelry in the safe, because Bill and I would leave hours before Sue arrived. I have a jewelry box for costume jewelry and to hold the valuables when we are home, so I gathered the "good stuff," locked it in the safe, and we left for an appointment in Waimea.
Several nights later, Bill and I were going to Seafood Grill in Kawaihae, so I thought I would wear my new pendant and chain. I went to the safe, rifled through the valuables, but no pendant. The chain and other items were there. Where in the world was the pendant?
I went to my jewelry box on the nightstand and repeatedly explored all sections. I looked in the safe again, and again. I investigated all nooks, crannies, dishes, pockets, door handles, purses, and eggs where I might have left the pendant, but no. I examined the carpet beneath the safe, I checked under the bed and behind my nightstand, and I even peered inside our shoes.
I decided NOT to tell Bill because I could not bear his hurt look. Darn it! I had put the pendant in the safe! But where was it? I searched the safe again. Not there.
My Only Hope Was Sue
I called Sue and asked if she had heard a "clinking" sound while vacuuming. She said no, but told me she would check the contents of her vac-bag. Yikes! Bless her heart, Sue ripped through dust, dog hair, and who knew what else to see if my pendant was there, but no.
Over the next two weeks I kept looking for the pendant until Sue came to clean the house again. In advance, I cautioned her not to mention the missing pendant to Bill. She kept my secret but, after cleaning, she whispered to me that she had looked for the pendant the entire time, but did not see a thing.
"You'll probably find it someplace 'stupid,'" she said. And we both laughed, since this often turns out to be why something goes missing—you put it someplace stupid.
A week later, I went to the garage to get an extension cord. As I rummaged through a utility drawer where endless cords are entwined, something flew out along with the extension cord I had chosen. I heard a tinkle on the garage concrete floor. And there it was. My white-gold plumeria pendant.
I was stunned. In fact, I started crying and laughing at the same time. How in the world did that pendant find its way inside a utility cart drawer full of extension cords? I'll never know, and I can't even blame my son, because he is now middle aged.
I gleefully texted Sue. "I found it! Guess where? It was someplace stupid."