Originally appeared on The Scout Guide Alexandria
I love jewelry, mainly because there is always a good story behind it. Beloved pieces of jewelry are passed down from one family member to the next and precious stones and pearls are obtained while on holiday or business travel. Sometimes you treat yourself to a fancy new bauble just because, but even then, it is still a very personal thing. One of my favorite pieces of jewelry is a sapphire and diamond necklace given to me by my late husband when our daughter was born with the intent I would pass it down to her on her wedding day as her “something blue” from her Daddy.
My late husband also gave me a stunning cushion-cut Ceylon sapphire flanked by diamond trillions at the time of our engagement. The ring was so unique we never ended up getting a wedding band to go with it, because everything we looked at only detracted from the beauty of the ring itself. After my husband passed away, I continued to wear my sapphire on my left hand. I had always treasured that ring but I suddenly appreciated its unique qualities so much more. The brilliant blue was the color of his eyes and our daughter’s, and since it was not a traditional setting, I was not faced with making this big, dramatic decision of what day I needed to stop wearing my wedding ring. Since it was essentially a cocktail ring, I could easily move it over to my right hand to try it out there some days. On other days, I practiced not wearing it at all, but that never felt quite right.
After more time had passed, I finally decided to have the ring reset. That’s exactly what I was going to do. I would still be wearing my wedding ring from my late husband but one with a fresh, new look. It would be both honoring of my past and reflective of my bright, promising future. That was it. I asked Alison Teer, editor of the THE SCOUT GUIDE ALEXANDRIA, where she recommended I go and without a moment of hesitation, she said LAWRENCE MILLER & CO., and that Tim Shaheen was my guy. I hated to admit I had walked by LM&CO hundreds of times before but had never once stepped in. With its unpretentious storefront and signage, I always assumed it was just another silver shop in Old Town.
At Alison’s recommendation, I scheduled an appointment with Tim and quickly discovered LM&CO’S services went far beyond their exquisite silversmithing. Being accustomed to men in suits standing behind glass cases filled with velvet lined trays of jewelry, I was instantly intrigued by Tim’s hipster-meets-silversmith look donning a work apron over his plaid shirt and cords in this really beautiful shop filled with these exquisite pieces of handmade silver and custom jewelry. Bottles of bourbon and silver mint julep cups lined the shelves and windowsills.
We went up to Tim’s office to look at my ring and discuss options for resetting it and having never met a stranger, I started chirping away and soon discovered Tim’s Dad had grown up in Mississippi which of course turned into me peppering him with, “Well, what part? Do you ever get back down there? Well, what’s your aunt’s name? Are her daughters such and such? Oh, they’re your first cousins? I have known them since high school!” I had obviously found my place.
Tim and I discussed a couple of design options while he began sketching and taking notes, and he walked me through the design process. I was fully prepared to leave my ring with him but was pleasantly surprised to learn I did not have to as he could use measurements of the stones he had meticulously taken. As promised, a few weeks later Tim e-mailed me with 3D renderings of the proposed design. I am not sure what I was expecting to see, but I was blown away by how realistic the images were.
I loved the design but had some concern about it possibly being “too much” ring for me, so Tim suggested we have the setting cast in wax before proceeding. After wearing the wax setting for a bit, I decided the ring did not pass my “wear it to Safeway” test so back to the drawing board we went.
Around that time, Clete and I started looking at engagement rings. We visited several traditional jewelry stores, and I tried on a little bit of everything. We both determined we liked oval diamonds but never found the perfect setting. We would like components of one ring and something else on another, but once we started talking to the jeweler about it, they would always offer us a catalog of settings to choose from or tell us they thought their goldsmith could probably combine these two designs into a ring but never quite leaving us confident the finished product would be just as we wanted.
I knew exactly who could deliver a custom setting, so we went to meet with Tim. He ordered round after round of loose diamonds for us to view on the weekends, each time within the privacy of his office. It also did not hurt Clete was able to enjoy a little bourbon at each of these appointments. After looking at a variety of stones, we narrowed it down to two.
Tim created 3D renderings of the ring we were envisioning incorporating our desire for the center stone to be set as low as possible in a basket setting for ease of wear, for the diamond band to be thin and in proportion to the stone, and for the transition from the band to the center stone to be fluid. He even generated side-by-side images of the same ring with the two different stones in order for us to be able to make a more informed decision.
After selecting the stone and design, Tim started making my ring, and a couple of weeks later on Mother’s Day, Clete proposed!
As it turns out, I haven’t had my sapphire and diamonds reset. I actually wore my sapphire on my right hand as my “something blue” when Clete and I recently got married. I remember looking down at mine and Clete’s hands later that night, both of us wearing our beautiful new wedding bands also custom made at LM&CO, and then looking over at my sapphire on my right hand thinking they were both simply perfect. With a grateful heart for my full, full life, it was all just right.
Jewelry is such a personal thing. Shouldn’t the collaboration and design process be, too? The next time you are considering have a special piece of jewelry made or reset, please stop by LM&CO, and as always, be sure to tell them SCOUT sent you!
Now that you know the story behind some of my favorite pieces of jewelry, what’s the story behind yours?
In life’s most joyful moments and in the darkest of hours and seemingly impossible circumstances, there is grace. Abundant grace always abounds if you allow yourself to see it. This I know, and these are my lessons in grace.
Read about what came before Sweetness Follows at TeamKennett.com.