In my pre-divorce life, I was the most romantic person I knew.
Nothing gave me more pleasure than surprising my ex partner with romantic gestures, big, small and sometimes, outlandishly extravagant.
And as such, Valentine’s Day as stupidly commercialised as it is, was my thing.
Not necessarily going out to dinner with all the other doe-eyed lovers but making it a day to remember, cooking romantic meals at home, complete with typed menus and all sorts and of course, the gifts.
Like the picture below in 2014, when my ex came home to a three course meal, roses from the garden and champagne. For dessert, I had baked heart shaped chocolate cakes and heart shaped shortbread biscuits. I had also made strawberries dipped in melted chocolates and served with fresh mint.
Now of course when I think of Valentine’s Day, I remember 2015.
My ex husband had come home from work around 3.30 am on Valentine’s day morning. I had cooed and sympathised with “my poor love” working all night. In the morning, we had exchanged gifts, his, as extravagant as always, including a Louboutin, which I had gushed was so totally me. I declared that it was one of the most thoughtful presents he had ever given me. He had worked that Saturday, and that evening, we had gone out to dinner at Hakkasan Mayfair, which used to be our favourite restaurant – so sacred, he took his mistress there.
I would later find taxi receipts that showed that he had not worked until the early morning that day, but had made the long taxi ride from his mistress’s marital home in Weybridge.
I would also later find receipts that showed that he had bought two of the much complimented Louboutin – one for me, and one for his mistress.
And so, given Ms Romantic here, my ex husband knew that I would love the idea of being proposed to on Valentine’s Day. But he also found the whole day understandably, somewhat tacky.
That year, 2003, I had been expectant. We had been dating for two years. We were loved up and very happy. We had discussed marriage. I thought if he was going to propose, he would do it on that day. I even secretly bought two Valentine’s Day card. One addressed to my boyfriend and the other, to my fiance.
That Valentine’s day passed without a whisper of a proposal and I had lost hope but it had been a wonderful day nevertheless.
At one minute to midnight on Valentine’s day, after a wonderful, romantic evening where we had stuffed our faces with a 4 course meal, my ex wanted me to open a heart shaped Godiva chocolate. I was stuffed. I said no. He insisted. I finally opened this box of chocolate and inside was the most exquisite, beautiful ring.
It was one of the few occasions I was truly speechless.
Over the years, the engagement story regaled the tale of my ex husband proposing just before midnight, to give me the romantic Valentine’s Day proposal he knew I wanted but still far removed from the tackiness and cliche of a Valentine’s Day proposal, to satisfy him.
I wore and loved that sparkly ring with so much pleasure for 12 years, until last year happened when I cast it away, together with my wedding ring, into a box with all sorts of cheap jewellery.
So…what does one do with an engagement ring that represented all that love, romance, hope and optimism for the future, when things go so terribly wrong?
I felt that I had four options:
- Wear the ring in a different hand;
- Pay a jeweller to convert it to a necklace;
- Keep it and gift it to one of my nieces; or
- Sell it.
I chose Option 4.
My ex had paid £3,250 in 2003 for this ring from Ernest Jones, plus another £100 for insurance, and I therefore expected that the diamond would have appreciated in 13 years. I had high hopes of getting some pennies for this much loved, beautiful, sparkly ring.
I couldn’t find the certificate but I was certain given the price paid and the beauty of the ring, that it was good quality, after all the ring was from Ernest Jones.
I fantasied that it was colour IF and clarity D, after all my ex liked good quality things and would have done his research about the 4Cs of diamond buying. Google gave me fantastic values for a 1.02 carat, round brilliant cut diamond with colour IF and clarity D.
My bubble that selling this ring might pay my mortgage for a few months was well and truly bursted when I finally found the certificate at the weekend.
I was stunned.
It was a poor quality diamond. 1.02 carat diamond set on yellow and white 18 carat gold. Colour J, Clarity P1. Several online websites gave me the abysmal amount to expect for the diamond.
Surely everyone knows about the 4Cs of diamonds? How did my ex pay such a ridiculous price for such poor diamond?
Shame on you Ernst Jones.
On Monday, I continued my research by calling several diamond buyers in Hatton Gardens – the diamond capital of the UK. One told me that the most I would expect to sell, would be £800. Others told me that they would not buy because no one wants such poor quality diamond.
Another charming man, spent a long time on the phone advising me and suggested that I should not bring along the certificate if I came to see him or anyone else because with the card, no one would want to buy the diamond and if they did, the most I would get would be £650 to £800.
And so, yesterday, following my first mammogram near Harley Street, I set off to Hatton Gardens to try and sell my diamond engagement ring and wedding ring.
I also had a potential reputable buyer who after seeing photographs had declared she was “highly interested.”
The so called buyer offered me £200 for the engagement ring my ex paid £3,250 in 2003.
After the offer of £200, I went to several other shops in Hatton Gardens trying to flog the engagement and wedding rings. Quite a few buyers refused to buy because of the poor diamond quality.
One buyer finally offered me £625 for both rings. I decided to keep trying other shops.
One Asian man saw me, started asking me personal questions, including why I was selling. I told him that I was newly divorced. He said he respected me and the fact that I was a determined lady making the best of difficult circumstances. He was philosophical about life, saying that we die with nothing and have to help each other whenever we can.
He said that he felt drawn to me when he saw me and that something in him told him to help me out because everything in life isn’t about money.
He stated that he would offer me the price he would sell my diamond for and not the buying price.
I confess that I was cynical. I thought he might have perfected the gift of sweet talk. I knew the full potential price of the diamond ring. The only offers I had received were for £200 and £625. What could this man offer?
For whatever reason best known to this wonderfully kind man, he offered to buy my engagement and wedding ring for £1,400; more than double the best price that I had received on the day.
Me of little faith.
I am grateful to this stranger and I pray that he is rewarded a millionfold for his kindness and generosity especially as he had admitted that business had been slow in the last few months post Brexit.
“Diamond is not food. People don’t need diamond to eat. The economy is bad. No one is buying diamond.”
Yesterday, I also sold some scrap gold to the same man for £500. Once again, he had given me a much better price than what I was offered by every single other shop I had visited, including my so called buyer who had offered £235.
The scrap gold consisted of a broken gold necklace, 2 broken gold bracelets, one single gold earring (I couldn’t find its pair) and 1 pair of gold earrings I hadn’t worn in years which my ex’s mum had given me just before our wedding in 2004. I didn’t like the earrings and had only worn them once or twice. When I found them at the weekend, one was broken.
I also had other glittering, sparkly “gold” jewellery that were revealed by the jeweller’s tests not to be real gold.
All that glitters is not gold.
Coming back home with £1,900 consisting of £1,300 cash and £600 cheque, I was very tired, cold, (I had been going up and down Hatton Garden in the cold and light rain), very emotional and wondering who this person was, who had gathered and sold unwanted broken gold jewellery, having researched the price of scrap gold, and who had researched the price of diamond, and had bettered her realistic estimates for both diamond and gold.
I am so proud of my little self.
And so today, I went to the bank to deposit £1,900 from jewellery that had been languishing in various boxes.
I am grateful to this divorce for opening my eyes to so many new things.