Lost and Found: a ring is worth a thousand words.

Sometime in 2004, might have been 2003, I went for the weekend and my house was broken into. 

All my jewelry was stolen.  Not like I am a high roller, with lots of bling..I'm an artist.  My jewelry collection was like a record of my life-every piece had a story, artisan produced, one of a kinds- some I had commissioned, personal gifts, the watch I got when I recieved my masters, the one engagement ring I had received-high memory content than market value.  I was devastated, but life goes on.

Fast forward to 2008.  Like many,  I was feeling the economic down turn-like I said, I'm an artist, living in a small beach town.  Making art  is my only income source. I was scrambling for art jobs, no gig was too small. You could say I was down on my luck.  For example, I was glazing custom tiles for patrons who, when they contributed money to a local Arts organization, could dictate the decoration and wording on their commemorative tile. I making maybe 10$/hour, max.  Any way, one of these donors, someone I had never met in my life, called me, launching into an elaborate description of what she wanted on her tile. I told her I prefered to actually meet the people I was doing custom work for, and invited her to my studio, and she complied.

The Patron and her friend showed up at my studio- totally nice, culture supporting, enthusiatic ladies.  We realized whe knew people in the local art scene.  It's a small town.  She was going on about doing this tile in honor of her sister, and New York imagery, and her inspirational motto, and gesturing in an animated way...and I am staring at her hands and there on her finger is one of my rings. One of the stolen rings.  And not just some generic mass produced ring.  It was a Peace sign ring, cast in thick, solid 14 cr. gold, that I had custom designed and made, for me, by a jewler in San Francisco.  The mold was cast from a silver peace sign ring (also stolen) that I gave the jeweler for a model.  Obviously, I had gotten this ring made during one of my "flush" periods, and I knew exactly when and why. 

Well, when she stopped talking, I said something like, " Cool, that sounds great. This is off subject, I know, but I can't help noticing your peace sign ring. Can I ask you where you got that?"  The Patron smiled.  She was obviously pleased and proud of her ring.  Her friend piped up " Oh, a friend of mine was selling it, and I knew that  (her pal, the patron), LOVED peace signs, so I told her about it and she bought it!!"   I said, "I know this sounds strange, but, I had all my jewelry stolen some years back, and I believe that that's my ring."

You can imagine the shock on their faces. There was a long, uneasy pause. I mean, my comment was a complete buzz kill, but, I  felt I had to say SOMETHING.  I wasn't expecting anything from her.   She offered to let me see it up close, to try it on, even.  I did, saying something like, I didn't have to though, I knew it the same ring-and actually I was shocked and actually a little happy to see it again, that it hadn't been melted down, and that it was being appreciated. There wasn't much left to say. We talked about the project for a bit longer, and then, when I was showing them to the door, I had to say-"You know, I just have to tell you this-when I managed to quit using drugs for a whole year, I bought my self a silver peace sign ring, because all I had wanted was a little peace in my life.  When I managed to stay off drugs for 10 years, in 1996, I took that same silver ring to a jeweler and had them cast me an identical one in gold.  That's the story of the ring.  The patron and her friend just looked at me, and they were on their way."

I was feeling pretty shook, and emmotional.  But, whatever. I started working on her Donor tile.

That night I dug out a photograph that sure enough clearly showed the ring on my hand. I emailed it to the patron, now my client.  I knew that the story was outlandish, and felt that the photo legitimized my story.  I told the story to a couple of friends.  I was amazed that the consensus reaction was to  1.find out who she got it from,  and  2.an  assumption  that she would have handed the ring over then and there.  Neither of these thoughts had crossed her mind.  My ring belonged to someone else, that's all I thought.

Prior to the studio meeting, I had never seen the Patron before.  THE NEXT DAY, my friend and I ran into her as she was going in and we were leaving a movie theater.  She waved and said "Great things are happening!".  My friend was like "Who was that???", and I still shocked, explained the connection.

Time passed.  I created an incredible tile for the Patron.  She loved it, her sister loved it,  I got my $50 bucks.  One day, the Patron called to see if I was planning to attend a local Public Art reception, (yet another Cultural undertaking that she had contributed to.)   I had been planning to make it, and after the formal speeches and aknowlegements, we, the Patron and I found each other in the crowd.  She handed me a little box, and in it, was my Peace sign ring.  On her hand, she wore an identical ring, that she had had cast from my ring.  

We pretty much wear our rings all the time. This is the story I like to tell people when they are bemoaning a loss..just because " the loss" is not ALWAYS the end of the story.  And I often add that, on that day, when the ring came back, my luck started to turn.



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