Well, bugger all. I have lost my grandmother's engagement diamond. When I graduated from high school an alarming 11 years ago, she came to the ceremony with my parents and handed me a gift bag afterward, asking me to open it later when we were all at lunch. I ran around embracing people, carelessly swinging the bag from my wrist. Mom stayed a pace behind me, grimly guarding the bag, and finally took it back from me - "You're making me too nervous," she said. When I finally opened it I saw why: They'd gotten Gran's engagement diamond reset into a new ring, flanked by sapphires (my birthstone), with a classically pretty sort of curlicue design in gold. It sounded like Mom and Gran had had a ball shopping together for settings, and Gran seemed pleased to be handing it on. "Never take it off," she said, "or you'll lose it. I always lose jewelry by just setting it down somewhere."
I remember looking at it with sort of a sinking heart; my favorite items of jewelry were woven beaded necklaces and a plastic-encased butterfly wing pendant from a nature store. This diamond solitaire was not really my thing. But I wore it every day from then on. I took it off for two trips to Europe (for the first trip it went in a safety-deposit box; the second trip I was a bachelorette living alone, and I put it in the crisper drawer of the fridge before leaving) and to swim in the ocean, and that was it. Gradually I started to feel I was growing into it. Mom's graduation gift was an antique guardian-angel pendant, and after a few semesters of college - where everyone wore beaded necklaces - my only jewelry was the pendant, the ring and silver hoops in my ears. (We will not speak of the navel-ring interlude.) It was my way of wearing three generations, the four hoops in my ears being completely my own. When Gran died two years ago, I looked at her ring a lot. I had almost stopped noticing it, and after her death it took on extra importance. She left us a little money, and Mom gave me a couple of her old calling cards she found cleaning out the house, but the main thing I had from her was the diamond. After giving it to me, she'd told me, laughing, that my grandfather actually waited to give it to her until after they were married. He'd been afraid she'd take the diamond and run off, she said. So the Valentine's Day after their wedding, he gave her a box of chocolates and a diamond ring, which she figured was costume jewelry and tossed into the trash. "He was so mad! He said 'Get that back out!'" she said. It did still look like an engagement ring, even with the new setting; I sometimes switched hands if I was going out alone and wanted to avoid being bothered. And I wondered, in the back of my mind, if I'd want any future fiances to get me a matching one. Having a diamond engagement ring has never seemed important, but then there'd always be this other one on my other hand, silently telling the diamondless ring "I'm fancier than you."
Anyway, tonight at work I glanced down at my hand and the diamond was gone. It would've looked interesting on Candid Camera. I had a moment of pretending it wasn't gone - the denial phase - and then started carefully patting my shirt and looking in my lap and on my desk, and a few moments later I was down on the floor. This attracted attention, and then several of us were on the floor. My boss was very nice about it and let me go wandering off to retrace my steps from earlier in the evening. You don't realize how many shiny, small things are on the ground until you're looking for a specific one. Nail heads, bits of mica and broken plastic, even isolated old bits of confetti. Nobody found it. The last time I remember looking at it and noticing it was before taking a long walk up the beach this afternoon. So it could be at work; it could be in my car; it could be in the apartment here; it could be on the beach. It's not big. I think it's gone.
The most annoying thing would be if it were in the ocean somewhere, or down in a pipe (the sink here, or the tub, or the sink at work), where nobody will ever find it. Because how cool would it be to just find a diamond on the street? I wouldn't mind if that happened to somebody. I loathe the idea of it just getting covered with crud and disappearing forever.
But then I think of all the people in this city. All the things they lose... today on the beach someone had dropped a T-shirt in the surf, and it kept washing up around people's ankles. Every stray corner near that beach is crammed with someone's stuff: there are lots of homeless, and lots of their stashes. The city's full of the trash people drop - T-shirts, bottles, wrappers, cans, broken glass. Why not diamonds? How many others are out there, glinting faintly in the grime? Not all detritus has to be ugly.
This notion cannot be great comfort to the spirit of my grandmother, nor to that of my notoriously cheap grandfather, who died the year I was born. I fully expect them both to rise and kick my ass for this. Oh well. At least I got to grow up with her.