I googled, “How to clean your engagement ring”.
It was my first attempt to clean it if you don’t count washing dishes, which apparently, according to my research, dish soap kinda cleans it anyways?
Random strangers still “Oo!” at my ring and I tilt my head confused because I’ve put 0% effort since AJ put it on to keeping it sparkly, and oh. Dang it. Actually, according to more research, doing the dishes makes it less shiny.
And I wash a lot of dishes.
The dishwasher in our apartment still has the tags dangling inside it. Never once turned on. I think it’s probably partly because of pride, partly because I watched my mom wash every dish by hand, and partly because it gives my hands something to do other than hold my phone.
For 20 minutes my ring soaked intentionally in a bowl of fresh, warm, dish soap water. I didn’t have a soft bristle toothbrush, so I rubbed and dried it with a cloth. This time a year ago AJ and I had first found it—when it shimmered much brighter than it does now.
From my A Walk To Remember teen years to over-priced coffee conversations with college girlfriends, I would’ve told you, “I would want my engagement ring to be a complete surprise. I want it to come from his heart because he thought of me.”
I said this while simultaneously pinning engagement rings to a pin board called, The Ring. I heard once that a smart girl should have a Pinterest board full of engagement ring inspiration for your even smarter future fiancé to look at for reference. Then it’s a ring from the heart, but with hints.
I added a lot of different hints, a collection of simple, solitaire rings mixed with vintage treasures, but the one thing I knew I wanted my ring to be was a surprise.
So when AJ told me out of the blue over the phone that he scheduled an appointment on a Friday in January to look at engagement rings, I was torn. But. But… I don’t want to give any hints. Only the hints on my Pinterest board. Clearly labeled with the word, Ring. Haven’t you seen it?
At that stage in dating though, I started to worry if I would like the ring AJ would pick out on his own. We walked past too many window shops, clothing racks, and mannequins with him pausing, pointing, and mentioning preciously that I would look cute in the most ugly shirt.
Yet, despite the fear of hating something I’d have to wear forever, I still wanted him to pick it out.
There were three reasons I felt okay with going to the diamond store:
Peaches. The name of our lady at Diamonds Direct. She talked lazily and smooth, except when she was laughing at us not knowing what to do in a room so sparkly. But this was where they stored the Disney movie sparkles from the princess movies when they weren’t using them! In these bright glass boxes begging for all my attention! I suddenly felt like wearing anything less than a full length dress was unacceptable.
A stout, finely dressed man named Eddy stood behind a black, velvet ring pad above the smooth, glittery glass. He had an accent. A happy loud one that bounced so you listened. He was peppy and born to tell us his rings were all the way from New York, all made individually, uniquely, one by one, by hand. This was his last day here.
His rings winked at me, all confident in their slots. I wanted to like one. I slipped on ones I thought I would. The solitaire. No. Gold? No. A thick one with some western vintage charm? No. AJ pulled some out for me to try. No. Eddy sensed the discouragement. He eyed me up and down—a pause—he winked at me too.
“As you’ve been here, I am getting a sense of your style,” his hands waved my aesthetic perfume in the air, “I normally do when girls come looking for rings—each girl is different and you need a diamond to match,” he pulled out a ring I had two seconds ago skimmed over, “I think this is just perfect for you.”
His thick, leathered fingers pinched and sprouted a tiny, white gold ring. It was a bold oval solitaire diamond, framed by a halo of small, sugar-like diamonds that were patterned imperfectly to give it a vintage, etched border. A plain band gave the diamond all the more drama. I’d never seen anything like it.
“This one’s called the Serena.”
I had the moment every girl hopes she has, the sudden certainty of something being yours all along, with the glide of metal past knuckle, I knew it was the ring. I was shocked I knew. I am picky and impossible and if I saw it on someone else’s hand or on Pinterest, I might’ve never pinned it. Though it perfectly blended everything I had been looking for. Simple, yet special. New, yet vintage. Timeless, yet totally Molly. On my hand, it was mine. I didn’t want to take it off even though it holla-hooped heavy around my finger.
Eddy, my fangirl, gushed and blew kisses with, Ooh! You’re glowing—isn’t she? You might want to look in the mirror. Soak it in. Take a picture. I did.
Nothing compared to that ring. I know because I went through the whole diamond store. Windex-washed case by case. Row by row. Contrasting dozens of Disney princess rings to the one I fidgeted with on my left finger.
When AJ and I were just friends, I knew the type of girl he wanted to marry because he told me. Blonde. Tiny. Fitness influencer. Cowboys Cheerleader. When we dated, I pulled out his Pinterest board whenever we passed someone who matched. I shyly side-eyed him to gauge his interest. Any day I feared he would leave me for the diamond he said he wanted. If I were put side by side with a shiny girl like that, I’d have no chance.
Poor Peaches pulled out tray after tray, kindly complimented rings I didn’t really care about. All to go with the one I started with all along. The other ones look like they are for little girls, AJ leaned close to tell me, but this ring looks like it was made for a queen.
While dating, AJ repeatedly reassured me I was the girl he wanted. That he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t think I was worth it. It was hard to believe in a city of diamonds and pretty easy when you don’t believe you’re a diamond yourself.
“Y’all Sweet Home Alabama-ed us!” The manager laughed with two ring holders in his hands, stacking them like dirty dishes on a cart and wheeling around to each case. We shut the place down.
A Texas boy and a Wisconsin girl stood there late to buy a diamond ring. I’ll never forget the moment we walked out of the store into the dark, letting out the breath I guess I’d been holding, bouncing off the arm of my almost fiancé who sheltered me in the cave of his shoulder as we walked to his truck. He thanked God out loud right there in that parking lot and I couldn’t wait to marry him.
The next day we were road-tripping to A&M. It would be my first time seeing AJ’s college town he calls his home. I was on his gray apartment couch as he packed, rambling to him about the ring.
I repeated how I always wanted my engagement ring to be a surprise, hand-picked by my future husband, but God knew me better than that. If the ring was wrong it would wreck the whole thing—not ‘cause the ring is the most important part—but because it would be hard for me to look past. It would’ve broken my heart to genuinely not be able to like it. It’s a different story than I ever would’ve chosen, but it’s better.
“See?” Silence. AJ stepped out of his bedroom with his lumpy, half-zipped backpack to look me in the eyes.
“That’s exactly how I feel about you.” He said as a statement.
I understood now.
I am his diamond ring.
There is a girl out there that is AJ’s dream girl pin board. With the hair and the hobbies and the Gym Shark leggings to go with the never-been-canceled Gold’s Gym membership.
And it doesn’t matter. I don’t compare to any other diamond out there because I’m the one God picked out for AJ. Homegrown and handcrafted in Wisconsin to be his wife and delivered to him to Texas in an ’04 Toyota Avalon. I am not everything he thought he wanted, but I am everything God picked out for AJ.
On March 21, 2021 AJ got on one knee and I got a ring to forever remind me. I said yes to being AJ’s diamond and now we both have a better one than we could’ve ever dreamed.
After the proposal my life was a dream. The awe of being the one someone chose swallows you and it’s hard to comprehend. My ring would snag on sheets and long-sleeves and I couldn’t stop looking at it and remembering all over again. Never have I taken so many pictures of my hand.
Now there is a diamond in my dishes.
But with awkward clunky pots and cups to aggressively situate and squinty eyes from rinsing out our smelly, watered-down leftovers, I’d be lying if I said I notice my ring much at all anymore. But every once in a while, I catch a Cinderella sparkle in the sink.
The reminder in a ring: God has different, but better.
For AJ, I am one of those better things.
For me, it’s the ring of my dreams to make sure I never forget it.
Good thing there’s always dishes to be done.
“A good woman is hard to find and worth far more than diamonds.” Proverbs 31:10
P.S. Here is the link to Emmanuel Journaling that I have used. Not sure if it’s the same exact one referenced here in this blog though, but still a good place to start!
P.S.S. This song. I was mid-way through writing this when I found this song and it hit me so deeply. I didn’t even realize until after that it perfectly captures how I feel about my engagement ring and thus how God has changed my entire life for the better.