Finding The Right Piece to Wear

July 19, 2010

Sarah King Ring 1790I don’t really wear anything that I buy, which sometimes gets me down. You’d think that for someone who spends most of their money and passion on old jewellery (something meant to be worn), that I’d get more pleasure out of it than just photographing it and talking about it. It may surprise you to know that the need builds up and I just have to look elsewhere for my jewellery fix, I look down on the fingers that are writing this post and wonder what they would look like with something other than black enamel or hair on them.

One of my conceits is that I’ll wear anything that isn’t dedicated to someone else already, or if it’s in poor condition, I’ll have it repaired and made perfect for me.

So, how does this process begin? How do I go back and find the right piece to wear? Well, being mourning and sentimentally orientated, I’ll look towards the unsigned or damaged pieces. I’ll think of the finger that the piece would be worn on and wonder if it would suit. I don’t particularly like wearing enamel on my outer fingers, due to potential damage, so that limits enamel quite a bit. Then I start to wonder about cameos and intaglios, this is usually my springboard into the non-mourning side of things. Then there comes the issue of cameos being hardstone or shell – shell will break far to easily, and any cameo will face some sort of damage in daily, modern use. How about intaglios? These are often a comfort zone for me, but I find deciding on one that suits to be rather difficult.

Size matters, I don’t care what they say. How a person in modern times can decide upon a large, antique ring to wear on a daily basis, when we have to contend with so much hands-on work (from driving a car to using a computer) is hard to fathom. So, the bigger the ring, the harder it is to wear. I’ve tried to wear a large signet ring on my index finger (with some success), but the minute you forget you’re wearing the piece, you start to get a little lazy and fall into the old habit of using your hands to gesticulate, turn on taps and do things which will generally cause a large piece of metal to slide off your finger or scratch. I’ve often found opening a door with a bunch of keys to be tricky when you care about scratches.

But I’m also picky about age and I do like them old. Victorian (or 19th century), is more than perfect for me, so the minute post-1901 rolls around, my interest waxes and wanes. So, can you respect yourself if you wear a ring that’s been around for 100+ years and you damage it into non-existence, or are you the sort of person who says that ‘it was made to be worn’?

So, how do you find the piece that suits you best? Do you think of it by metal, stone, type or age? Do you even have any more usable fingers left in your daily life for more jewellery (I often draw the line at two, myself)? Speak loud and speak proud in the comments!

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