Our Love Story
:: page 34 ::

Shopping for the perfect ring
Not surprisingly, while she was staying in San Antonio over the last several nights of 2005, we spent quite a bit of time visiting several jewelry stores, looking for that perfect engagement ring.

Here in San Antonio, one jewelry store in particular dominates the market with endless infomercials late at night. Since advertising works, they were the first store which came to mind on our list of stores to check out.

Being a guy, I knew nothing -- I mean nothing -- about diamonds.

My learning curve was steep indeed. Degrees of colorlessness and clarity were brand new concepts to me. In my naiveté, I had falsely assumed that diamonds were diamonds, that somehow they were all the same. I thought the only difference was their size. I soon discovered that saying all diamonds were the same would be like saying all cars were the same -- an amateur's mistake.

Amy had two distinct advantages over me.

First, she was a girl. I'm convinced from the moment that girls are handed to their mothers after the delivery, they've dreamt about their future marriage to Mr. Right. Secondly, she had been engaged once before. That was a biggie. She had already been down this road. By contrast, it was all totally new and different to me. I was uninitiated -- unaccustomed to the strange rituals of this important life milestone.

So we walked into the gigantic showroom of Americus Diamond off I-10 near DeZavala Road. For women, this place is like Disney World on crack. For guys, we'd rather watch paint dry.

Don't get me wrong. As you've probably discovered by now, on a scale of 1 to 10 -- 10 being the most romantic guy on the face of the earth -- I'm probably a 7 or an 8. So, I certainly wanted to select a sparkly ring that captured the brilliance of the sparks between us, and one that would, over time, remind both of us of my undying love for her.

Having said that, I don't think anything could have prepared me for the shock and awe that was to come.

As we walked past row after row after row of brightly-lit showcases, filled to the brim with dazzling jewelry of every size and shape, I was honestly concerned that this one store in San Antonio, Texas had somehow managed to single-handedly buy every last diamond from every last diamond mine. If Liberace were still alive today, he'd probably think he'd just stepped into the halls of heaven.

The ceiling in this place, without exaggeration, must have been 70 feet high. The floor was real marble. I could envision the Rockefeller Christmas Tree from New York City fitting in this store with ease and with room to spare. Every 15 feet, we'd walk by another beautifully displayed vase filled with a dozen fragrant red roses. I heard one of their competitors refer to this place as the "mausoleum."

Couples, many of them on the brink of engagement like us, were swarming the diamond cases like moths to a flame.

I felt like pulling out a megaphone and announcing loudly -- complete with resounding echoes off the marble floors and tall ceiling -- "Attention People In Love: Turn back now while you still can. Do not fall victim to the allure of the diamonds. If you stare too long into the sparklies, you'll lose all sense of proper financial perspective. Thank you and good night."

Is it just me? Come on now. I know you've imagined yourself making announcements with bullhorns to absolute strangers. Alright, maybe not. Just forget the whole thing.

I was looking for one of those deli counter pull-a-number-and-wait systems.

"Number 52. Serving Number 52. Please step up to the diamond counter at this time. Last call for Number 52."

But, to my disappointment, there was no number system, although it certainly felt apropos. I had to settle for some guy named Larry who asked if he could help us. Amy looked like she was already in some kind of groove, pulling up a stool to look at price ranges based on colorlessness and clarity.

Colorlessness and clarity. Two words that I never imagined would have such a profound impact on my life -- and my wallet.

Continued >> Shopping for the perfect ring (cont.)

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