Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In which I explain the Abortion Ring

I feel like it's time for something totally random and non-stressy. Also, this will give you some better idea where I come from.If you don't know, I grew up in countries like India and Bangladesh, where we lived in a huge house with a walled-in yard and had a whole retinue of servants - without being what we in the US would consider wealthy.

And these are places where labor is cheap, craftsmanship amazing, and things like daily life and gemstones do not, relatively speaking, cost a whole lot.

Betty and her friends had many social events, time to shop, and their favorite merchants. With jewelers, of course, being high on the list of favorites. And so, much like we might see a fun bauble we like at Target, she'd buy a Tuesday ring.

Just because. La la la.

Yes, I sometimes long for this.

And so over the years, Betty managed to acquire some fantastic, and fabulously interesting, jewelry. Some of which she has passed on to me.

Also, it is worth mentioning that she maybe names everything. Which is probably where I get it from.

So somewhere in the world - India, I think, or maybe Nepal - she acquired the Abortion Ring. The middle is one ginormous, oddly shaped pearl, surrounded by turquoise petals. And when she saw it, she decided that that misshapen pearl was in her mind what an aborted fetus might look like.
Yes. No?

The overall effect is pretty, but upon closer inspection, the pearl really is kind of creepy.

Plus, the first picture gives you some idea of the hugeness of it. There's nothing subtle about this ring.

So between countries one year, my mom put a lot of her jewelry in a safe deposit box in Virginia. At some point they got a letter saying the bank had changed hands, but they should feel assured that everything had been transferred safely and securely.

Upon return to the US, they went to the bank to check in on their belongings. It was explained to them that they'd taken my mother's handwritten (and, I might add, meticulous) records, checked them against the contents of the box, and typed them up. They were handed the box, with the records.

And there they were, all those special treasures, all with their particular labels: Tuesday ring, Hyderabad pearls, bag of jade, fire opal with ugly setting, tiny Buddha...and so on. Down to Abortion Ring.

Can you imagine typing up this list?

I've since inherited it. It's one of my favorite pieces of jewelry, and I always get compliments on it.

Although I have learned that responding with, "Oh thank you! It's the Abortion Ring!" is much like announcing that your blog title is your porn name at an elegant, conservative club.

The remembering of which has not yet become second nature to me.


  1. I love that it is big and clunky, but that is kinda how I do with my jewelry.

  2. Remember Lava Lamps? When they were first heating up and were all stringy and bubbly? That's what I imagined an abortion looking like.

  3. See, I think this is just a super-effective litmus test.

    Because wouldn't you rather be friends with the person who maybe blinks for a second, and says, "Really? What's the story behind that?", or perhaps eve, "Oh, I totally get it!" than the person who is politely horrified?

    Although, I suppose there's something to be said for having easily horrified people around... you know, for entertainment purposes.

  4. i was thinking abortion because it looks like that might be a clam's abortion... it never had the chance to turn into a big ole beautiful pearl

    and naming everything is essential... it makes life easier and often things need less explanation... in this case, sometimes more

  5. yes, i know pearls come from oysters... i was having a moment... so scratch that "clam" above and replace with "oyster" and you're all set

  6. I love this.

    That is all.

  7. Lemmonex - I love that, too. I love wearing the biggest pieces I can manage.

    JoLee - I've never given it any thought beyond this pearl, but I could totally see the lava lamp, now that you say that.

    Dagny - You are so right! It is a fantastic litmus test. None of my friends have been horrified or thought I was a freak. Or at least, not more of a freak than they are.

    And the easily horrified definitely make for good entertainment.

    notsojenny - I read your first comment and was like, yah, I could see that. And totally pictured a giant clam. But you are right, they're oysters.

    And yes, naming is essential!

    Hillary - That is a great all. Thank you!

  8. That's one honking big ring. Betty had a knack for naming.

  9. i thought it was called the abortion ring because you could probably perform an abortion with that thing somehow.
    it is super creepy, look at that pearl. ewww. but cooooool.

  10. HA HA HA! i would have LOVED to have been the person typing up the list in the bank, as that is the kind of moment i live for. except it would have driven me crazy not knowing the backstory . . .

    sort of like my latest obsession trying to figure out the smoking lamb cake on cakewrecks. Any ideas?

  11. I've always thought safety deposit boxes were fascinating. What do people keep in there! Abortion rings, yes?!

    The ring is gorgeous, the bright color and creamy pearl.

  12. Very nice ring, very cool name. You have to remind me to one day tell you the story of my mother's opal ring. Not quite as funny, but interesting nonetheless.

  13. The beginning of this post mixed up in my head TOTALLY crazy- the New Yorker did a story about a woman in India who'd had a fetus in her for 50 years- called a stone fetus, happens when the fetus grows outside of the womb (!) dies (without medical intervention) and then calcifies (stone!).
    So India, Stone, Aborted fetus- all made me look REALLY hard at that first picture!

  14. lacochran - It's really heavy to wear. And Betty, she is creative.

    sour - Yikes. I didn't think about that. No, just the pearl. Creepy and cool.

    LJ - I looked long and hard at those cakes, and I seriously have no idea. Weird.

    And I do wonder about the person who typed up the list. If they were all, wtf?? or just a drone, typing away.

    HKW - I never thougth about it! Lord knows what all is in those things.

    And I love this ring, I really do.

    FoggyDew - I would love to hear it. I love jewelry/furniture/stuff with stories behind them.

    Mary! - I must find this story! That's one of the most bizarre things I've ever heard! Fascinating.

  15. For people who've never lived it, it's hard to imagine how cheap labor changes a society. I can describe things, and people will understand it, but until they've lived it, they can't really understand how pervasive the changes it brings are.

  16. Nice. My first job, I think I had the Abortion Memo. Sent up the damn Amicus brief and it came back with red ink all over the damn thing. It is what it is. Or, as Dennis Greene would say, it is what we thought it was (from his "they are who we thought they were" speech). I grew up in a like country. I miss the days of throwing baseball to my gardener and house-guard; both of whom would throw it back cricket style. I remember having to wash all the fresh fruit from the market and boiling drinking water. Gotta love high-high style living.

  17. We have the nipple clamp earrings. When my mother got sick, she went through her jewelery with my brother and I. We laughed a lot! We came upon these very large bubbly plastic long bead earrings that were clips on. She said "do either of you want these" and my brother grabbed them and put the clip-on his nipples and said that they would look graet. hence the nipple clamp earrings.....

  18. VVK - You are right - it's pretty much impossible to imagine if you haven't lived it.

    Anonymous - I know. It sucks to soak fruits and veggies in clorox water and boil your water, but the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences. Especially when the servants are doing all of that for you anyway.

    Soph - I love stories like this. I really do.

  19. The ring is it's own entourage ....
    I bet the list typer up person was giggling.
    The ring name is definately a litmus test moment and if I hadn't read your blog I would be needing more info about it.

    My litmus test ... A sweet looking bavarian cuckoo clock with all the twiddly carved bits, that I convinced my sister said f**k you instead of cuckoo - all cuckoo clocks are now affectionately known as f**k you clocks and yes I forget often that not everyone is on joke.


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