Behind The Ring

Behind The Ring

For those of you who know Joe, you know he is a very resourceful person. So it should come as no surprise to learn that he dug the gems for my engagement ring out of the ground. He had always wanted to make the ring his proposed with from scratch. Yes, SCRATCH. He wanted to forage for all the materials down to the silver but after realizing this was a lofty goal, he settled for the gemstones. So how did he do it?

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Photography by Cottonwood Road Photography

First, let’s go over the basics. Did you know gemstones are actually minerals but not all minerals are gemstones? Minerals have to be super pretty to be considered gems and those gems are then polished and cut into jewelry-quality stones (Example: Quartz is pretty much worthless but under the right conditions, it’s also amethyst). The minerals lucky enough to call themselves ‘gems’ are classified into two categories based on their rarity:

Precious: diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire.

Semi-precious: Amber, calcite, jade, amethyst, topaz, etc.

This designation can change at a moment’s notice. Amethyst used to be considered one of the cool kids but got demoted as more and more deposits were found. Overall, the value of a gemstone is rated using the “Four C’s”: cut, clarity, color, and carat. The reddest, largest, clearest ruby is considered the best. Pretty simple.  There are a lot of minerals in the United States and there are actually a lot of places that will you allow you to hunt for your own. So Joe had a few options. Luckily for him, Texas is known for its blue topaz and for good reason. Blue topaz occurs naturally in only two places on earth: Brazil and Mason County, Texas, making it pretty rare.

FUN FACT: Did you know that diamonds are not actually rare? The only reason why you see them in the precious gem category is because of a diamond monopoly and really good advertising.

 

Joe took two trips over a 6 month period to pan for topaz in the creeks of Mason County. On the first trip, he didn’t find anything. But on trip #2, he found the three stones used in my ring. In their natural state, gems are considered “raw” and need to be cut (the Four C’s!) and polished. So just because you find a decent sized gem doesn’t mean that’s the size it’s going to be in the ring. Thankfully the stones he found did the trick and he walked away with a 3 carat white topaz and two 1 carat blue topaz.

 

He took the gems to his friend’s jewelry studio, Gevandov, and he was able to match Joe up with someone who would cut the topaz for him. Joe chose the arrangement and viola. All he had to do was pop the question. Now, I was fully aware that Joe wanted to make the ring himself. So needless to say, I was a bit nervous as to what the ring was going to look like. Joe knew the types of settings I liked and had asked me general questions on colors and styles. The rest was blind trust that Joe knew what he was doing. On September 18, 2014, he dropped the knee and popped the question. I grabbed the ring out of his hand before he could finish the proposal.

was absolutely floored by how good he did. It’s an absolutely gorgeous ring and so

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Photo by Ron Accord Photography

much work and thought went into it. One of my favorite things about it is the fact its not perfect. If you look closely, there is an “impurity” in the main stone. Looks like a splinter. What a perfect reminder that marriage doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

If you are interested in hunting for topaz (or any rocks or minerals), Joe and I would love to be your guides. Let us know!

 

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I’m More Excited For My Marriage Than My Wedding

I’m More Excited For My Marriage Than My Wedding

I have been engaged for a little over two months now and wedding planning has been in full swing. With less than 4 months to go before the ‘big day’, there are still quite a few details to hash-out. Now that I’m on the planning side of things, I’ve noticed something: The modern wedding has taken the focus completely off the marriage. Instead of focusing on celebrating the union of two people who love each other, the merging of two families, and the starting of a new one, the modern wedding celebrates the quality of your centerpieces, the creativity of your wedding favors, and the price tag of your wedding dress. Have we forgotten what we’re celebrating?

After signing up for The Knot (a wedding website that helps with planning, ideas, forums, etc.), my inbox suddenly started getting a lot more e-mails: “50 Wedding Photos you NEED at your wedding”, “Look 10 Pounds Thinner”, “How to make your first dance perfect!”. The wedding industry thrives off comparison, encouraging you in whatever way they can to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. The wedding you’ve wanted since you were two is no longer good enough, big enough, or glamorous enough. There are rules to be followed in regards to programming, timing of events, and the color of the mother-in-law’s dress. Expectations are so high, no wonder women turn into Bridezillas. They are consumed with wanting a movie-worthy celebration. Women strive to compete in a make-believe contest for “Best Wedding” until they drive themselves crazy.

“In 1959, Bride’s magazine recommended that couples set aside two months to prepare for their wedding and published a checklist with 22 tasks for them to complete. By the 1990s, the magazine recommended 12 months of wedding preparation and published a checklist with 44 tasks to complete.”

“What The Cost Of Your Engagement Ring May Say About Your Marriage”Huffington Post

Back in the day, weddings were not an elaborate affair. They consisted of small family gatherings at the home of the bride or groom’s parents.  The dress wasn’t shopped for or even white, it was simply the best dress the bride owned. It wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that weddings started to get fancy. The upper class started to throw parties similar to weddings we see today. In the 1900’s, brides began ordering a dress specifically for their wedding day. Wedding registries, as we know them, didn’t exist until the 1920’s. Before that, the only wedding gifts were in the bride’s dowry: a collection of items her parents presented to the groom along with their daughter. This turned into guests giving essential items to the newlywed couple so they could start their life together with life’s basic needs met. Today, not only are guests expected to give a gift, they are expected to bring another gift to any and every shower they attend for the couple. The engagement ring has changed a lot as well. Though most of us have never lived in a world where diamonds weren’t “forever”, the classic diamond engagement ring didn’t exist until 1947. It was part of a marketing campaign by DeBeers, a diamond cartel, trying desperately to fight the collapse of diamond prices due to the Depression. They created a campaign that dramatically changed the wedding industry and consequently, the diamond is the primary stone used for engagement rings.

“In 2012, total expenditures on diamond rings were roughly $7 billion in the United States alone.”

“What The Cost Of Your Engagement Ring May Say About Your Marriage” – Huffington Post

It has always cost money to throw a party and in the 20’s and 30’s, the average wedding cost $5,000 (adjusted for inflation). According to The Knot, the average cost for a wedding in 2013 was $29,858.  That is almost a 500% increase. Couples now spend more than the U.S. median income on their nuptials. What was once a religious covenant has become an example of extreme consumerism and the ultimate form of self-expression.

Weddings were once a simpler ceremony. An intimate celebration between families to celebrate the unity of their children. For religious peoples, a wedding celebrates the union of a couple as they become one before God. A covenant. A promise of fidelity and love for a lifetime. Have we lost sight of this? What if we were more excited about our marriage than our wedding? What if we put more effort in our relationship with our fiance’ than the design of the cake or the color of the flowers? I firmly believe that if we put more emphasis on the marriage than the party, marriages would look a lot different than they do today. Now, is it intrinsically wrong to spend a lot of money on your wedding? Not necessarily. However, I would argue that one’s heart can be in the wrong place. I’ve had to stop myself a few times in the midst of wedding planning from falling into the comparison trap, comparing my wedding ideas to those of my peers and to those in magazines. There is nothing wrong with wanting your “Happily Ever After” wedding. But when we lose sight of the purpose of the wedding and the meaning of marriage, we lose sight of everything.

“[The wedding is] just the beginning of your life together, not the climax.” – Dr. Steve Orma

That’s why so many men and women become depressed after their wedding day. Post-wedding depression is an actual diagnosis. Once you’ve walked down the aisle, the cake’s been eaten, and the attention has gone, reality sets in. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Your marriage just started. You’ve just embarked on the hardest and most rewarding journey of your life and it’s not always a party. And that’s ok.

I pray my wedding day isn’t the happiest day of my life. I hope it’s the next day, and the next, and the next. I hope for a lifetime of happy days amid tough times. I pray that we use our wedding day to glorify God, to love on those who have supported us and will continue to do so, to eat good food,  to have good conversations, and to dance until our feet fall off. I pray we wake up the next morning, with our hearts even more determined to love each other the way God loves us (1 John 4:19). At the end of the day the flowers will fade, the food will be thrown out, and the dress will sit in your closet, but the covenant made will last a lifetime.

All The Single Ladies!

All The Single Ladies!

I think the worst part about being single is the pity looks you get from the committed or married population of the world. Like there is something wrong with you. Because, obviously, that is the only reason why you don’t have a date this weekend or a boyfriend or a husband. And that, my dear single friends, is just SILLY. But as silly as it sounds, I’ve been hearing this a lot from my single friends. Things like “Is there something wrong with me?”, “Why don’t guys like me?”, or “What am I doing wrong?”. As I watch my single friends struggle in singleness with me, my heart goes out to them. The self-deprecating tapes they play in their heads are vicious and cut deep to the soul. Who said you aren’t good enough? Who said you had to earn love? Who said you are anything less than spectacular? Whoever did, they’re wrong and I will punch them in the face. You’ve been lied to and I’m here to set the record straight. You have nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. You are a diamond in the rough (or maybe a diamond in plain sight). And I’m telling you something right now: he will be worth your wait. Because let’s be honest, the best things in life are the ones you wait for. Just because no one is asking you out doesn’t mean that you’ll never be asked. It also doesn’t mean that people don’t think you are awesome, beautiful, and valuable. All it means is that God has a better plan for you than you could ever imagine and He is saving you from unnecessary heartache and wasted time. So hang in there. I’ll keep you company in the Singles Club until God calls you or me out of it. In the meantine, set yours eyes on the other relationships in your life. Community is so important for your spiritual and emotional growth. When the dates finally come, your friends will be the ones helping you process them in a godly way. And most importantly, cling to God. He is the only thing that will bring you fulfillment and eternal happiness. With a husband, it’s “’til death do you part” but Christ has beaten death and will never leave you.  Find delight in HIM (Psalm 37:4) and don’t define your worth by the world’s idea of dating. Set your eyes on Christ for He is directing your path (Proverbs 3:5-6).  So yes, it sucks being reminded everyday of yet another engagement via Facebook and seeing a plethora of your friends’ wedding dress preferences and cake recipes on Pinterest. But your time will come. God has perfect timing.