As we get older, the birthdays tend to blur. But there’s one birthday – I must’ve been 8 – that I will never forget.
There was a party at my grandmother’s house with lots of relatives and a Georgette favorite, spaghetti and meatballs.
“I wouldn’t bite into that meatball without looking at it first,” Aunt Mary cautioned.
And sure enough, sitting right in it, as if on a cushion of satin, was a gold ring with a ruby, my birthstone.
I couldn’t have been more shocked and delighted, but what I remember most were my relatives, many of them gone now, and how tickled they were for me and my surprise.
I still have that ring – and several other rubies to keep it company. To me, they are reminders that gems, the subject of our December issue, have many different kinds of value.
There is, of course, their actual monetary value, which has a lot to do with supply and demand, as you’ll see in our piece on rubies. (How could I resist?) But rubies only begin to hint at the treasures in these pages. There are marvelously organic jewels by the elusive, exclusive JAR, the subject of a new show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; big statement pieces by Oscar de la Renta and Alex Soldier, two WAG faves; the mythic mystery of jade via Audrey Ronning Topping; fab alternatives to jewelry for guy gifts, courtesy of Andrea Kennedy; and fantastic baubles in our gift guide like Tiffany & Co.’s mistletoe brooch, sure to guarantee that you’ll be stylish and kissable throughout the holiday season.
Then there are the jeweled colors of Baccarat in Mary Shustack’s story and of Visions in Glass in Jane K. Dove’s piece, as well as the sparkle of sconces and chandeliers selected by the impeccable Brian J. McCarthy in an article by New Wagger Ronni Diamondstein. (Welcome, Ronni.)
But gems are also great metaphors. There are pearls of wisdom from Dr. Erika Schwartz and wild-things whisperer Sarah Hodgson, a gem of a digital auction house that Patricia Espinosa discovered, a jewel of a dancer/choregrapher in Edward Villella, who’s come back to us in New York after founding the Miami City Ballet and putting it on the map.
Villella is an actual gem. At the New York City Ballet, George Balanchine created the male lead in “Rubies,” the middle section of his ballet “Jewels,” on him. Indeed, December WAG is a bit of a City Ballet love-in with articles on that ballet and an appreciation of the company’s ballet master in chief, Peter Martins, Villella’s old dressing room-mate, who used to lead the “Diamonds” section of “Jewels” with Suzanne Farrell.
Of course, no issue on gems would be complete without a salute to Elizabeth Taylor, who possessed some of the most magnificent stones but, as you will read, was never possessed by them. Taylor – whose greatest treasures were husbands Michael Todd and Richard Burton, her four children and her work with AIDS – reminds us that what we value most is our family, our friends and our own integrity. It’s a theme echoed again and again in these pages, in Dr. Michael Rosenberg’s memories of his time as an Army Reservist during the Iraq War; in Martha Handler and Jennifer Pappas’ column on female friendships; in the WAGwits’ responses to our question of the month; and in the Watch pages that salute nonprofits such as the Breast Cancer Alliance of Greenwich and guest speakers like “NBC4 New York” anchor/reporter – and breast cancer survivor – Pat Battle. (Talk about sparkle.)
What do these pages tell us beyond the price or quality of a stone? They tell us in this the season of light and giving, that you, too, are a jewel – multifaceted, dazzling and enduring, a gift to the world.