If you’re read Menopause in Manhattan, you know about the ruby ring. I don’t want to give away the plot, suffice it to say that it plays an important role.

The ruby ring symbolizes all that a woman can be: her strength, determination, independence. A feeling of – I can do this! I’m capable! I’m in charge of my life!

Now that I designed it and own it, I feel a certain strength too. Its a sign of empowerment, of accomplishing a difficult project on my own and proudly sporting the achievement.Many years ago, when I secured a fabulous retainer as the interior designer of a large hospital complex, I decided to treat myself to a ring as a prize. I gathered up all my courage and walked into Harry Winston, that bastion of BIG jewels on Fifth Avenue. When I explained what I was looking for, they gently guided me to their branch across the street – the one that had jewelry for less than the cost of a Maserati. I didn’t find anything I liked. I also checked Bulgari, Tiffany and of course Fortunoff (every Jewish girl from Queens or Long Island shops at Fortunoff). Alas, nada. I never got that ring but kept the dream alive.

My first encounter with a ruby was thanks to my husband. He said he wanted to buy me one as an engagement ring. I must admit it sounded a bit strange to me, but I was intrigued. I already had a diamond engagement ring from my first marriage. I liked the idea of something different. And I loved the idea that he knew what he wanted to get me.

It was indeed a ruby ring that I received and now, many years later, I mourn it’s loss. I don’t know whether it was carelessness on my part, or an evil house cleaner, but the ring disappeared. Perhaps, that was in the back of my mind when I chose to weave a ruby ring into the story of Elie Sands – to bring that lost ring back to life.

Rubies are said to be imbued with the characteristics of devotion, integrity, courage, happiness, confidence and strength. Could I have possibly picked a better stone?

I wanted a real ruby for myself – and for readers of the book, if they would like to have one too. Oh yes, that was another idea – offer the ruby ring to fans of the book – proudly show off your ruby ring as a symbol that you too are an independent, together woman! But alas, when I started to price rubies – I was in for a shock. Mama Mia!!!

And another problem – Elie’s ring was a cabochon ruby surrounded by diamonds. I wanted something simpler. Cabochons are lovely if the stone is absolutely glittering and clear as a mountain stream. But if the stone is less than than that, there are better ways of displaying its beauty.

The search was on!

I found a source of gems, right here in Tel Aviv, and I got a mini lesson in rubies. There are many, many grades. Yes, you can purchase a lovely synthetic ruby – it looks great! But it is, after all,  artificial and I wanted a real stone, one that comes from the earth. I found it!

My ruby is an African ruby. It is a large stone (20 carats), varying in shades of red/deep pink/maroon. Actually it reminds me of a deep, luxurious Cabernet. It is faceted, which brings out all the subtle tones. The stone has been treated, to enhance its color. My understanding is that it is subjected to intense pressure, via nuclear power, which then forces out the richness of the red – something that would have happened naturally over time (like maybe several millenia).

When it came to designing the ring for the stone, I checked with several experts. Yossi explained a bit about the world of jewelry making, Hugo sent me to the stone supplier and Kern sketched several designs. The best lead was from a saleswoman in a jewelry store – who looked at the stone, loved it and sent me to Avi.

Avi, the jeweler, is a gem of a guy (sorry for the pun, but it really applies). He works in a small crowded space, interrupted constantly by the buzzing of his door alarm. People are in and out all the time. “Avi, I need a pendant.” “Avi, we’re waiting for you to have coffee with us.” “Avi, what do you say about this stone? I want it set like this, surrounded by diamonds.” “Hey bro, what’s up? I need Alexandrite – got any?” Avi has a pleasant, smiling face, he wears a kipah and he concentrates on his work with an intensity of a surgeon hovering over a patient with an open chest.

We spoke about the design possibilities and in the end – he suggested I let him design something appropriate for the stone. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to pay for it. Sounded like a good deal to me so I took it. Several days later I was back in his studio to view the unfinished masterpiece.

When Avi brought it out, I was excited, but contained. It looked raw, still in need of work. The setting was too high – I wanted to wear it with my Cartier style triple band wedding ring, and it had to float over the rings but not be too high in the air. Nor could it be so low as to scratch the other bands. I wanted the prongs that held up the stone to be almost invisible – the ruby is what counts, not the setting. And I wanted the band of the ring to be attractive without being heavy. It had to be elegant, strong enough to support the stone and comfortable to wear.

We did it all! A few hours, several interruptions and a good strong cup of coffee later, I had my ruby ring. The stone is set into a 14kt encasing, which is hammered and finished in matte gold. The band is also slightly matte – it looks beautiful and shows off the natural beauty of the stone.

I wore my ruby ring out of there with a sense of excitement and accomplishment. It symbolizes to me that I finished this book, I produced it myself and I am now proud to see it making its way in the world. Although I am happily married and wouldn’t trade in my husband for all the ruby rings in the world, I also feel strong within, that this is mine, all mine, and it provides me with a reminder that I am capable of many things. And designing a ruby ring is just one of those things.

Now where can I get some ruby slippers???

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