Missing jewelry gene, and very proud of it

Brenda Braye

I'm supposed to love jewelry, right? The bigger and shinier, the surer I can be of the giver's affection. At least that's what I've been told all my life.

If I am to believe every fashion magazine I've ever read: Gleaming baubles, bangles and beads are intrinsically linked to my happiness as a woman. Flip through the pages and you see smiling women displaying sparkly gemstones on fingers, wrists, necks and even toes with the same pride they would the Nobel Prize.

I have a big problem with this. Though I do enjoy some jewelry, I prefer the kind that's a little more rough-hewn. If it looks like a caveman threw it across a lake, where a bear picked it up, carried it in its gnashing teeth for 200 miles before releasing it into a coursing river, where it was retrieved, thousands of years later, by a cowboy from his horse's hoof after a long trail ride, then it's for me.

Plainly stated, I like funky, hippy-dippy jewelry more than I like the good stuff. You know, the kind that looks like it was put together with a great deal of creativity and zest for life, but not necessarily at great expense.

This can only lead me to one conclusion: It appears that I am missing the "jewelry gene." That mysterious hereditary unit that is supposed to code my attraction to ginormous diamonds and precious metals is seriously MIA.

For the record, this is not my mother's fault. She displays the requisite respect for glistening adornments and taught her daughters to be grateful for what we are given, but I must have been a stubborn child when it comes to jewelry. I don't even have pierced ears. It has taken years of self-acceptance work and lots of reverse retail therapy to comfortably stand up and say, "My name is Brenda and I am jewelry-challenged."

Don't feel sorry for me, though. There are advantages to my condition. For instance, I never had the dilemma of whether or not to become a mistress. Morality notwithstanding, no self-respecting mistress would be caught dead looking a gift diamond in the mouth, and with my less-is-more jewelry mentality, I would have immediately been drummed out of the Courtesan Corps.

As you can imagine, my husband is very happy. What I lack in the jewelry gene department is his gain. He tried early on to gift me with bling I would love. To my credit, I squealed with delight and bejeweled myself liberally at every opportunity, but we know each other well enough now to cut the pretense. He understands that I'm more impressed by theater tickets, sushi dinners and unique scarves that look like they were found in the back of the storage room of an off-road boutique.

As a couple, we have settled into a gift-giving style that seems to work for us both. He loves to fish and for me to support his passion by joining in once in a while without complaint, and I like when he does things that make it seem like he wants to spend time with me when he's not fishing. There is no place for diamonds and platinum in this equation, lucky fellow.

I do have one bone to pick that has bothered me for a long time. What's up with those five golden rings in "The Twelve Days of Christmas"? Even the most bling-addicted, Sparkle Barbie wannabe should know that this smacks of excess. Why can't we be content with, say, two gold, a turquoise and a couple of beaded rings? I love a good song, but this just seems like uninspired fashion.