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The Pendant
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I have a jewelry box which I hadn’t opened in years, until this past Christmas. Some jewelry has monetary value, some has none. There are pieces that have no meaning and some that are priceless to me. I opened the box to find the most expensive item, not because it’s expensive (which it is), but because it belonged to my mother and I decided it was time to give it to my daughter-in-law, Deepti. It’s a teardrop necklace with a ruby center surrounded by diamonds, set in platinum with a platinum chain.

I knew she’d look stunning in it (she’s stunningly beautiful anyway) and because I’ve seen my son, Craig, and Deepti’s relationship develop long enough now (twelve years) that I believe their marriage will last. I’ve seen them look at each other and smile at some memory they share that’s unique to them. A subtle glance that puts them in their own world. From a practical perspective, she’ll inherit everything in the box eventually anyway. I’m not wearing the necklace now, but she will and she occasionally goes to events where that level of adornment will be appropriate. I want someone to enjoy it and wear it (probably post-pandemic, but who knows?). What I do know is that the necklace has no value hidden in my box.

So what is value? When I had the necklace appraised over twenty years ago, I was told it was worth about $3,000. I assume its worth more now, but that’s for insurance purposes. If I sold it, it would be worth only what someone was willing to pay. When I gave it to her, I advised her not to bother insuring it. I never have and only received an appraisal because I knew a jeweler who begged me to get it insured. His perspective isn’t mine. If the necklace is lost or stolen, it’s unlikely to be retrieved and more likely to be sent to the jeweler’s version of a “chop shop” to be sold for parts. On top of that, we aren’t going to take anything with us when we die, so “value” is a short-term concept.

What I hope is that my gift to Deepti will give her a sense of her value to me, that I trust her, that I like her, and that our relationship is important enough for me to gift her with the few “family” things I possess. When I gave it to her at Christmas, she asked, more than once, if I was sure I didn’t want to keep it and wear it myself. Perhaps she didn’t know what to think. Our cultures are so different, it’s hard for me to tell, but I believe the concept of handing down family possessions will mean something to her in time.

And that’s where the more long-term value lies. Not in the object, but in what it represents, whether it’s a gift from someone treasured or a family heirloom of monetary or no monetary value. For me, the most valuable item in my box is a bracelet my son made from some wooden beads and gave to me when he was seven. It must be worth at least $1 now.

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