Q. I am a lady (I hope), of what is called a certain age. How certain, I don't care to say. I also am certain that I'm not going to marry again. The reason I'm certain, is that my fiance just died, two months ago, of old age. I lost two husbands to the same afflication (even when I was younger, I liked older men, and my second husband, who I lost not to old age but to middle-aged crisis, was my only big mistake) and now it's enough. I plan to lead a nice, quiet, peaceful life being an old lady.
My question is about rings. My life-long habit has been to wear a gold band whenever I was married, and to remove it in widowhood only when I had plans for another marriage. Thus I have been running around with a bare finger for a while, as I was engaged.
The peculiar thing is, though, that I have just gotten my first engagement ring. My first husband didn't have the money to buy me one (when, of course, everyone thought I was marrying a man so much older that I for his money, ha-ha) and no else ever even thought of it. Until my last fiance, that is. He had been having a beautiful, large diamond set for me at the jeweler's (I'm sure it was his late wife's ring that was being sized for me, but a diamond is a diamond, and I wasn't going to question it), and they called me to come and pick it up.
I can't just wear a diamond engagement ring now, can I? I'll look like the world's olderst perpetual bride. I have a drawer full of wedding rings, but whose ring should I wear, when none of them is related to the diamond donor? I'm not really used to not wearing any ring, either, as if I were a spinster. All the other widows around here wear engagement and wedding sets, but they've all led simpler lives than I seem to have.
What do you suggest? I may sound flip, which is the way I'm endeavoring to look at life (what choice do I have?), but the truth is that I am proud of having been loved by three good men (husbands one and three and the last fiance, God bless him), and don't feel I'm exactly living alone when I'm living with such nice memories. Also, the diamond is gorgeous.
A. As you have noticed during your adventurous travels through life, wedding and engagement rings have two values: sentimental or symbolic, and esthetic or, well shall we say recognizable by one's insurance company. Let us spread out your collection of jewerly, and arrnage it suitably for symbolic and pleasing effect.
Your situation is different from that of a widow whose memories are focused on one man. Miss Manners' suggestion is that you put on, first, the wedding ring of husband No.1; then the diamond engagement ring, and then the wedding ring of husband No.3.
In fact that Miss Manners thinks that a large diamond looks pretty when it is modestly nestling in a stack of plain bands has -- well, only something to do with it.