When the Sparkle is Gone:
What to do with your jewelry after a split
By Christy A. Zlatkus, Esquire
Early in the relationship I thought would be “The One”, I had a birthday. My boyfriend was in the process of buying a house and I didn’t want him to spend too much money on my gift. He had the down payment, the moving costs, furniture costs, and all the other expensive things that go into adult-ing. In light of the outlay ahead of him, I told him to go easy on the spending for the birthday.
At the time I was just finishing my first year of law school and was beginning a dual Summer internship with two Judges in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland (both family law judges, of course!). My boyfriend went to Kohls and bought me a three strand, faux pearl bracelet that I could wear with my suits in the Courthouse. He promised that someday when money was better, we would get real pearls.
I LOVED it. Not loved, LOVED.
I wore that bracelet Every. Single. Day. It broke several times and I would re-string it, replace the spacers and clasps, and even went so far as to have it professionally re-strung by jeweler, who looked at me like I was nuts for re-stringing a faux pearl bracelet. Faux or no, I loved that bracelet.
When I graduated from law school, my boyfriend got me a real pearl necklace to wear. I loved that and wore it often. That necklace was powerful. When I was in my relationship, it was a symbol of the love we shared when he gave it to me. It was a reminder that we were together in leaner times (when I was in school and he was buying his home) and could now share in a brighter future. It was a wearable reminder of joy and love.
Like most people, when the relationship ended, the necklace’s meaning changed for me. The pearls lost their power; it was just a strand of beads. The beauty is still there, inside those luminescent pearls, but the power, the sighs of joy, and the pride in wearing the piece comes from the experience we share with the jewelry and the people it reminds us of.
As I started to heal from the breakup, I felt like a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon as I let go of the features of my old life. Each item I would shed— and replace with something that was more “me”— brought me close to my New Normal and to who I wanted to be in my new life. Old throw pillows that we used to cuddle with and bat around together…gone! That sofa we made out on had to go too…out with the old, in with the new! The car we had, ahem, special time in, got upgraded and soon I was zipping around in a New Normal that looked and felt a lot more like me.
About a year into my new life, I decided I didn’t want that necklace around. I no longer felt joy when I wore it. I gave it to my Father and told him to get rid of it. I told him he could sell it and donate the proceeds to charity, give it away to someone I didn’t know, donate it, bury it in the backyard, toss it in the ocean, give it to a stranger on the street…I didn’t care as long as I never saw it again, didn’t profit from it, and never knew what happened to it. To this day, I don’t know what happened to it and I am good with that. I hope some other lucky woman is wearing the necklace and getting all the wonderful feeling from it that I felt as I proudly wore it during my time with my ex.
One of the most frequent questions I get from my clients (especially women clients) is what they should do with their jewelry at the end of their divorces, especially their engagement and wedding rings. Should they save the piece for their children? Keep them? Sell them? I often give the same advice: There is no reason for a beautiful piece of jewelry to collect dust in your home if it can bring some other person the same joy it once brought to you and give you one last gift in return. If you need the money for something important such as moving to a new home, buying health insurance, or paying for retraining, sell the item and allow the proceeds to help you reach your New Normal. If you don’t need the money for something important, sell the piece and treat yourself something wonderful for yourself: a vacation, a new piece of jewelry, a new couch, or a relaxing massage. Let that piece of jewelry give you one last sigh of joy and then move on to its own new life.
When selling your jewelry, be careful to go to a reputable jeweler or online service that can help you to carefully evaluate the value of your piece, make sure you fully understand the evaluation, and partner together with you to get you the best price possible. For this, we strongly recommend our friends at Worthy.
Ridding ourselves of the old and bringing in the new is a wonderful way to welcome in your New Normal. A good friend of mine (also a family law attorney!) posted a quote on her Facebook page today that inspired this article: “Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought life would be like & learn to find the joy in the story you’re living.” This is exactly what I did with that pearl necklace and what I encourage my clients to do for themselves each day.