Monday, July 20, 2009

Catering angst

Trying to decide between caterers is mildly like Michael Scott losing Ed Truck:

"it feels like somebody took my heart, and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears. And at the same time, somebody else is hitting my soul in the crotch with a frozen sledgehammer. And then a third guy walks in and starts punching me in the grief bone, and I am crying, and nobody can hear me, because I am terribly, terribly... terribly alone."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One ring to rule them all

Sorry kiddos. Ultra busyness, what with my radiology rotation. I kid. Seriously, I'm trying to finish my personal statement and study for Step 2 while attempting to secure a caterer and a florist. And dissuade my mom from using a heart border on our invitations. Yikes. More on that later.

So. Rings.

I didn't realize until I was engaged that rings mean so much for a lot of people. For some, it's a tangible gauge of how much your fiance makes, was willing to go into debt for outstanding diamond loans etc. For others, diamonds are evil because of the social and environmental problems connected to diamond mining (which I think are better now after much more media exposure and thanks to Blood Diamond. And for a few, you are singing from a trapeze, wearing a feathered corset top about diamonds being a girl's best friend. Watch out for TB though.

However, I was always fascinated with sapphires.
I don't usually wear jewelry as most of you know, but I always knew that I would like a sapphire for a ring. A relative of mine had this gorgeous sapphire ring that I always remembered. It was an electric blue and completely haunting. The electric blue that pops up, you get lost in the color.

So, as I had alluded to before (thanks Divya) , I didn't want a diamond. Diamonds are beautiful, but I never felt that personal tug. John, being the wise man he is, insisted that ultimately I should choose the ring as I am pretty picky about jewelry. I don't like messy looking jewelry, I don't want to look like I belong to a country club filled with marquis cuts and stiff hair.
First, I looked online. Secretly. I didn't want to seem too excited about looking for a ring. I don't know why! Maybe it's a crazy pride thing. Anyhow, I just browsed during my spare time and saw stuff I liked from Ross-Simons and Solomon Brothers.

Being the type A that I am, I realized that I knew nothing about sapphires. There's a very straightforward grading scale for diamonds, but practically nothing for sapphires. I hated the thought of John potentially spending too much for a gem that was a dud. I learned a lot about sapphires from Pricescope, Richard Wise, and Wildfish Gems.
The gist is this:
1. There are natural sapphires, which are...nature made. There are lab created sapphires, which are man-made. One isn't necessarily better than the other, unless you obviously have a preference from one to the other. My thing is that natural sapphires are valuable the way natural diamonds are valuable: it took a long time for that sucker to form, and actually, good quality sapphires are much harder to find than good quality diamonds. DeBeers has a hard grip on the diamond market and controls the flow of diamonds into the marketplace. Lab created sapphires are much cheaper to make but the markup is HUGE. That's one fine silk purse from a sow's ear.
2. Natural sapphires can be treated. A basic explanation is provided here. So you can take a black colored worthless sapphire, heat treat it, and voila: electric blue! So a stone that was inexpensively attained can be sold for much MUCH more than it was originally attained for. It's fine if you want a treated just want to pay a fair price for your beautiful gem.
3. A good quality sapphire will have minimal inclusions, meaning you shouldn't really see anything but color. A good untreated sapphire will have very small inclusions called feathers or silk...these are basically melted away when heat treated, so this is a good way to check if it's good treated or not. A good sapphire should also have minimal "windows" or zoning. A window means that the light is refracting from the gem too soon. So instead of pure constant blue color hitting your eye, you can see right through the gem!
Also notice that the gem on the right doesn't have an even tone of color. It's not uniformly blue. There's patches of "no" color. That is referred to as zoning. The gem on the left is a better example as you can't see the "window" and the color is relatively even except for the patch of black on the upper left corner. That is called "extinction" when the reflection of light coming from the base of the gem comes out too late.

Okay, physics lesson OVER!
Basically I took this knowledge and started getting an idea of how much good quality sapphires should go for per carat. Thanks Natural Sapphire Company and Cherrypicked!!

Armed with knowledge obsessively attained, I finally went ring shopping with John and the first ring we saw together was the ring I truly loved. Unfortunately it was several thousands of dollars over the budget we agreed upon. Oh well. But then our awesome saleslady Robin showed me a comparable ring, which was much less for some reason. I realized that the price per carat was incorrect!! Robin went to do a pricecheck on the ring I liked and turns out that the price was incorrectly marked! Hurrah! Catecholamine release! Go gemstone nerdiness! So John was sweet and generous enough to betroth me with my Precious:

Thursday, July 9, 2009


People have been asking about how we got engaged so I will indulge you in this wildly romantic tale.
John and I usually take a walk around the neighborhood every afternoon and talk about current events, my current complaints in life, and mock criticisms of the mansions around us. That day in January, I was talking about my dream of going to Europe for weeks on end after graduation, plans for the future, residency, etc. After I'm done yammering, John starts talking in a diplomatic tone of voice, which signals to me something important or vaguely concerning is about to be talked about.

John: It seems to me that we both hope to travel together and live together in the future. Also, it may be a good idea for me to have your parents know me better since we have been together for a while and hope to be together in the future. With that in mind, I would suggest perhaps getting married when you're about to graduate medical school.
Me: You want to get married so my parents will accept us?

The conversation goes on, but basically John argues it's much more than having my parents accept us and I'm slightly skeptical about the timing of getting married. We go back into the house with me saying, "okay let me think about it for a little bit."

And then about two weeks pass. Before you get all hot and bothered with the time lapse, I was in the middle of Internal Medicine and was still trying not to freak out everyday about clinical work, being viewed as a possible gunner or a slacker, and getting a crack's worth of sleep and sun exposure (which consisted of me looking longingly out of the hospital windows and then scurrying away). At the end of the day, I'm with John and say, "You know, you're right. I think we should get married"........and fall dead asleep on the couch.

It's not very romantic, but I love that we get to see each other everyday, we take walks together, and at the end of the day, I can accept a 2 week old proposal.

Next topic: How I pretend not to be interested in an engagement ring

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yay First Post

I want to record the process of planning this wedding hence the blog. However, it's also a reminder to myself that I don't need to be medical student/wedding planner and have everything perfect, hence the title of the blog.

Gotta keep it real and not go crazy. Feel free to post ideas, thoughts, whatever.