Hello fans of Ksenia and Bruno. Because of her care and commitment to you all, Ksenia has come to the conclusion that I should blog about buying her engagement ring, which can be seen lavishly strewn across this webpage.
A while back when Ksenia was in London, we got chatting and realized that the only way for us to be together in the same place for more than a couple of months was through wedlock. It was, I’m sure, one of the most unromantic moments of her young life and something I knew I had to amend quick-fast. I had not yet bought a ring and was totally unprepared to do so quickly, so a ‘conversation’ had to suffice with the promise of a ring to come in the swooping one-kneed manner she had dreamt of as an adolescent.
One of the bonuses of a long-distance relationship is the seismic gaps between seeing one and other; all the time someone might need to plan for a ‘spontaneous’ romantic gesture. I had roughly three months to find, catch and plan to present an engagement ring.
I did not google ‘engagement ring’. Contrary to what many think, heterosexual men do actually have some understanding of good taste and matching aesthetics. I know my Kseni. She is a colourful character, with a touch of retro flair, after all, how can a girl designed by Anthropology be bland?
That said, I thought that a colourful precious stone would suit her as opposed to a big bling-bling diamond. I knew that I wanted to buy at auction too; I have always been around auction houses and am far more at home in them than in a jewellery shop (trans.: jewelry store). For some reason I am always worried I’ll be asked for ID for trying to go into a jewellery shop. Also, I thought something at auction might have a more vintage feel and there is always the chance to buy something really extraordinary at auction if you get lucky and your lot has escaped the attention of other bidders. I, with the help of my Mum, went to Bonhams, Sotheby’s and Christie’s to preview sales. About the fourth sale into the process, I previewed the ring now attached to Ksenia’s finger and just knew she would love it.
On the morning of March 23rd, I went to bid at Christie’s South Kensington. The sale lasted about three hours and two gruelling, stomach-flipping hours later the auctioneer had slowly progressed, lot-by-lot, until lot 128: “An emerald and diamond cluster ring: the raised square mixed-cut emerald, within a brilliant-cut diamond surround.”
The process goes something like this, the auctioneer will either chose a starting bid from somewhere towards the low-end of the estimate or start the bidding with the highest absentee bid left (bid left by someone who cannot attend the auction and who is unprepared to go higher than that bid). There was one absentee bid and it was big, towards the top-end of the estimate. My stomach shrunk, if the bidding was starting so high and so close to my ‘ceiling’ (price > bank balance), then surely there would be a bidder online, on the phones or from amongst the twenty or so enemies around the room.
My paddle went up (that’s not me being British, that is just what they call those signs you stick in the air at an auction with a number on it). “Nothing from the phones….pause….no. Nothing from the net….pause….no. Any other bidders on the floor…..longer pause for fun…..no…going…going….SOLD to the young gentlemen with paddle number 359!”
I was so relieved that it was over. I was of course happy to get the ring but happier still that I could leave the auction house. After paying over a two-day period I was able to go and pick up my winnings. As I walked down the Old Brompton Road, I was torn between excitedly peeking in to see the ring and trying to not let on that what was in the box was valuable. One thing is for sure I have never felt so grown up in my entire life.
The ring stayed safely stowed away until Ksenia’s next trip and I was able to actually get down on one knee and be a proper grown-up in L’ Annonciade, a museum in St. Tropez. In general, the process was great and I am so happy that Ksenia likes the ring. I would highly recommend the auction route to others; it gives you the opportunity to find something unique without a sales person breathing down your neck.
Can’t wait to see (or meet) you all in January!