CHAPTER ONE: THE BLUE DIAMOND
(Bregovic, “Underground Tango”, Underground Soundtrack)
My fascination with diamonds begins with my very own heart-shaped diamond… or so I thought it was a diamond.
When my husband and I married, we had very little money, not more than a few hundred dollars. I was on a full scholarship at New York University studying for my Ph. D. in Comparative Literature and my doctor-husband was doing research at Yale Medical School. When I unexpectedly got pregnant, my husband decided to go into private practice in New York City. But in order to begin and pay for his new office, he had to take a series of unusual jobs: “moonlighting” as he called it.
One of these jobs was to go to Riker’s Island prison once a month, where he would examine and treat inmates in the afternoon and evening. At night he’d sleep in the clinic in case there was an emergency. My husband found this quite amusing. When he would call me to say good night, he delighted me with stories about his patients and their crimes and the three bodyguards protecting him. He was especially fascinated about the concert violinist who killed his unfaithful wife and the lawyer who sold non-existing apartments on a make-believe island.
When my husband wasn’t moonlighting, he was diligently trying to build up his private practice. Not an easy task in New York City. One bright winter morning, a gentleman came to see him.
“Doctor, I’m sick. I fear I may have to be admitted in the hospital. But I have no insurance, no money.”
It was my husband’s first month in practice and already the bills were piling up on his desk. But my husband is a good man and felt sympathy for the jaundiced patient before him.
“Sit down,” my husband said.
“Do you have a wife?” the patient asked in a Russian accent.
“Did you give her a diamond ring when you got married?”
“Diamond? I barely had enough money to buy a gold wedding band.”
The Russian took out of his pocket a huge, heart-shaped ring of at least 25 carats that shined bright blue.
“What is that?” my husband asked.
“Payment. I believe it will be enough.”
My husband wished it would have been a hundred dollar bill so he could pay one of the invoices staring at him.
When he came home and told me about his day, he took from his pocket a small black box and put a ring on my finger. “Do you like it?”
“It’s quite big,” I said, examining the many facets. “Is it a diamond?” I was very young and jewels were not part of my bibliography or life-style.
“I prefer my gold band,” I whispered and returned the too large stone to its box. After dinner, I put the velvet case into a large shoebox. And there it stayed for twenty years.
Time passed. Without realizing I became a little older.
One day, as I was rummaging through the shoebox for a pair of earrings, I found my husband’s gift.
“Oh my God,” I marveled as I brought it to the light. “What is this?” I had forgotten about the treasure after all the years. “What if it’s a real diamond?”
The very next day I took it to my friend’s father, a jeweler.
“What is it?” I asked him.
“How did you get this?” was his initial response.
I got so excited. Maybe it’s a real diamond!
“An aqua marine,” he diagnosed after analyzing it in several machines. “Very fine. That’s why it’s so dark. The facets are cut like a diamond’s.”
“What should I do with it? I can’t wear it on my finger. Not when I ride the subways of New York.”
And together, he and I redesigned the ring into a pendant. He encircled the blue heart shaped jewel with 16 fine white diamonds. It looked so much like the Hope diamond that I shivered. Would it bring me good luck or bad luck?
I went home and put the black velvet case back into its shoebox and there it stayed for another decade until I took it out, placed in on my bed, and shared it with Mica.
“One day,” I told her shining a small flashlight on its many facets, “when you need it, I will give you this “Gift of Diamonds.”