28th October 1961


I had arranged to meet Alan on East Ham station but arrived about an hour late.  Even choosing an engagement ring can’t make me on time.

The original idea was to go to an antique shop near Liverpool Street station, as I am determined to have an unusual ring.  When we got there the place was closed.

Alan can get a discount at Winegartens through the Insurance Union so we headed for there.  I lost count of how many times we walked up and down Bishopsgate looking for the shop but I was getting crosser and crosser cos I wanted to go to Barkers in Cheapside where the Bank gets a discount.  We finally did find Winegartens but that was closed as well so we had to get on a bus and go to Cheapside.  When we got off the bus I saw two girls from my office across the road.  After a quick look around to make sure no one was watching we went into Barkers and Alan asked to see some ruby engagement rings.  I was terribly nervous.  I kept thinking about it being the only time I would ever do this and my hand was shaking as I tried on rings.

There was one ring I rather liked.  The diamonds surrounding a ruby were set in a star shape.  Then there was the second-hand ring the chap brought out afterwards.  Alan liked the latter and the assistant said that was the better bargain but I couldn’t make up my mind.  The man must have thought I was crackers when I turned to Alan and said, ‘Let’s go buy my fabric and give me time to think about it.‘  So, after telling him we would probably be back in 10 minutes we went to Nicholsons in St Paul’s Churchyard and I bought the lined satin material for my engagement dress.

We talked about the price of the second ring – £45 minus 10% discount but Alan said that was ok.  I think I had made up my mind in the jewellers as I seemed to know exactly which I wanted as soon as we left.

We went back and bought it.  Then we chose Alan’s garnet.  He didn’t have much trouble picking his ring.  ‘Though the one in the shop wasn’t his size a phone call to the main store and one was being sent over.  There’s good service for you!

My ring is exactly what I wanted even though I didn’t get it in the place intended.  It is 1) a ruby.  It is 2 )big and flashy, which I wanted, particularly cos I want a plain wedding ring.  It is 3) very unusual because it is mounted so high as well as big.  It is 4) old and I wanted an antique ring.  This is late Victorian.  It is perfect and beautiful and I can’t believe anything so expensive is mine.  Its value is £55.  We had to leave it to be altered as it is miles too big for me.

I wonder who had it before me.  It must have been a dress ring cos they used only to have diamond engagement rings.  And only rich people would have been able to afford a dress ring.  I can’t help thinking of someone dancing around in their crinoline, or whatever they wore.

I’ve got to collect the rings after work on Monday.  I’ll have to take Pat with me, I know.  She has been in on this from the beginning and she wont want to miss seeing it before everyone else.  She’ll be so excited about it, I know.

rings 2

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