I watched her staring at her ring. Often, I had felt that the ring I had slipped around her finger was plain and simple. Maybe I could have waited for a while before the altar visit. But we were in a hurry and wanted to get it done before the eruptions from close volcanoes could spew ash and heat and cause disruption. That was so long ago…

She was pretty. Very pretty. But she never accepted this. Her only statement, whenever I would express this would be, “Jewellery makes a woman beautiful. And elegant.” I wanted to, when the moment beckoned, get clarity on this. I waited.

We sat sipping piping hot tea. She, in her usual chirpy self, tweeted anecdotes on my (lack of) fashion sense to which I was prompt in responding, “You have to be a man to understand a man’s taste, honey…” my voice trailed off the moment I pre-empted what was coming. “O! really? So tell me something about a man’s taste, dear” The last word had traces of surreal magnanimity; maybe I felt so.

“A man loves his clothes.” I knew I wasn’t going far on this. And I knew the conclusion too. But now that I had already entered the ring, I couldn’t retreat. “Yes, every man sure does. But tell me, do clothes define you men…?” she was crisp. “Of course, they do, my dear. But not just clothes….” I quickly returned the barb but she interrupted.

“Then what else..?” she could catch a fly with her eyes closed.

“Forget that; you tell me what pleases a woman apart from her man and her family…” I had completed the sentence even before I had the courage to say it. And I braced for impact. The answer would, as usual, impress me more than before. I was sure of her. She had never let me down with her scrutiny and analysis each time I presented her the opportunity to.

‘It isn’t really difficult to put in simple words, my dear” she adjusted her position to make herself more comfortable. And continued in her inimitable style, “Jewellery.”

“Jewellery? Is that it?” I sought clarity. “What about jewellery? And how can you be so sure?”

She was as cool as she could be. “A woman loves her jewellery. She takes pride in her collection of valuables. A woman loves to define her…” “This is generic, honey,” I interrupted.

“Wait. Allow me to complete. Hold your senses.” She was upright and her voice, clear.

“Jewellery adorned is a sign of class. A woman, whatever her background, loves to showcase her class. She is her own master in defining elegance. Every woman loves her personality. And her persona. She seldom knowingly lets herself down when it comes to grace.” I agreed. And nodded.

“A woman, with her jewellery, feels valuable. She carries the power of richness. And the jewellery needn’t be one of quantum…” I knew the hint, could have avoided it but as always, I blurted out, “Come, on, jewellery size is also a factor which determines the worth of it!”

“Haha,” she was quick to quip in, “That is for the poster boys. Not for us women. Show me one photo in which a woman…” “Okay, I get it.” I had to cut her off. Visuals of banners and hoardings of men, who called themselves leaders, draped in extravagant jewellery swarmed inside me. But how right she is, I thought. But she was on a roll…

“For a woman, her jewellery is an expression. It is an art of depicting her presence, her beauty. The feeling of wearing a precious necklace is one that can never be delineated. With millions of designs around, every woman still feels her necklace is unique and one-of-its-kind. And that feeling is sublime,” I was beginning to enjoy my interest in her choice of words. And the reverential respect she was attributing to each one…

“But people also prefer fashion jewellery, dear,” I tried a spin. “See dear, it is a personal taste. But it is the taste for jewellery which makes a woman the person she is. Her penchant for jewellery is a tribute to the skill and tedious work undertaken by the artisans and craftsmen who are the unsung heroes. Her love for jewellery is a eulogy to the entire metamorphosis of raw, precious metal to fine jewellery. It is respecting the science behind the entire conversion,” she was now nearly unstoppable. I was in mute mode, but in awe.

“Go on, am listening,” My voice was soft. I quite didn’t want to ruffle the flow. I remembered my mother and her taste for jewellery. Simple yet modish. Her wedding ring, which she so amorously pampered, was one that had a diamond majestically placed in a design that perhaps was exclusively for her finger. My mother looked radiant with that ring. And her necklace was one that made her perhaps the prettiest woman I knew then. It was a simple vintage-inspired piece of fine jewellery, lustrous and of heirloom quality. It was..” I was interrupted.

“Jewellery has nothing really to do with just the wealthy, you know,” She was unperturbed by my sudden stillness. “Every woman pays a price for that jewellery piece she feels is the best for her; that piece which will be an ode to her façade and guise. For a woman, her jewellery is her family.”

“And for a man?” I meekly asked. The moment had come for me to make a statement; I could find none, though.

“Well, you have to be a man to understand a man’s taste, honey,” she smiled. “Or do you want the woman to tell her man about his taste, too…?” I found myself smiling too.

And that started our discussion on this. And well, it was just the beginning.

Part One…. You can very well say!