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Tribute to Feline and Canine Confidants

his story comes from a very dear and longtime customer, who requested to remain anonymous. I am so grateful to her for sharing the heartfelt story behind the project we completed together in June.

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

--Anatole France

"I have always preferred the company of animals to people. Kindness, gentleness, companionship, no judgment. In the fall of my senior year of college, I was struggling. I was very lonely and unhappy. I was set to graduate a semester early, but had a long few months of work to get through to reach the finish line. So, I got myself a tiny companion: a kitten. Obviously this was not allowed, but somehow I managed to keep her hidden in my dorm room as I typed away on my computer with its fan blowing hot air onto her belly as she sprawled out behind it like a lizard under a heat lamp. She slept on her own pillow every night in my loft bed, which was more remarkable because she climbed the ladder on the end to get up to me and used a set of makeshift "stair" steps to get down. I was indebted to her for being my confidant, my keeper of secrets, and an amazing friend. We finished college and left, driving home up and around the 495 beltway with her riding proudly in her carrier. What can I say? She loved rides. We were together through breakups, new jobs, roommates, deaths in the family -- the entire roller coaster of life. Then my boyfriend -- eventually fiancé -- now husband joined us. She loved him immediately.

On our wedding day, my husband gave me a bracelet that Stacey had designed -- a hydrangea bracelet, my favorite flower -- as his gift to me. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He was eager to show me where it had come from and we discovered that Stacey "reclaims" beloved heirloom jewelry and gives you the gift of redesigning it into something you love. It is a treasure reclaimed and brought to life as something new. We are very environmentally conscious and love reusing, repurposing and up-cycling and so we planned. When my paternal grandmother passed away, we purchased her engagement ring and wedding band from the estate with the intention of eventually making a tribute ring for my beloved kitty. I held on to those rings for more than five years, wondering what they might become.

A few years into our marriage, we got a dog. He belonged to someone else, but latched onto me so strongly that he just stayed. He is brilliant and warm and intuitive and very responsive to me. He is so nice to our other pets. My husband jokes that the cat was the "littlest love of my life" and the dog is my best friend and that he is "OK being number three".

Ultimately, my kitty lived with me for 17 years, just one month shy of her 18th birthday. After a few months had passed, we felt ready to move forward and attended an open house at Stacey's studio. When we met with Stacey, I had done a little homework but needed a lot of guidance to bring this project to life. I did not want a ring that would dwarf or overshadow my understated engagement band. I also do not wear yellow gold and was skeptical of making anything that would not mesh well with my engagement and wedding bands (white and rose gold). Stacey was able to interpret what I was trying to say and in what direction to start the design process. While at the appointment, we also remarked offhandedly that we would probably be making a tribute ring for the dog as well in the future. I'm glad I made the comment at that moment, because in her infinite wisdom, Stacey explained that it is easier to carve or fully make both rings at the same time if they are to be complementary rather than trying to go back later and make a mate. So we went ahead and decided to have both rings made at the same time.

The additional large stone for the second ring was not part of the material that we brought with us to the project. At the last minute, my dad was able to purchase the engagement ring that had belonged to the mother of his best friend from college. This gentleman had unexpectedly passed away in 2019.

I think my husband and I were both a bit nervous because we had worked with a custom jeweler before and the final project was not what we wanted. Stacey accommodated us in every way possible. She had extra ideas at-the-ready when we came for appointments in the event that we had gone off track in design. We communicated frequently via email. We also feel that she was able to answer every single question we could have had regarding timeline for creation, to her techniques that addressed my worries about "losing a stone" to basic concerns about fit and wear. Ultimately, I could not be happier with my project. Stacey's ability to listen and adjust her creative process to meet my needs as a customer is exactly the reason I ended up satisfied and grateful and the reason my husband and I put our trust in her with something that was this important to us. Working with Stacey to create these rings was healing for both of us.

The large stone in each ring represents my cat's or dog's life here on Earth and the smaller stone represents each of them in the night sky when they leave me. I am connected to my grandmother whom I loved and my dad's best friend with whom he shared more than fifty years of wonderful friendship. My kitty left me on June 23, 2019. Her ring has been on my finger since Stacey completed it and gave it to me. The stones twinkle at me every once in a while when the sun hits them just right; a constant reminder that she's OK now. My dog is still with me so his ring is in my jewelry box until it's his time to go and then I will put it on with gratitude to remind me of all the love he brought to my life each and every day."

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