Marrying Well for Fun and Profit: Bling

Advice for the upwardly-mobile Miss from Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot.

“Men grow cold
as girls grow old,
and we all lose our charm
in the end.
But square-cut
or pear-shaped,
these rocks won’t
lose their shape.
Diamonds are a
girl’s best friend.”

Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes


My Dear Vulgarian Miss,

To bling or not to bling? For you this is not a question! Jewelry is an indicator not only of wealth, but also of taste and breeding. If you mean to marry well, you dare not make a misstep here.

I won’t deny that gaudy opulence is tempting, but do you see me dressed like Liberace? Fight the good fight, my dear V.M. Save the bling for a costume ball.

Do work to cultivate a sense of style. For not only must your jewelry be genuine, but it must also be tastefully worn. How quickly aesthetic excess can change a lovely young miss into a mere ‘Miss Thang.’

Here are my guidelines:

Paste stones you’re passing off as real must be set in gold or silver.
• Avoid very large gems if you’re young. People will assume they are false.
• Go ahead if you’re old, unless the hair is cheaply dyed and the skin tattooed.
• Only one statement piece, unless you wish to look like a Christmas tree.
• Beware of sporting ‘Too Much Look’ with accessories.
• The well-bred wear bracelets only on the right wrist. I do not know why.
• Bracelets that tinkle are annoying. “Less cowbell,” please.
• In my world, an anklet suggests you are ‘available’ for the right price.
• Diamonds are to be worn only in the evening and with a single-color gown.
• If your gown is ornate, your necklace should be simple. And vice-versa.
• Long earrings are for women who have been blessed with an elegant neck.
• One substantial ring per hand, unless you’re selling jewelry. *shudder*
• One woman’s Trashy Chic is not another woman’s treasure. Run!

Jewelry does make a statement. Your job is to ensure that it is the right one!

Cordially yours in the upward climb,

Sir Walter Elliot, Bart

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”
Confucius (551-479 BC)

“No gold-digging for me…I take diamonds! We may be off the gold standard someday.”
Mae West (1893-1980)


Copyright (c) Laura Hile, 2011

18 thoughts on “Marrying Well for Fun and Profit: Bling

  1. Gayle

    Dang, Laura, I was just about to put on my 4-carat diamond earrings for school. I thought they would look good with my striped capris and white T-shirt. It’s a workday after all.

    Maybe the emeralds instead?



    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Yes, emeralds would be best for day wear. And no 4-carat diamonds for you, dear Gayle. Hon, you’re too young!

      Besides, you’d be mugged at school. By fellow teachers! (I’m a teacher, so I know. We’re a violent, envious bunch.)

      Here’s where Sir Walter’s advice about paste diamonds came from. When I was 30, my mom and I had our ears pierced (okay, repierce for me, mine had grown closed). We bought 0.5 carat cubic zirconia earrings, and Mom insisted that they be mounted in 14k gold. I shrugged and went along. “Not too large,” she added. “That’s the mistake most women make with imitation gemstones. Too obvious.”

      Thing is, when I wore my earrings, everyone assumed they were fake. When Mom wore the same exact earrings, everyone thought they were real. “It’s my age,” she admitted. And also the fact that she could well afford the real thing.

      I still wear those earrings. The 14k setting was an excellent idea.


    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Such a shame, ain’t it, Jane? I don’t see why we can’t wear a diamond tiara to the office. It would make saying things like, “Off with his head!” so much easier, you know? But rules are rules, and diamonds are only for evening wear.


  2. Susan Kaye

    I hope Sir Walter is preparing a tutorial on piercings. Placement is certainly a concern for the fashion-forward young person–or oldster trying for a younger look–and we could all use some solid advice on what metals are acceptable in those piercings. I think there is nothing so tacky as a person with guaged ears that clash with their lip and eyebrow rings, studs or other.


  3. Laura Hile Post author

    Oh my word, of course!

    I suspect he’d advise that all body piercings be done in platinum, don’t you ? Always in good taste, platinum. And, due to the expense, self-limiting.


  4. Gayle Mills

    I had a student a few years ago who was pierced everywhere that a rod, a hook, a ball, or a loop could be placed. I counted 16 piercings on his face alone. I shudder to think what treasure was to be found underneath the clothing he wore. *shakes head violently*

    Anyway, one Monday morning he came in with NO PIERCINGS! We are required to stand at our classroom doors during class changes. So, when I saw him coming down the hallway, I did a double take to make sure that it was really the same student. Before I could put a hold on my mouth, I said, “You really are a nice-looking young man! I would never have guessed that all of that cuteness was hiding underneath all of that metal. What happened?”

    He grinned at me and said, “I got locked up Saturday night. They made me take it all out.”

    So, see, the criminal justice system does work.



  5. Susan Kaye

    Finally, taxpayer dollars at good work!

    He probably forgot where they all went so gave up putting them back in.

    That is priceless, Gayle!


    1. Laura Hile Post author

      LOLOL, Sue.

      If he got them back.

      When I was a juror, we went through a metal detector at the courthouse door, just like everyone else. Apparently many of those coming to court (not jurors, usually) had a dilemma about the knives, guns, chains, etc., in their pockets. Before entering the building, they hid them in the bushes out front. Humans being not very original, every hour or so security officers made the rounds and gathered up the goods. Boxes full.

      Kind of a bummer for the once-armed person. Some of those knives were pretty nice.

      I wonder if the Washington County Criminal Justice System puts up stuff for sale on Ebay?


  6. Gayle Mills

    I also entered another funny family anecdote.

    My 5-year-old son was aggravating his 4-year-old sister as we made our way to school one morning. She turned to him and, with a toss of her ponytail, told him to stop his “despicable” behavior. Of course, I was very impressed with her total mastery of the English language, and I told her teacher what she had said. I also told the secretary, several of my friends, my sisters, and when we got home, I told her dad. My son looked at me with this puzzled look and said, “What’s the big deal with ‘despicable’? Daffy Duck says it all the time.”



    1. Susan Kaye

      Yes, and I remember the gophers who said, “indubitably” all the time. AND, the gophers even gave etiquette lessons. “After you.” “No, after YOU.” “No, I insist, after YOU!” Ah, Warner Brothers, the cartoons that helped build a great society.


      1. Laura Hile Post author

        Classical music lovers owe Chuck Jones, the genius behind our favorite Looney Tunes characters–who was also a lover of opera–rather a lot. I teach a music appreciation class for middle school students. I’ll play a piece by, say, Rossini or Liszt or Wagner or Strauss. “I know that one!” they’ll say. Thanks to cartoons.

        And then there is dialog. “Oh, is THAT what he meant?” students say. (Ha! I said the same thing!)

        Never teach down to children. Or adults.🙂

        (From The Ducksters, 1950)

        Daffy Duck: I will now play a passage from a famous opera, and you must name the opera.
        Porky Pig: But… but I’m weary.
        Daffy Duck: Listen carefully!
        [plays a single note on piano]
        Daffy Duck: And there you have it! Now, what’s the opera?
        Porky Pig: C-Cavalleria Rusticana?
        Daffy Duck: Audience?
        Audience: Rigoletto!


  7. Gayle Mills

    Love that, Laura. I’m going to pass this on to my sister Robin Helm. She recently was hired to teach music to elementary students at the local Discovery School.

    You and Susan have a great weekend!



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