By Antoinette (Toni) Rahn
Like many people, or at least I hope I'm not alone in this, meeting the parents of someone you're enamored with is a bit unnerving. Will they like me? Will they think I'm someone deserving of their son or daughter? Will they have a relatively small guest list for the wedding? Ya know, the usual stuff.
Upon formally meeting my husband's parents, many eons ago, things went fairly well. During that first meet, as I was chatting with my husband's mother outside his parents home, she pulled me a bit closer and said in a low tone "Our neighbor is on her way over, she's a little different, but she means well." Hmm. I wasn't sure what to expect, considering that one person's version of 'different' and 'meaning well' can be drastically different than someone else. In any event, upon her arrival, this brightly dressed woman greeted me with a fierce embrace and one simple question: Do you like old jewelry?
I quickly discovered why this was the first question she asked, as she walked me through her collection of gems, jewels, and baubles. She described each piece with equal measure excitement and confident precision; which left me feeling like I should have been taking notes, as surely there would be a quiz after. There was no quiz, but she offered up her "most treasured" book for me to look through. It was Warman's Jewelry by Christie Romero. She had slips of paper marking essential sections of the book, and in some places there were handwritten notes in the columns — always in pencil, though. There were sections she knew by heart, and specific pages with pieces she had in her own collection. It was remarkable.
Now, more than 15 years later, this joyful woman, my husband's parents, and Christie Romero have all passed, but their influence remains a part of the fabric of many lives. Plus, from time to time I am struck by the irony that I've worked for the very company that publishes Warman's Jewelry for more than a decade. Now, the updates to this premiere jewelry reference are handled by other notable jewelry authorities, but the foundation of the book — amassed and organized by Ms. Romero, remains intact.