Black Pearls - A Christmas Story
Updated: May 10
Girl in Style illustration featuring Robert Wan's 'Sautoir' necklace
The fireplace glistened with the warmth of a thousand sparky flames. Echoed its cackles, like music, the sound of champagne being poured, all fizz and liquid gold - weightier than the Rat Pack.
Indeed, Winter had taken over from the gentle promise of its Autumn friend. And with the dissolution of her golden pathway, became a greater resolution in the minds of the Bright Young Things to create a feeling of assurance inside.
And so, the Christmas party season had begun.
Men; jovial, clapped each other on the backs as they spoke of trips to New York City. The women, quietly affecting the left hands of their sisters to see what the last year had brought, sat sweetly talking.
Amidst these thirty-something-mostly-singletons, Dominique had entered as a contradiction. She was not quite thirty and had never really been single. Indeed she was rather treated like an endangered species; so great that it has to be protected for a while until it’s allowed to fulfil its potential.
Independently-minded, she had rarely been allowed to make her own decisions which had left her untrusting of herself. She was beautiful but uncertain; innocent yet wise beyond her years. Affluent, though her life rarely bore sustenance which was unfortunate as she particularly disdained change. Mostly, Dominique was mystery - with fantasy and vigour founded in the greatest imagination.
She was born in June and wore a string of black pearls around her neck.
And as cocktail hour ensued, she noted with fair assumption that ‘grown-upping’ was a term that could fairly depict her new peers. The boys (who appeared to have become gentlemen based on what they thought it meant to be a 'gentleman') spoke of which wine they would open at dinner as though they knew what the hell they were talking about.
Dominique had grown up on her family’s estate. But mostly, she never pretended to know anything.
So, as with most social gatherings she attended, Dominique found her niche and it was expectedly unexpected. Pretty though she was, she had rarely enjoyed the company of the 'popular' girls back in school; preferring instead to lock herself in the music room to write songs.
More champagne was poured for which she was grateful and questions were asked of her by those who looked at her awkwardly and couldn’t quite meet her eye.
Dinner commenced and after speaking for a few moments to a chap who seemed to take such great pleasure in relaying that he was Vice President at a bank, Dominique smiled sweetly and scanned the table. In her head-movie (and mostly to appease herself from the conversation about religion that was now ensuing), she wondered which of these boys, if any, were men.
Not that it mattered. After all, she was taken.
There was the boy to the far right corner of the table who sort of pretended to be eccentric but in actual fact, seemed fairly normal and was most likely the type of boy her mother would have liked her to marry. And then of course, there was Mr. Vice President sitting next to her who just about irritated her in every way possible because he thought he was God's gift to the earth. As her mind ran, she suddenly noticed the man opposite her starting to speak for the first time. He had been quiet but didn't appear shy; had resolve and weighed a bit more than the rest. She liked him, she decided before much to her dismay, her opinion on the current topic of discussion was requested and her head-movie rolled the final credits.
After dinner, the group retired to sit in front of the fire place once more. It was raining outside; a fact Dominique loved because she had forgotten her umbrella and the sky was crying mirth.
She had resolved recently to change; her appeasement of everyone and everything. Dominique liked to make others happy to the extent of nervous-making sacrifices it bestowed upon on her. But for all sorts of reasons appertaining to the fact it was the first time in her thus-far life that there appeared a strong foundation married with the freedom of living truly alone, she felt no need for anyone to 'see' her because she was starting to see herself.
Grateful however was she that it was him who sat next to her as the tea was poured. He had an air that was unassuming and undemanding. She noted nothing in the moment other than the pleasant and calm conversation that ensued. Each part seemed surprising not for its spontaneity (which she hated) but rather, she found it interesting. They spoke of cars and industry and he took her seriously. As it unravelled, she enjoyed his unpretentiousness (his watch appeared to have a Disney character on it - whimsical) and gentle demeanour marred with determination. A bit like her, a slight contradiction. And so she thought, perhaps a man of his stature sat slightly slumped and tired only for he too had been defeated somehow. Yet still, there was energy. But all this, would come to her later.
For it was only when they were interrupted that it suddenly dawned on her that she could sit next to him forever.
It was an impossibility; she didn't believe in 'love at first sight' and was otherwise betrothed.
Later that evening, a fever ensued. As though after many lifetimes, someone had arrived to teach her about the type of love she hadn't known existed. The second kind: that which makes you the greatest version of yourself.
As she took off her jewellery, she remembered an old adage, 'good girls, wear pearls'. They shone; black and mighty as the sea at night.
Robert Wan is described as ‘the emperor of Tahitian pearls’. I became at once fascinated with the house of RW when I discovered it on a trip to the Middle East and since, have become an ambassador. Quite different to anything I have seen before, Robert Wan has been producing pearls for 40 years. And as our Christmas story suggests, most notably, of exceptional lustre and colour; from peacock to grey to cherry. But for our heroine, they are as deep and dark as deep can be.
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