Kumi Lach Ra'yati Ring

November 2013
Platinum, platinum sterling silver

This is my wedding ring.

I've made many rings for Jewish clientele with Hebrew phrases on them, usually from the Song of Songs. Many have the classic and beautiful inscription "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine"; others have chosen more obscure verses that have a more personal meaning for the couple. Before I proposed to my wife, I decided to take the latter approach for my own ring and sift through the most romantic book of the Hebrew Bible to see if there was something that spoke intimately to my relationship with her. I reasoned that when I found the right verse, I'd know I was ready to propose.

Throughout our courtship, I'd read through the Song of Songs looking for something appropriate. It was about the fourth time through that I was struck by verse 2:10 - 2:11, קומי לך רעיתי יפתי ולכי לך כי הנה הסתו עבר (kumi lach ra'yati yafati ul'chi lach, ki hinei has'tav avar), "arise, my love, my fair one, come away! For now the winter has passed." I nearly wept.

First, some backstory. My wife and I went to high school together in Honolulu, so I've known her since I was 14 years old. Fast-forward to two decades after graduation: I'd been living in Washington DC since attending Georgetown, and she had been bouncing all over the world getting graduate degrees and having adventures. She wound up in DC, and after I messed up a few chances to reconnect we started dating—a minor miracle for both of us, having each been alternately single for long stretches or in a series of ultimately failed relationships. Plus, just before we got together I'd started pulling myself out of a minor depression (or as I had been glibly calling it, "my general malaise"). While she did help my attitude, I'd already been doing the work—else we never would have lasted. About two weeks into the relationship, she asked if it was a problem that she's not Jewish. I replied that it wasn't an issue, but that I missed home and planned on moving back to Hawai’i sooner rather than later... and that we shouldn't continue if she wasn't amenable to that. Not only was she amenable, she became the prime mover. Literally—she managed to find a job in Honolulu that enabled our relocation and moved home a month before I did.

When I read the verse above, I heard it in my wife's voice: "arise, my love, my fair one, come away! For now the winter has passed!" During our many phone and video calls in the month between our respective moves home, it was as though she was exhorting me to leave DC and fly home to her. We'd moved back to Hawai'i in the springtime, so not only was winter over but I was never going to have to live through a full winter again. Because she had helped accelerate—or had at least coincided with—my recovery, our relationship represented to me the passing of the winter of my own discontent (to steal a phrase). The winter of being single was over. The winter of living on the US mainland was over. There could be no other verse that better summarized the joy, celebration and intent of our love and our life together. This verse is my wife calling me to her, comforting me and telling me that everything will be alright.

Naturally, since this is my wedding ring, it's not only the verse that is special—I had to get fancy with the construction as well. At a quick glance my ring looks like a simple silver torus, but if you look carefully you'll see the darker platinum cursive Hebrew letters of the verse wrapping helictically around the entire shank in what appears to be a maddeningly difficult inlay job. In actuality, the ring was cast in two stages—there is a platinum core running through the center of the shank from which all of the letters in the phrase extend outward, so that the entire verse is made from one single piece of metal. After the core was cast, it was covered in a layer of wax up to the level of the tops of the letters. The ring was then re-invested into a mold, the wax was burnt out and platinum sterling silver (a very hard, very bright alloy of sterling where the platinum is substituted for copper as the alloy metal) was cast around the platinum core in place of the wax. The two metals haven't been soldered or welded together, but because of the design and the dual casting the result is two solid and separate pieces of metal that are completely inextricable from each other and the whole they create—as good a metaphor for marriage as there is! I do realize that it may seem odd that there's so much platinum in this ring and yet the design and construction covers most of it in silver... but as my wife points out, sometimes the most precious thing in a relationship is what's underneath.

My wife's wedding band has a great (and far more lighthearted) story as well, and was also done in two-tone white metal. See it here!