Since yesterday, at least three people have complimented me on the diamond-shaped Opal pendant I wear everyday.
It's caught me off guard because I've been wearing this necklace -- and the earrings and ring that match it -- since Christmas, and I've never had so many people notice them.
Yet some well-wishers go one step further than applauding my taste and drop the bombshell question -- where did I get it?
Somehow, the fact that my ex-boyfriend gave me the jewelry complicates this simple inquiry.
I either feel compelled to launch into a monologue explaining the complicated history of our relationship and our current status, or offer up the short but relatively awkward response: "My ex-boyfriend gave it to me."
And this never seems to suffice, since "ex" has negative connotations. Then they might get the wrong idea and feel embarrassed to have asked, thinking they're forcing me to recall a painful break-up. I'm actually still close friends with my ex, so I always feel the need to explain myself.
Which brings us to a question of some concern to females everywhere: when a relationship ends, what do you do with the leftover bling?
Some women have found creative ways to deal with extra accessories, and it turns out that men also have varying attitudes about the proper way girls should dispose of the tainted goods.
On the male front, a number of guys I spoke with reached the general consensus that if you hit the track, you give it back.
Male 1: "If she had the nerve to break up with me and break my heart, I want that stuff back!"
This from a guy who said he'd consider re-gifting the stuff for the next girl.
Male 2: "I broke up with my girlfriend and she still has my Seinfeld DVDs. Now she lives in Duluth and I want them back....oh yeah! She has my sweatshirts too!"
Girls, you may want to test the waters to see if the guy you're breaking up with is of this mindset.
If you haven't been dating for very long and you have his things at your place -- things that weren't gifts -- the general rule is NOT "lovers keepers."
On the other hand, these guys argue they want even their gifts back. This can only be described by one word: cheap.
I talked to one young woman who put the issue into perspective: "I mean, if the girl gave her boyfriend a big ticket item, like, a PS2 or something, I don't think he'd give it back to her..."
Agreed. I can't exactly see a guy handing back the stereo system you had installed in his Jeep for Valentine's Day.
So when giving it back is out of the question, here's what the women are saying:
It's the classic lemons and lemonade theory. The love is gone, your credit card bill isn't.
Garage sales, eBay, antique stores, or the pawn shop all will offer you the means to buy yourself a new outfit that'll help snag your next boyfriend!
Give it away.
Female 1: "I gave mine to my sister. Because I don't want to sell it -- I don't really want to know how much it's worth! It doesn't mean anything to her, yet it's still something nice to have."
Trade with friends.
I worked with a girl in Washington last fall whose ex-boyfriend had given her a promise ring sometime during their three-year relationship.
I'll resist the urge to share my thoughts on the stupidity of promise rings, and continue.
It turns out another of her close girlfriends had received a promise ring from her boyfriend. When neither of their relationships lasted, they decided to swap so the rings wouldn't go to waste. After all, who wants to remember a broken promise?
Now she sports a sweet ring free of emotional fall-out.
Let it sit in your jewelry box.
If it's something really nice, you may have trouble parting with it, even if you don't want to wear it.
One gal I chatted with said she keeps a pair of diamond earrings her ex gave to her, but she still sees him around campus sometimes.
"I don't wear them because I wouldn't want him to see me with them on. That would be awkward."
Wear the damn thing.
In my case, because there were no bad feelings at the end of the relationship, I continue to wear my jewelry without any qualms. Seeing it every day doesn't make me all weepy at the thought of old memories -- they just match everything and they make me happy.
But that still doesn't mean my ex is getting his sweatshirt back!