"The Sentiment of Style" is a recurring series based on the notion that the most treasured things we own -- our homes, clothing, jewelry, art and accessories -- are objects of equal intimacy to us as our friends, family and mentors. Whether we realize it or not, these items tell stories. Those we keep the longest, and miss the most once they're gone, have the best tales to tell.
"JUST GIVE IT AWAY" is advice I often dispense. People think I'm being flip, but I'm entirely sincere. It's a personal recycling program of sorts -- but it has less to do with green and blue bins than with handing things off to live new lives elsewhere.
Clients frequently ask me how they can sell possessions they no longer want; 1stDibs.com has made everyone believe they can get top dollar for the things they hang onto but would rather relinquish. I'm the worst person to ask -- not because I discount the value of things but because I think it's much more engaging to give belongings to someone I know and see how they'll use them. I've done this for as long as I can remember, and I do it for one reason: I find extraordinary pleasure in this approach. (I am not, admittedly, giving away a Goya or anything worth a great deal of money.)
I wear stacks of rings on my fingers. One of the first I ever bought was a 22-karat gold band with a stamp that noted it was English and had been given as a gift in 1904. I loved it. It was heavy, perfectly proportioned, beautifully worn and weathered. It glowed with a warmth that only a ring of its age could. Well into building what became my first stack, I purchased two new bands and found there wasn't enough space below my knuckle to accommodate them all. I slipped the two new rings on, and slid off the one I loved -- solely because it was, by far, the widest band I owned. I put it in my purse and went to meet a friend for lunch.
Explaining my conundrum, I showed my friend the new rings and the one in my purse. She beamed at the one I had removed: "Ohhh," she exhaled. "I've always loved that one." She wasn't intimating anything; she was simply acknowledging my problem. Still, struck by her response, impulsively I gave her the unworn ring.
Oh, my God, I thought. What had I done? I could have simply shifted the rings around. But what was done was done -- or so I thought.
My friend has ridiculously small fingers, and needed to have the ring resized. When she did, she took the remnant from the ring and a gold earring of her own then had the two forged the two into a new ring, which she gave to me. Now that's recycling.
So the next time you look at that errant chair or another household item and think "Craigslist," hold on. Take a moment to do a mental audit of your friends' homes, then offer it to someone for what it is: something you think they might like. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the response.