Valentino Shoes here

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Samantha Leal is the online editor for Her writing has appeared on,, and Catch her stream of tweets Valentino Shoes here.

I never much liked being born in the dead of winter. Growing up in the lake-effect-snow-ridden Midwest, this meant no pool parties, no outdoor picnics, and the definite possibility that your friends won\u2019t make it to your party due to a massive snowstorm.

But birthday candles continued to be wished on, and I continued to grow older.

Being the girly girl I always was, once I found out that a gem was associated with your birth month, I was totally on board with the idea of birthstones. My older sister, born in March, got the coolest stone \u2014 aquamarine; the dazzling green-blue gem was the prettiest thing I had ever seen. I mean, the name itself conjured up images of princesses and mermaids. I couldn\u2019t wait to find out what \u201cgarnet\u201d meant. Would it be pink? Please, God, let it be pink.

When I saw garnet for the first time, I was less than impressed. \u201cIt looks like frozen Coca-Cola!\u201d I wailed, examining the brown-tinted, red stone that, I figured, was a representation of me in gem-form. What else is a 7-year-old to think?

So, that was that. As friends and family gifted me with Coca-Cola rings, they inevitably found themselves in jewelry purgatory: the Beauty and the Beast jewelry box with a spinning Belle.

It wasn\u2019t until I was in high school that I came to appreciate my birthstone. And, of course, the change in heart stemmed from one of the women I admired most in life: my Mamaw. My grandmother was a stubborn, quirky Southern woman with a heart of gold. She married Papaw when she was 15 and had but four pieces of precious jewelry: her wedding ring, her engagement ring, an anniversary ring, and her birthstone. Hers was also garnet, though if she had been born one day later it would have been amethyst.

My family didn\u2019t come from a lot of money. The \u201cgood\u201d jewelry came from places that one might only dream of: the local jewelry shop. Marshall Field\u2019s. Avon. So, when you had a \u201creal\u201d ring (not the cheapies you get

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