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  • Our life as a couple got off an unusual start. The story is too long, too wild, and too romantic to relate: let's focus on Italy.

    Nina had been married to a Cambodian man. Suffice to say, it went badly. He abused her, abandoned her, and eventually was convicted as the first criminal adulterer in Cambodia's history. But Nina needed a legal divorce, and had spent years dealing with the black hole of Cambodia's court system. There was no telling when the courts would grant the divorce.

    Because Nina and I had been thousands of miles apart in frustration for so long, we went ahead and made rings for each other. We fantasized they would come in handy one day.

    Early August of 2006 brought us to Germany for a friend's wedding. Nina flew from Cambodia; I flew from Cambridge; we met (more or less) in Würtzburg. The wedding was beautiful, the parties left everyone giddy, and loving.

    After that it was easy. Cambodian divorce courts too slow? No problem. We decided to elope. A flight to Marco Polo airport, a water taxi to Venice... and when we arrived at our balcony suite at the Danieli hotel, the bellman brought up champagne and a gorgeous bouquet of white roses and lilies... with a card. I had nearly forgotten: I told one friend, whom I trusted completely, that we were eloping. Just in case. He figured out where, and when, and managed to send the flowers.

    We sipped champagne on the balcony, overlooking the Grand Canal. There was a wedding party, dressed to the nines, posing for photographers below.

    That night, under a dazzling full moon, we kissed beneath a street light in San Marco piazza — and lucky thing, we had rings handy. The ring she had made me was a platinum band with an elephant's hair woven through it, a Cambodian symbol of love, blessed by a monk. I'd also picked platinum for hers, with a beautiful, blood red Cambodian ruby and a pair of small diamonds buttressing it. I designed it with Ron Winston, who made it at Harry Winston.

    It took a few more years for the divorce to clear before we were able to tie the knot legally. But every time I think of Venice, I get tears in my eyes.
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