The Sundial Ring

by Melissa Scoppa October 26, 2017 2 Comments

The Sundial Ring

It is said that ideas will come to you when you are not really looking and that has never been more true for this ring. This idea came in the form of a podcast that I listened to back in April.

In case it isn’t plainly apparent, this ring is inspired by the podcast: S-Town. Most likely you've listened, but in case you haven't I'll quickly summarize. There are minor spoilers here, so I would suggest listening first before continuing.  

The podcast follows the journey of an eccentric antique clock restorer named John B. McLemore who has contacted Brian Reed of This American life in the hopes that he will look into an alleged murder that has taken place in his hometown of Woodstock, Alabama - or as he calls it, Shittown, Alabama. John has many grievances large and small and was disgusted with the goings on within his small town.

The story is complex, beautiful and tragic all at the same time and many of us can identify with John in some way. Regret, missed opportunities, fear of loneliness, and frustration for things that we feel we can’t change are all very real parts of life that we deal with at one point or another and they are themes that crop up in the podcast.

Given my line of work, I initially connected with John’s technical skill and passion for fixing old clocks by hand and his fascination with Horology (the study of time). I had heard of Horology a few years ago while working at a large scale jewelry repair center that also serviced high end watches and clocks. Around that time I also inherited a box of old pocket watches from my great uncle Joe.  All of this sparked my interest.

One of my favorite parts of the story is when Brian connects with one of John’s former chemistry professors who shares with him a Sundial that John made for his birthday. Not only is it a beautiful combination of hand made brass and wooden components but it’s also perfectly functional in accordance to the specific latitude and longitude of the professor’s home. He’s so moved while explaining the one-of-a-kind gift that he’s almost brought to tears.

I have a great appreciation for people like John who have that skill, patience and knowledge to work on watches and clocks. They are getting harder to find as technology replaces many timekeeping devices. I decided that by incorporating a sundial into a piece of my jewelry I could create something showing that admiration. It could also relate to the value of time and what John described as living a “worthwhile life defined”. 

“Take cognizance of the number of waking days he has remaining, and use them prudently.” John B. McLemore

Life is made up of moments in time, some boring, some sad, some unforgettably joyous and everything in between. Everybody is trying to “be more present” in life and I think that is what John is talking about in a small way. There is a point where John is reflecting on his life and despite his dismal demeanor, many of the highlights that he describes are simple and humble moments where he “spent hours entranced by the exquisiteness and delicacy of tiny mosses and molds, entire forests, within a few square inches. I have also ran thrashing and flailing from yellow jackets.”

Throughout the podcast John refers to sundials and explains that they typically have mottos engraved on them that are sad or depressing.

  • “Use the hours, don't count them."
  • "Even as you watch, I'm fleeing."
  • “Tedious and Brief”
I did a little research and though most are sad, I found many that focused more on the appreciation for the time that we are given. One of my favorites is "Omnes æquales sola virtute discrepantes." All hours are the same – they are distinguished only by good deeds. There ended up not being enough room on this ring for such a lengthy motto but it may make an appearance in a future release. 

The top of the ring incorporates a floral pattern similar to the one on the sundial that John made for his professor and Roman numerals are laid out like that of a clock face. The sides are engraved with the hands of a clock and a rose which appropriately comes from "A Rose for Emily", the short story by William Faulkner that John loans to Brian for "bedtime reading". It is also the song that plays at the conclusion of each episode.

I know that so many found S-town to be enlightening for various reasons. With all of John’s gripes and complaints about his small town, or his outrage regarding climate change or politics, he thrived at being a sort of “outsider” and never tried to be someone that he wasn’t. We were able to get inside his mind and experience his struggles, frustrations and motives for why he was the way he was. It is easy to place judgement, but much more difficult to try to try to understand how a person got that way and reach out to them.

“I think trying to understand another person is a worthwhile thing to do.” Brian Reed

Melissa Scoppa
Melissa Scoppa


2 Responses


August 28, 2017

Wow!!! What a beautiful piece of jewelry and how well you have described John B. I’m so glad I’m not the only person who found his life to be something worth trying to understand. You have really shown great honor to John and his professor in making this piece of jewelry. I’ve listened to the podcast three times now and find something new to appreciate each time I listen. I’ll be ordering this very special ring!!!

Ginny Orso
Ginny Orso

August 25, 2017

You are so talented! This is beautiful and I enjoy the “lessons” you share.

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Jewelry Sizing Guides

Necklace Sizing Guide

The length of a necklace affects how it looks when you wear it. Always pay attention to necklace length when you’re purchasing jewelry, and be aware of how different necklace lengths look on you.

Most pendants can not be switched to longer or shorter chains on your own and they would need to be sent in to us for the alteration. They are designed so that the pendant does not fall off of the chain and the bail (part that connects the pendant to the chain) is too small to fit over the clasp and end ring.

We suggest that you measure a necklace that you already have and that is the length that you are looking for. Measurements should be taken from end to end including the clasp.


Ring Sizing Guide

Method #1

To get the most accurate measurement possible we urge you to get professionally sized at a local jewelry store and it that is not possible, pick up one of our Plastic Ring Sizers available in the shop. This sizer gives a pretty accurate measurement and is essentially free since it comes with a 4$ coupon code for a future ring purchase with us.

We also realize that time is of the essence sometimes and/or maybe you have plenty of rings lying around that fit perfect but just can't remember the size. Therefore we have outlined two possible ways for you to measure your ring size using this handy dandy printable PDF.

Please be sure to follow the instructions and double check measurements with a ruler. Printers can be tricky with sizing.


Method #2 - Measure A Ring That Fits

Place your ring over the closest matching sized circle, make sure the inside of the ring fits around the outside of the circle. If you are between sizes, order up.

Method #3 - Measure Your Finger With a Ruler

1 - Get a non-stretchy string or paper about 6" long and 1/4" wide.

2 - Wrap around the base of your finger. It has to fit snug, but not too tight.

3 - Mark the point on the string/paper where it overlaps forming a circle.

4 - Compare the length of the string/paper to the chart. That is your ring size.

*If you are between sizes, order a larger size.

Make sure your finger is at a normal body temperature -- fingers can shrink or expand when cold or hot. If your knuckle is much larger than your finger’s base, take two separate measurements and choose a size in between. You want a ring to fit over your knuckle, but not be too loose or it will shift around.