Most people can point to their favorite item of jewelry: Elizabeth Taylor had her La Peregrina pearl. Jennifer Lopez might mention the Foundrae charms and necklaces she received from beau Ben Affleck. These pieces range from the extreme to the sentimental.
Shea Hicks-Whitfield of HGTV’s Bargain Block renovation television show leans toward the sentimental. Hicks-Whitfield says she loves jewelry of all styles, frequently buying herself something special to commemorate key life moments. Other important pieces have come from family or friends. But her favorite things to wear tend to be gifted by her husband, Terry.
Hicks-Whitfield, who is running from home to home right now as Bargain Block starts filming its second season, says that, naturally, she loves her engagement ring and wedding band. But the most endearing item from her husband is a simple ring in the shape of a knot—something Terry didn’t know at the time was symbolic for his wife.
Her passion for that shape and what it symbolizes started young. “The love knot is really special to me because my first expensive pair of earrings were love knots that my mom got me in first grade,” Hicks-Whitfield says. “I wore them every day until I lost one in fifth or sixth grade.”
When Hicks-Whitfield could afford to buy her own jewelry, one of her first purchases was—you guessed it—a love-knot ring.
“I splurged at Hudson’s [a department store in Detroit, where Hicks-Whitfield lives] and bought a white gold diamond love knot,” Hicks-Whitfield recalls. “But I lost that one as well!”
About four years ago, Terry surprised her on their second Christmas as a married couple with a new love-knot ring. Hicks-Whitfield admits she doesn’t know where he got it or who made it. It might have some diamond chips on it, she thinks.
What she does know about it is the intention behind the gift. The ring was a reminder of their wedding day, when it rained seemingly nonstop during what Hicks-Whitfield believed was supposed to be one of the most perfect days of her life.
Rather than focus on the negative, the couple decided to spin the situation into something special.
“Rain on your wedding day is good luck because it signifies that your marriage will last,” Hicks-Whitfield says. “As you know, a knot that becomes wet is extremely hard to untie. Therefore, when you ‘tie the knot’ on a rainy day, your marriage is supposedly just as hard to unravel.”
Terry bought the love-knot ring to remind her of that promise they made to each other—that their marriage would last forever. At that time, they had been through a rough couple of years, including a house fire. Hicks-Whitfield admits she cried when her husband gave her the ring, mostly because he had no idea that the knot was meaningful to her. He simply wanted to give her something that she could wear daily to be reminded of their commitment to each other, no matter what the weather.
“He is the sweetest, most thoughtful human being I’ve met in my entire life,” Hicks-Whitfield says.
Like the old saying goes, third time’s the charm. Hicks-Whitfield says she wears the ring almost every day. And she hasn’t lost it, even running around on set.
In September, HGTV picked up 10 new one-hour episodes of Bargain Block, which stars Hicks-Whitfield as the real estate guru alongside home-renovation experts Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas. In its freshman season, the series attracted more than 20.2 million viewers, according to HGTV.
In each episode, Bynum and Thomas fulfill their dream of restoring some of Detroit’s neighborhoods one house at a time. Hicks-Whitfield, a lifetime Detroit resident, works with them to identify and buy as many rundown houses as they can on a single block. They then renovate those houses into appealing homes that are still affordable enough for buyers within the community. The new season is slated to premiere in summer 2022.
This is Whitfield’s first work on camera, for an HGTV program or any reality TV show. Before this, she was known locally for creating videos for other realtors and her own social media accounts. Her casting on Bargain Block happened when she met Bynum and Thomas as they started renovating Detroit homes in 2017.
What makes the show stand out beyond its concept is the fact that Hicks-Whitfield occupies as much of the stage as the hosts. Hicks-Whitfield says she is excited to represent Detroit and to work with genuine people such as Bynum and Thomas.
“That chemistry you see? That’s how we are, even when the cameras aren’t rolling,” she says. “We laugh a lot. That’s our real life.”
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