What Is It, Precious?
The second time Laurel and Tamani meet, he gives her something to remember him by, a tiny ring: "It was a shining gold circlet, just bigger than a pea, with a miniscule crystal flower on the top" (14.263). It's pretty and sparkly, and as Laurel sees when she examines it closer, "exquisite, beautiful in every detail" (14.265).
Tamani explains what it is: "It's a ring for a seedling [… ] You know, a baby faerie. Every seedling gets a ring when they are young. If you wear it, it grows with you. Winter faeries make them. Well, Spring faeries make them, but Winter faeries enchant them" (14.264). Tamani shows Laurel his ring, which he wears on one of his fingers, since apparently they really do grow along with you if you wear yours from the time you're a seedling.
Laurel puts this ring on a necklace and wears it, touching it and thinking of Tamani even when she's back in the human world. So at first the ring works as an image that evokes Tamani and her faerie heritage for her.
A Ring of Lies
However, there's more to the ring than meets the eye. At first, Laurel accepts Tamani's explanation when she asks why he's giving it to her and he says, "To help you feel more like one of us […] I just think you should have it" (14.266). This sounds nice and all, but if every ring comes from a baby faerie, then whose ring was this?
Laurel's smart enough to put two and two together, but we're guessing she's off her game recently. It's got to be pretty unsettling to find out that you're not human like you thought you were. But since the faeries kept her true nature from her for the last decade plus, we kind of think they might be keeping other secrets from her. And yet she doesn't ask Tamani who the ring belonged to, and instead just takes it and wears it.
The truth about the ring all comes out in the very end of the book, when Tamani and Laurel have their final conversation before she returns to the human world to stay, at least for a while. He tells her:
I lied—about the ring, I mean […] I didn't just give you a random ring. It was yours. You gave it to me to keep until the time came to return it to you. You thought—you hoped—it might help you remember your life before you came here […] Obviously it didn't work, but I promised you I'd try. (25.75)
Yup—the ring is Laurel's. It stopped growing because she left the land of faerie, and its size represents this development in her life. We know from folklore to be wary of gifts from fairies, but Tamani's deception really makes us think twice. If he has tricked Laurel about the ring, what else might he have deceived her about? Since Tamani is her main link to the faerie world at this point, the ring comes to represent a less certain relationship between Laurel and this part of herself.