Diamonds are forever

For years women wore diamonds only on that special finger. Jewelers now seek to adorn the right hand.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:38 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Today women are becoming more independent, and the newest trend in ladies’ jewelry is just further proof.

Thanks to the introduction of the right-hand diamond ring, engaged and married women are no longer the only ones who sport flashy diamond rings.

Mary Breshears, who works at Gordon’s Jewelers, is one woman who has taken advantage of this trend.

“I liked the right-hand rings, and I wanted one,” Breshears said. “I have a really sweet boyfriend, but he doesn’t believe in purchasing jewelry.

“I don’t think it has to be from a man. You can buy it for yourself.”

A national advertising campaign known as “Women of the World, Raise Your Right Hand” was launched in September of last year and focuses on the growing independence of women.

The advertisements, which

were produced by the diamond company DeBeers, play on the difference between the traditional diamond engagement ring and the new diamond ring that women can wear on their right hands.

While the diamond engagement ring symbolizes commitment, the right-hand ring shows independence.

Gary Robinson of Gary B. Robinson Jewelers in Columbia said promotions like this one are not uncommon for DeBeers.

“DeBeers says they’re having a promotion, they go to designers, and ask them to submit designs,” he said. “If your design is picked, they’ll advertise it, and you get publicity, and it drives sales.”

This campaign was much the same.

“The promotion was mostly in print,” Robinson said. “There were 25 or 30 rings featured in the whole collection.”

Slogans used in the campaign such as, “Your left hand says ‘we’. Your right hand says ‘me,’” were featured in many leading fashion magazines.

The meaning behind the rings is not the only difference, however. The diamonds on the traditional engagement ring are normally positioned across the fingers in an east-west position or have a solitaire diamond.

“Right-hand diamond rings are not solitaire form,” Breshears said. “They have several small stones.”

The diamonds are placed in a north-south position up and down the finger and come in several elaborate designs, such as floral, romantic, modern vintage and contemporary.

“Engagement rings and the right-hand diamond ring don’t look alike at all,” said Terri Edwards of Hurst Fine Diamonds in Columbia. “The right-hand diamond ring is more flat and spread out. It’s level to the hand.”

Many jewelry stores in Columbia now carry the right-hand ring collection. Gordon Jewelers has found it to be quite popular, and women aren’t the only customers.

“Men are buying them for their wives, especially back at Christmas,” said Breshears. “But a few women have bought them for themselves.”

Edwards said Hurst Fine Diamonds hasn’t had as much demand for the new ring, but he did find that men tend to be doing more of the buying.

“Older men are buying them for their wives,” she said.

Although it’s the men that seem to be doing a majority of the buying, Robinson feels the demand for the ring is driven by women.

“Men come in and say their wife or girlfriend wants one,” Robinson said. “More women than men are aware of the promotion.”

One of the best aspects of the right-hand diamond ring is that they tend to be less expensive than a diamond engagement ring.

“Fourteen hundred dollars is one of our more expensive ones,” said Breshears. “But on average they are less expensive than engagement rings.”

Popularity is growing, further encouraged by Hollywood, taking the trend beyond the Columbia area.

Celebrities such as Halle Berry, Sarah-Jessica Parker and Julia Roberts have been spotted wearing the new right-hand ring, adding to its popularity.

“It’s something different,” Breshears said. “They make it OK for a woman to buy a diamond for themselves instead of waiting for a man.”

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