When my first marriage faded into oblivion, the engagement ring I'd worn with such joy and love was banished to my jewelry case. Some years later, older and much wiser, I resurrected the ring and had it re-set by a jeweler friend to reflect my newly discovered independence and style. But back in those days, the sight of those diamonds on my right hand was simply a painful reminder of my failure in the marriage stakes. Now it seems I was ahead of my time. The right-hand baling ring is the latest status symbol for women who no longer feel they have anything to prove.
Women are earning more, marrying later and have more disposable income than ever before, leaving them with plenty of room for a little self-indulgence. And it goes without saying that the newest status symbol should encompass the ultimate status symbol, diamonds. In fact, the trend has become such a major force it's been given its own (albeit lackluster) terminology - "self-purchaser". According to Greg Distefano, a spokesman for the Diamond Information Center at J. Walter Thompson, "The self-purchase market is now a $3.75 billion business in the United States.
Rings are the single largest type in this market. They account for two out of every five pieces of self-purchased jewelry." Eager to get in on the action, DeBeers, the world's largest diamond producer, has produced a series of ads to tap into the hearts and wallets of this enormous, previously ignored, consumer demographic. "Your left hand is your heart. Your right hand is your voice," croons their recent print ads.
"Your left hand says 'I do.' Your right hand says 'I did what?' Your left hand knows the answers. Your right hand asks the questions. Your left hand rocks the cradle; your right hand rules the world. Women of the world, raise your right hand.
" With a market of over 43 million single women in the United States, Rota Fox, a former advertising copywriter, created the "Ah Ring" in December 2000. "Since I was single, I named it The Ah Ring, and decided "Ah" would symbolize being A, available and H, happy. I thought since married women have wedding rings, and engaged women have engagement rings, single women should have a diamond ring they could buy and call their own," says Rota.
The Ah Ring was an instant success, generating over a million dollars in sales in the first year, and was featured in Oprah Winfrey's "O" magazine. Never a group to ignore the latest preoccupation with self- indulgence, celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon and taken the trend for diamond accessorizing to a whole new level. At this year's Oscars 5,000 carats of diamonds strolled the red carpet. Showcasing diamond baubles by jewelry design luminaries like Fred Leighton and Harry Winston, single celebrities Renee Zellweger, Cameron Diaz and Halle Berry shone brighter than the strobe lights. So, what are the top-selling trends in right-hand baling rings? Mondera.
com, a leading online jeweler, suggests colored diamonds are a popular choice, with pink, canary yellow and blue diamonds the biggest sellers. The resurgence of brown diamonds re-named and now cleverly marketed as cognac and champagne diamonds also sell well. Contemporary settings, such as the sleek bezel-set and pave, are popular with singles wishing to avoid the look of the classic round solitaire diamond. And for those who aspire to the cool sophistication of Audrey Hepburn, Tiffany's newly released Lucida setting is the ultimate in baling ring elegance. But for those sassy singles who would have to forego three months' rent to afford a diamond, there are plenty of fabulous alternatives.
For all the baling without the sting, cubic zirconium are made with such precision these days that usually only a jeweler's loupe can spot the difference. From the sublime to the outrageous, the affordability of cubic zirconium means that you can have a different ring to match your outfit and your mood! "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" may well have become the newly revived mantra for the modern 21st century woman, but if you still need an excuse to go out and get yourself some baling, I like to remind myself of the L'Oreal maxim - "Because I'm worth it!".
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