On the Other Hand, Diamonds!

When a woman wears a diamond ring on her left hand, its significance is clear: She’s bound in holy matrimony or about to take the plunge. The custom developed from an ancient legend that a special nerve or vein runs from the fourth finger of the left hand to the heart, and today’s sweethearts are reluctant to buck tradition.

While the left hand is for pledges of betrothal, there’s nothing gauche about wearing a diamond ring on the right hand. For lucky folks born in April, it’s a birthstone ring. For the rest of us, it’s a ring that’s just for fun, one that sparkles at fancy parties and brilliantly reflects attention on the wearer.

Although not matrimonial, right-hand diamond rings nonetheless may be symbolic, particularly those with three stones. “People associate three diamonds with the past, present, and future,” notes Joan Parker, director of the Diamond Information Center. “This may take on even more significance with the coming of the next millennium.”

Right-hand rings can spice up a woman’s jewelry wardrobe, notes Esther Fortunoff of the Fortunoff stores. “We feel that there’s a need for a new product that women can change,” she says. “People want some variety.” These rings are also a way to make a fashion-forward statement, Fortunoff adds. “Engagement rings tend to be a little more classic.”

A ring for the right hand has potential as a woman’s self-purchase item, as well. “The idea of having a ring on the right hand makes a lot of sense for someone who isn’t married,” says Parker.

The right-hand ring is a variant of the cocktail ring, that gaudy ’80s phenomenon with the big rim and the abundant pavé. “The cocktail ring tends to be over the top sometimes; the right-hand ring doesn’t have to do that,” says Lynn Ramsey, president and CEO of the Jewelry Information Center. However, it need not be shy and retiring. In contrast to the minimalism of the recent past, “Rings are becoming more important,” Ramsey says.

Contest encourages variety. DIC noticed that right-hand rings could pique consumers’ interest and made them the focus of its 1999 Diamonds Today contest. “We felt that there was a growing trend,” says Parker. “It seemed to be something that was timely.” A goal of the competition was to inspire designers to create a greater variety of rings to be worn on the right hand.

Contest entrants were asked to design a diamond-intensive ring with a retail value between $2,000 and $25,000 that would be “stylish, timeless, wearable, and salable,” featuring one diamond of at least .50 ct. Diamond quality had to be VS1 or better. Laser-drilled or fracture-filled stones, synthetic diamonds, or diamond simulants could not be used, nor could other gemstones. Judges were Richard Sinnott, accessories editor, Harper’s Bazaar; Carmen Borgonovo, accessories editor, W magazine; Cheryl Pellegrino of the Diamond Information Center; and Esther Fortunoff.

Designers rose to the challenge, dexterously creating imaginative and breathtaking pieces. Of the 75 entries, 20 were selected as winners (shown in the accompanying photographs). They ranged from the simple Microcord design of Jeffrey Beri, Jeffrey Robert Ltd., to the ornate “Volcano” pavé ring of Roberto Coin; from the contemporary solitaire by Robert Lee Morris to the elaborate dragonfly by Morton Silverman for Gene Morton Designs.

“There’s a very broad cross-section of styles there,” says Fortunoff. “They’re fun, and they represent something that might get a woman excited about buying jewelry.”

The winning rings will be on display at the Diamond Promotion Service booth during The JCK Show in Las Vegas this month. Plans for potential future publicity include an exhibition at a retail location. “This is the beginning of a marketing idea that we have been working on,” says DIC’s Parker.

Consumers should take note. After all, even if a right-hand ring doesn’t proclaim, “I’ll love you forever,” it can send an equally important message. Who could argue with a ring that whispers, “I’m so proud of you,” or “You look marvelous”—or “I’ve made it on my own”?