January 07, 2004

Right Hand Green

Speaking of rings, there has been a lot of publicity recently about "right-hand rings." It seems single women these days aren't waiting for men to come into their lives with an engagement ring and have taken to buying special diamond rings to wear on their right hands.

Treating yourself to something special is a great idea, but what makes a ring a "right-hand ring"? Marketers would have single women believe there are special designs, jewel arrangements and engravings that give these rings special significance. Baloney. Isn't any ring a "right-hand ring" once you put it on your right hand? Can't a bracelet become and anklet when worn on the ankle? (Then again, putting my pants on my head doesn't necessarily make them a hat, as L and the local police keep reminding me.)

Some women are now convincing themselves they need a right-hand ring when with a little creativity and less money they could buy just about any type of ring and - follow me closely here - put them on their right hands.

Ladies, you are being manipulated. I know what you might be thinking: "But so are the women who pine for "left-hand" engagement rings and the men who spend months of their salary to buy them." I would agree with you and I've made it clear on this site that I think the wedding industry preys on the fears of engaged couples in general and women specifically. But you are being manipulated nonetheless.

A recent New York Times article explains that the jump in "right-hand ring" sales is all part of a marketing ploy concocted by the diamond industry to respond to a dip in diamond sales overall. Noticing a lucrative market - the growing class of successful and financially stable single women - companies like DeBeers saw their customers like Harold Hill saw the citizens of River City, Iowa. They even came up with an empowering ad campaign:


Here's a question: what happens if you wear a right hand ring on your left hand? Do the ring boxes come with instructions on the back? "Warning! For Use With Right Hands Only!"

But I digress. If you want to go out and buy a present for yourself, fine. Everyone does that once in a while. And if you want that present to be an expensive diamond ring, why not? No one needs a man to own a diamond. But don't buy into the hype. Remember: a kid with a sign that says "gourmet lemon-enhanced sweetened beverages" is still selling lemonade. He just might be able to charge a little more than ten cents a cup.

Posted by The Groom at January 7, 2004 10:01 AM

My fiance and I were talking about this not to long ago. There is an old Scandanavian tradition where a woman recieves a ring for engagement, marriage, and the birth of the first child. I think a diamond exec heard about this and figured it was a great idea to capitalize on - but let's not wait until the first child. I told my fiance I felt terrible for him. He was expected to buy me an engagement ring - but that isn't enough. Then he needs to buy my a wedding band, and now that isn't enough either. And what does he get? A plain gold band.......

Posted by: Malinda at January 7, 2004 01:27 PM

Yeah -- I'm both curious about this, because it recognizes that women can buy their own rings, thank you very much, and appalled by it, because despite the seemingly independent, feminist nature of the right hand ring, every ad I've seen shows a woman with a right hand ring AND a wedding or engagement band on her left hand. By coincidence, I'm buying a diamond ring from a friend of mine who sells antique jewelry. I'm calling it my birthday-present-to-myself ring. I will wear it on whichever hand/finger it fits the best!

Posted by: the other L at January 7, 2004 01:31 PM

Hmm...I've been wearing rings--amber rings, silver rings, etc.--on my right hand for years. Do I get a prize for being ahead of the trend? Or am I only truly empowered if I buy a diamond?


And that ring in the USA Today article--U.G.L.Y.

Posted by: ChgoRed at January 7, 2004 01:44 PM

I have never understood these trends, it puts a lot of pressure on some people. The first thing people ask when you say you got engaged is "oh let me see the ring!" Well God forbid if it isn't a huge rock.

Posted by: Kim at January 7, 2004 02:45 PM

In Serbian Orthodoxy married women wear their ring on their right hand and to wear a band or diamond on your right hand would be very bad luck.
In fact supersition says that if you do, you'll never get married.
But, hey you might have to be Serbian Orthodox for that shit to stick.

Posted by: radmila at January 7, 2004 11:13 PM

I want a middle finger ring.

Posted by: Abigail at January 20, 2004 01:24 PM

I know. You can email me directly using the link on the home page.

Posted by: The Groom at January 23, 2004 10:28 AM

The liberated single women of the world wouldn't want to wear a diamond on their left hands, because then boys would think they were already engaged and they would lose their chances for the "real" thing, don't-cha-know?
It's the Serbian Orthodoxy curse backwards.
But whoops! I'm a dyke and I wear my wedding ring on my right hand.
So maybe I should get a left-hand ring?
Help, DeBeers! I'm so confused about how many diamonds I need and where to display them!

Posted by: shannon at February 7, 2004 12:36 AM