The Secret Meaning Behind "Right-Hand Rings"

More and more women are celebrating their biggest special moments by adorning their right ring fingers — that is, not their wedding ring finger—with a little special sparkle.

That right-hand ring might look a lot like an engagement diamond. But don't misunderstand: This isn't an "alternative" to an engagement ring, nor is it meant to put down married women. Here's the real scoop: women buy them for themselves to celebrate their independence. The right-hand ring is simply just a celebration of you.

This tradition was popularized by lauded actresses of the mid-century, like Elizabeth Taylor and Natalie Wood, and extended beyond the turn of the millennium. In 2003, De Beers, the the diamond company known for its "A Diamond is Forever" slogan, launched its "Raise Your Right Hand" campaign, encouraging women (both married and unmarried) to purchase expensive stones as a means to express themselves – not to announce an engagement.

 

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Also called "dress" or "cocktail" rings, the ring—and its symbolism—dates back to the 1920s. It was started by the women who drank in the throes of Prohibition (hence the name cocktail ring). For the first time in American history, women were finally free of cumbersome dresses and had entered the workforce and the speakeasies, where they smoked and drank alongside men—the right-hand ring, then, became a symbol of the working woman's earning power.

 

Celestial Orb Ring by Abundance Box 

 

It's not all about the sparkly new stuff, though. Vintage right-hand rings—those purchased by our mothers and grandmothers in the '40s, '50s and '60s—have become parts of legacies and lineages. Women gifted their rings to their daughters as they smashed their own milestones; the rings became a beacon of passing on the torch of female success.

 When in the market for a right-hand ring, you're in "treat yourself" territory. The ring's meaning may change depending on who purchases it. If a husband gives his wife a right-hand ring, it symbolizes a renewal of wedding vows or anniversaries. They may also serve as promise rings for dedicated partners or those taking a vow of chastity.

At the core, these rings serve as a reminder—to yourself and to the people around you —that you've done something impressive and that you are, by definition as a woman, impressive. Sounds like we should all have a few of these beauties in our collections.

Check out our Rings Collection and fall in love with yourself all over again!

 

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Town & Country.
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