Engagement rings get all the attention if those super-adorable Facebook announcements are any indication. But if you're wondering why so many right-hand rings have been popping up as of late, it's because for many single women back here in the real world, putting an engagement ring on it isn't even on the radar. Not even close.
As Rebecca Traister covers in her 2016 book All the Single Ladies, singledom has gone from being a burden to being an honor, as numbers of single women have risen dramatically. There are more single gals than ever before, marking this "rise of an independent nation" that Traister speaks of. While this may have big ripple effects in the social, political and economic arenas, the new "single majority" is also changing the way we date, relate, work and even dress as women.
Though it may seem simple, wearing a right-hand ring speaks volumes if you are a woman who is unattached. Challenging the traditional marital symbol with a ring on the right hand has become a way for many women to take back their independence while still underscoring their worth.
A symbolic accessory
Many women enjoy their right-hand rings even more than traditional engagement rings because they can be a bold reflection of a personal fashion aesthetic.
If you're uncertain about whether or not a right-hand ring is for you, rest assured that all women — single or not — can benefit from a little right-handed bling. "A right-hand ring is a symbol to commemorate a special life event, like an achievement or birthday, or to project success and personal style," says Julie Yoakum, chief merchandising officer at Blue Nile. "Right-hand rings can be subtle or bold, and they're often chosen to echo a favorite design style."
Although a right-hand ring is appropriate for both the single and married, many single women opt for a stunning right-hand ring because they don't want to postpone a dazzling diamond while they're waiting for Mr. Right. For this reason, right-hand rings are often seen as the battle cry of single and successful women.
Finding a right-hand ring that works for you
The beauty of the right-hand ring is that there are no rules for its design. A woman can choose a simple and inexpensive right-hand ring, or she can spend her entire life savings on an eye-popping diamond setting. However, before making a significant jewelry investment, consider the following inspirations for a right-hand sparkler.
- Birthstones — Many women choose to stun with a right-hand setting that features their birthstone. Quite often, the gemstone is big and bold and set with diamonds or white sapphires around its edges. A right-hand ring inspired by a birthstone can project that a woman is happy to be alive and proud to be who she is.
- Cocktail conversation pieces — For women who like to change their style frequently, it may make sense to pick a cocktail ring that won't break the bank. Cocktail rings are trendy and visually interesting, and they usually feature stones that aren't quite as pricey as diamonds or gems.
- Exciting achievements — Sometimes, women reserve their right-hand ring fingers for a ring that celebrates a milestone anniversary or a major success in the office. These rings often feature large diamonds in a unique setting to set the piece apart from an engagement ring.
- Celebrating singleness — Whether it makes sense or not, milestone birthdays sometimes feel disappointing to women if they remain romantically unattached. Many women approaching their 30th or 40th birthday, or perhaps facing their first birthday following a divorce, may choose to celebrate themselves with a flashy diamond ring to signify that they're making it on their own and that they don't need a man to enjoy beautiful jewelry.
Originally published November 2013. Updated September 2016.