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Would you buy a ring for yourself? Not a piece of costume jewellery, but a serious, investment, peppered-with-diamonds, wear-forever-and-hand-down-to-your-children kind of rock? Because the idea of any strong, independent, ambitious woman pressing her nose longingly against the window of a jeweller’s or patiently dropping hints to her other half about the ring that she hopes they might buy her seems seriously outdated in 2019, doesn’t it? So there’s nothing stopping you from joining the ever-increasing ranks of women who are making like Cardi B or Beyoncé and frosting themselves with impunity.
‘I’ve always bought all my rings myself,’ says New York jewellery designer Jennifer Fisher. ‘I think more and more women are doing that. We’re the ones wearing it every day, so we should choose what we want to wear, right? And, nine times out of ten, if someone buys a ring for you, whether they’re male or female, you’re probably not going to like it as much as one that you’ve chosen for yourself. I remember, before I was with my husband, if I was dating someone and they would give me rings, I would never really wear them. And even when I was getting engaged to my husband, I picked my ring out; it was everything that I wanted, it didn’t really have anything to do with him.’
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‘The assumption that jewellery is something for women but paid for by men is long dead and buried,’ agrees Anna Jewsbury, founder of London jewellery brand Completedworks. ‘Giving gifts will always be a timeless way to show appreciation to someone, and that’s not going away, but women want to be the authors of their own story. Buying your own jewellery is a way to express something personal and build a collection that’s authentic and reflects the journey you’ve taken. I think marking the most important moments in your life [with a ring] is extraordinarily empowering.’
‘A ring is really symbolic,’ says Parisian designer Anissa Kermiche. ‘It lasts forever, it’s not something that you replace and that disappears with a trend, like a handbag.’ She’s right, but the sticking point, of course, is that marriage association – treating yourself to a sparkling necklace or a pair of earrings doesn’t have the same handpicked, will-you-take-this-man overtones of a diamond ring and it can be hard to shake off the old-fashioned feeling that it’s just a little bit… sad to buy your own ring. But the fact that rings are designed to be treasured is just what makes them perfect for immortalising the biggest milestones in your life. And it’s a trend that’s on the rise, with women who are looking for the ultimate token of self-care and self-love joyfully spending piles of their own hard-earned cash on a fine jewelled band to mark everything from landing an incredible new job to having children. So many, in fact, that this piece has its own moniker: the right-hand ring, because often women choose to wear their self-gifted piece on the opposite hand to the traditional ring finger – although, in reality, every digit is up for grabs.
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There’s the price-per-wear calculation to factor in alongside all that empowerment, too. As Jewsbury points out, ‘Women are realising that for all the costume jewellery bought and discarded, they could have bought just one or two investment pieces instead.’ And you don’t have to bankrupt yourself in the process: if you’re starting to build your collection, Kermiche suggests, “Go to an antique shop or market and get something that has history and character. And go for something quite solid – thin rings aren’t that strong and they break easily because they’re so sensitive to the temperature changes on your hands caused by everything from drying your hair to the weather.’
‘I’ve had people buying or commissioning a wedding band to wear for themselves just because they like the ring,’ says Fisher of the pieces that women are gravitating towards. ‘People will have words put on them; sometimes it’s the names of their children, or women who have been through a health issue will put their power word on the ring and wear it on whichever finger they feel is their power finger.’
And, as it happens, Kermiche is taking things into her own hands, quite literally, as we speak. ‘I’m making a ring at the moment for myself,’ she says. ‘I made my own engagement ring and then we broke up and I really miss wearing a big cocktail ring. I was used to wearing dainty pieces and I suddenly missed having this statement piece around my finger, so I decided to make a new cocktail ring with a big stone to wear.’