Getting Divorced? Get a New Ring
“Dear Abby” Answer Shares New Jewelry Trend — A Divorce Ring — to Mark New Life
Harold Thompson had a rough year in 2001. His second wife left, he got laid off from his job inspecting fiber-optic cables for Corning, and he was drowning in bills. While he waited for a better opportunity, he took a job at WalMart to keep the wolf from the door.
When former co-worker Mary Burden came in to do some shopping, she ran into Thompson. Burden had also been laid off from Corning and as they commiserated about their layoffs and his divorce, Burden told Thompson about an idea she’d had but never followed up on. “They have rings to mark the engagement and rings to mark the marriage, but none for the divorce. Why not?” she asked.
Married the first time for seven years and the second time for 10 years, Thompson knew firsthand the pain of a breakup and the relief that follows when a really bad relationship is finally over. So, he immediately got how affirming it might be to wear something that symbolizes surviving the separation and divorce wars. Thompson had tinkered around with jewelry for years and he’d taken some art and drafting courses.So, a design instantly came to mind that would highlight the signature events of a failed relationship. That night, he went home and came up with the first draft of the “Divorced Ring.”
That early design had three bands — one to symbolize the year the couple met, one for the year they married, and one for the year they separated. Unlike the traditional wedding band that is a never ending circle symbolizing unending love, the Divorced Ring had a break in the middle. In that first design, the ex-spouse’s birthstone was on one side of the divide and your birthstone was on the other. “Not many people liked that idea. So, I decided to go with no stones at all,” Thompson said.
A friend at Corning whose family owned a jewelry business in Philadelphia called his brother about the idea. When the brother said he was excited about design, Thompson flew to Philly and delivered the blueprints. Soon, he and Burden had the prototype ring.
For the first few years, D Jewelry Company was a hobby. After all, who’d ever heard of a divorce ring? With a shoestring budget for promotion, Thompson and Burden depended on their Website
www.divorcedjewelryco.com and word of mouth to market the rings. Word did get out, especially in online chatrooms where the newly divorced talked about how good the ring made them feel.
With the divorce rate at 41 percent and the U. S. Surgeon General, reporting that about 30 to 40 percent of those undergoing divorce experience a significant increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety, the newly divorced are a significant marketing niche for a product that symbolizes a new beginning.
Still, Thompson is quick to admit not everyone is jazzed about the concept. He received an e-mail from a teacher who thought it was a bad idea that might promote divorce. “I e-mailed back that some women go to sleep every night in fear that something could happen to them. I tried to get him to understand the sense of freedom people feel. The ring is a way to say I survived the drinking, the fighting, the affair, etc.,” Thompson said.
Customers wanting to proclaim their new identity have a choice of three Divorced Ring designs: a 14K yellow gold and 14K white gold ring; a 14K yellow gold ring with sterling silver; and a sterling and gold plated ring. Prices range from $159.95 to $399.95. There is also a line of “Divorced Happens” and “Divorced and Loving It” apparel.
Burden had lost her parents and two younger brothers early in life and Thompson had lost his parents and younger sister at an early age. So, they took the concept of memorializing the departure of a loved one a step further and developed the Memory Ring for people who’ve lost a loved one to an untimely death. The Memory Ring is half 14K gold and half 14K white gold with a mourning band on one side of the ring. Like the Divorced Ring, the circle is broken to show you have been separated from a loved one.
The ring comes with two birthstones — one for the month your loved one was born and one for the month they passed. Multiple stones can be inserted to represent multiple loved ones (mother/father, sister/brother). They will engrave the inside of the rings at the customer’s request with the month and year of birth and death and the loved one’s initials. Burden wears hers on her left forefinger. Thompson wears his ring on his left middle finger.
“People began to see the rings and ask questions about them,” said Thompson. “They wondered why wasn’t this done before and began to order Memory Rings for themselves. One lady told us ‘When a close friend has a death in the family, you want to give them something. This is a gift that says it all’.
Business for both the Memory Ring and the Divorce Ring has been sporadic with a ring selling here and there. But, the e-mails and phone calls have been pouring in since April 19, 2008, when DIVORCING AND LOVING IT IN NORTH CAROLINA wrote into Dear Abby saying that after she discovered her husband was having an affair, she’d pawned her wedding band and engagement ring.
“The clerk asked if I was going to buy a divorce ring. I had never heard of one. I searched online, found a nice one, ordered it, and wear it proudly,” DIVORCING wrote. However, the ex and his parents were livid. “They say I am poking fun at him and accuse me of ‘promoting divorce.’ My friends and oldest daughter think it’s cool. Some of my divorced friends have ordered rings, too. The ring is different in design, beautiful, makes me feel good and shows my independence. Should I feel guilty for wearing an identity ring like this?”
Abby’s response: “No, you should not. The next time Cooper and his parents accuse you of ‘promoting divorce,’ remind them that it was Cooper who promoted divorce by openly cheating on you. If the ring brings you pleasure — and comfort — then enjoy it.”
“The ring isn’t for everyone,” said Thompson, “but a lot of people are in denial and really hurting in the early stages of their divorce. After awhile they get over it. They just want to show their new status. This kind of ring is a tool to for them to accept the divorce for what it is and move on and> start getting happy again.”