NEW YORK — A movement is under way to transform the notion of diamond rings and how women wear them.

The latest product push from the Diamond Trading Co., the sales and marketing arm of De Beers Group, aims to encourage women to don right-hand diamond rings that are big and flashy — and have nothing to do with marriage.

“The days are gone when women are defined by their relationships and only have jewelry selected for them by another person,” said Sally Morrison, director of the Diamond Information Center, the promotional arm of the DTC. “The right-hand ring is all about the idea of self-selection and is consistent with our times.”

Bridal jewelry remains a substantial part of the jewelry industry, accounting for $8.8 billion of overall fine jewelry sales of $43 billion, according to the Jewelry Information Center. Nonetheless, the DTC is always looking for ways to build diamond jewelry sales outside of the bridal realm, especially since many women are marrying later or not at all. At the same time, there has been more interest in bridal jewelry with stones other than diamonds such as sapphires and emeralds, which is likely having a negative effect on sales of traditional bridal rings.

The ad campaigns for the right-hand ring began breaking in September magazine issues and will continue into 2004 as part of a multimillion-dollar advertising and marketing campaign from the DTC. For the first round of advertising, there are three different images that show a stylish woman with a glow coming from her right hand, which is meant to depict a right-hand ring. The Diamond Promotion Service, which works with retailers on promotions, is arming stores with a range of supplies, including educational materials and signs to highlight the right-hand ring.

Designers have heard their call. Throughout the jewelry industry, firms are offering big and bold rings set in platinum or yellow or white gold. While the idea and marketing support for the right-hand ring program is coming from the DTC and is aimed at promoting diamond rings, companies that don’t specialize in diamonds are also presenting their take on the right-hand ring with styles that feature stones such as moissanite or semiprecious gems such as topaz or citrine.Bill Gould, director of marketing for Kwiat, which makes platinum and diamond jewelry, said, “We believe women of the world are looking to reward themselves, whether it’s for a promotion or some other occasion. This is something everyone can embrace and drives home the fact that you don’t have to be married to own a diamond ring. Ultimately, it’s a feel-good purchase.”

Gould noted that the right-hand ring modernizes the concept of a cocktail ring. He added, “Women have two hands and you might as well dress them both.”

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