Sep. 2, 2011 at 9:45 AM ET
By Chiara Atik
Imagine: a man bent on one knee, gazing up into the eyes of a teary-eyed woman. He takes out a velvet jewelry box, opens it, and she gasps. Inside is a diamond ring in the shape of a broken heart.
"Darling... will you divorce me?"
This backwards scenario may not be as implausible as you think: Alice Kwartler Antiques is now selling an 18-karat gold and diamond "divorce ring", complete with a solitaire and jagged broken heart. At $3,200, the ring might cost more than many people's wedding bands, but rather than a symbol of eternal love and commitment, this one's a symbol of "things didn't quite work out."
Using rings as a symbol of marital status can be traced back to ancient times, long before anything other than "death doing you part" was an option. In the modern era, there are three marital statuses: single, married, and divorced. If the whole thing started with a ring, why shouldn't it end with one?
The divorce ring certainly seems like it would be effective in acting as a quick visual clue to let friends and acquaintances know a marriage ended, thus saving a divorced woman the burden of having to laboriously inform everyone she knows. And those who go through particularly painful or drawn-out divorces might use the ring as a sort of "This is what you're in for" alert to potential suitors: "Yes, I'm single, but I might come with baggage."
Still, others might opt to purchase a similar ring for themselves as a symbol of conquering heartbreak. In the Kwartler ring, for example, the diamond is bursting through the broken heart, as if casting off a shell or cocoon. This same spirit of starting over again is what prompts some women to throw divorce parties, or go on "divorcemoons". There's obviously some sort of need for women to reclaim these rituals in the wake of a marriage gone bad, or maybe in an effort to "retrace their steps" backwards to return to singledom. [via]
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