With This Ring, I Unwed

Last week, Emily Ratajkowski shared on Instagram that she had created a pair of “divorce rings” by remodeling the pear- and princess-cut diamonds from her toi et moi engagement ring into two separate rings. Alison Chemla, a New York-based jeweler and creative director at Alison Lou (who also crafted Ms. Ratajkowski’s original engagement ring), created the new pieces. The post has since received over one million likes.

“Divorce rings are having a moment,” said Sasha Nixon, a New York-based jewelry curator and historian. The trend, one embraced primarily by women, is about breathing life into one’s wedding rings following a split.

Ms. Ratajkowski, whose divorce from the movie producer Sebastian Bear-McClard became final in 2023, hopes to shift the negative assumptions about ending a marriage.

“I would like there to be a perspective that allows space for the fact that leaving a relationship is often a remarkable and brave act,” she said. “I really would like to see single moms — or women starting over for the first time in a terrifying way — find some kind of solace in the idea that they’re not failures for leaving.”

With that in mind, Ms. Chemla said she wanted to create rings that Ms. Ratajkowski would “feel proud of” and that would “make a statement,” describing the process as “collaborative.”

“I wish we honored other major life events with the same respect we reserve for marriage,” said Lauren Boc, a North Carolina-based jeweler and founder of Hera Fine Jewelry. “Leaving a relationship that doesn’t serve you takes courage, and that’s something worth commemorating.”

For her summer 2023 wedding, Ms. Boc, 35, designed a right-hand ring for the ceremony engraved with “damn, she’s the one,” a lyric from Lizzo’s song “Soulmate,” on the inside. “I liked having a reminder that I couldn’t be a good partner if I didn’t have a good relationship with myself,” she said.

After her husband asked for a divorce in October 2023, she decided to make a new ring: an 18k yellow gold signet-inspired ring with a four-carat Asscher-cut lab-grown diamond that would “center my relationship with myself,” Ms. Boc said. She added that requests for post-breakup jewelry have increased by 300 percent since she started posting about her own divorce ring on social media in fall 2023. Custom ring settings start at $2600.

When Katherine Pokorny’s divorce became final in the summer of 2021, she had already been in touch with Ali Galgano of Serpentine Jewels about transforming her engagement ring into a divorce ring. “Repurposing jewelry from past boyfriends and lovers has rarely been public-facing, but we are seeing a shift in which women are reclaiming their power everywhere,” said Ms. Galgano, a jeweler based in Greenwich, Conn. “I saw a significant increase in this last year, where we did triple the number of divorce ring resets as in 2022. Before 2020, this concept wasn’t even on our clients’ radars.”

Ms. Pokorny, a public relations consultant in Aspen, Colo., wanted a toi-et-moi style, pairing an emerald stone with her original emerald-cut diamond. “This project gave new meaning to the term retail therapy,” joked Ms. Pokorny, who also marked her separation by buying a 1991 Mitsubishi Montero, a car she’d always wanted but that her ex-husband had deemed unsafe. “The diamond represents a ten-year period in my life, and the emerald, my birthstone, is a reminder that I’m capable of saving myself.”

Historically, divorce rings were “mournful jewels,” said Rachel Church, an author and the former jewelry curator at the Victoria & Albert museum in London. The style was meant to send a social signal, “letting people know not to inquire about your husband or to show that you weren’t an unmarried mother,” she added. But modern iterations lack “any hint of mourning,” said Ms. Church. “There isn’t the same need to identify yourself as divorced in that way.”

Stephanie Gottlieb, a New York-based jewelry designer, explained that the meaning of a divorce ring today depends on how the marriage in question ended. “For some, the new ring is an act of rebellion, while, for others, it honors the old and new all at once,” she said, adding that designing divorce rings has become a consistent part of her business. For one client, she created a divorce ring with black diamonds because it “felt like the antithesis of a bridal piece.” For another, Ms. Gottlieb used the client’s birthstone to symbolize a “gift to self.” In others, Ms. Gottlieb has incorporated a client’s child’s birthstone as a “nod to the family life she’s built.” A simple ring reset starts at around $3,000.

To make divorce rings less engagement-like, Judith Hoetker, 50, the head goldsmith at Reinstein Ross, recommends changing the ring completely: playing with the proportions of the ring band, adding more stones to the ring to take the emphasis off the original diamond, swapping the finger or hand on which the ring is worn (some say a middle finger is fitting), incorporating color, or choosing a new style. Ms. Hoetker has seen a 25 percent increase in divorce rings between 2023 and 2024. Redesigned wedding bands start at $1000, while engagement rings start at $5000.

Madison Snider, 31, the founder and chief executive of Fewer Finer, a jewelry brand, restyled a client’s classic solitaire diamond ring into an evil eye-shaped signet ring, with the diamond in its center, to mark the client’s divorce. Inside the ring, Ms. Snider engraved the word ‘badass,’ which she said is how the client felt after the transformation.

“Breaking the association from the original ring is important,” said Rachel Boston, a London-based jeweler. “Turning it into a completely different type of jewelry is a great way to do this. Emily Ratajkowski’s original toi-et-moi ring was hugely popular, and these new rings will no doubt be equally influential.”

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