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    Divorce rings are still on the rise — long after Emily Ratajkowski’s viral Instagram post

    Emily Baxter-Priest

    Why post-separation jewellery is now a status symbol and the jewellery designers helping craft new beginnings

    When American actress Emily Ratajkowski shared pictures of her new ‘Divorce Rings’ with her 30 million followers on Instagram, following a split from then-husband Sebastian Bear-McClard, the impact went far beyond a simple Instagrammable moment. Rather, it captured the zeitgeist of women who, after a separation, are reclaiming their independence. Owning it, celebrating it. 

    How? By transforming old wedding bands and engagement rings into something new and, in doing so, creating new memories out of old. 

    “There is such power in taking something old, unworn, or something that doesn’t have the best memories, and giving it new life,” says Alison Chemla, the designer behind Alison Lou, who Ratajkowski entrusted to first design her engagement ring and then transform it into a pair of divorce rings.
    “I wanted her to feel empowered when she wore the new rings,” Lou says of the original pear and princess-cut diamonds that she remodelled into a new pinky ring and a second with two trapezoid stones on either side. She goes on to add that she wanted the pieces to “serve as a reminder of how strong of a woman she [Ratajkowski] is”.

    Noor Yahya’s divorce ring designed by Donna Hourani.
    Noor Yahya’s divorce ring designed by Donna Hourani. Image: Supplied

    While the actress may have catapulted the #divorcering hashtag into the stratosphere, jewellers have long been transforming old jewellery for women looking to ‘start over’.

    Lebanese jewellers Dima and Tina Nawbar, of L’Atelier Nawbar, say that this trend of transforming wedding rings is a reflection of the evolving relationship people have with jewellery and the stories they carry. “Many clients who come to us with their divorce rings are seeking to breathe new life into a symbol of their past while embracing a fresh chapter in their lives," they say. “Our aim is to ensure each new piece reflects the individual’s story and resonates with their present moment, empowering them to embrace the future whilst cherishing the past.”

    Empowering women through jewellery has its roots sown in history – especially in Middle Eastern culture, in which women’s jewellery has long been seen as a status symbol of wealth, beauty and security. “I believe jewellery is not just about adornment, but also a powerful tool to tell unique stories and reflect personal journeys,” says Jude Benhalim, the Cairo-based designer with her eponymous jewellery brand. “I’m thrilled to see the emergence of divorce rings as a powerful trend, as they symbolise not only the end of a chapter, but also the beginning of a new one. We want to help women reclaim their independence, express their individuality as they honour their own narratives and find beauty in their personal evolution.”

    Diamond ring, Clean slate.
    Clean slate ring. Image: Supplied

    One designer who has been helping friends and clients transform unwanted wedding rings into new purposeful pieces is Donna Hourani. Collaborating closely with the client on each stage of the redesign, she’s able to create something that reflects the individual’s journey of resilience. “The more the client feels comfortable sharing with me about the relationship, the more meaningful the new piece ends up,” the Lebanese jeweller explains of the design process. “Divorce rings really represent a transformation of past pain into strength. My clients seek to turn stories of former relationships into empowering heirlooms.” 

    Noor Yahya, whose engagement ring and divorce ring were both crafted by Hourani, says, “After a journey of much healing following a break-up, that I woke up one day and decided right then to have my engagement ring redesigned to represent a new chapter of my life. The re-evaluating of my life and the experiences I gained and learned from.” 

    Yahya’s original engagement ring, called When Two Become One, featured the birth stones of her and her husband, with six diamonds surrounding a big solitaire to represent eternity. “We recycled the old gold from the engagement ring and reused all the gemstones, except for her husband’s birthstone, which we switched to a green tourmaline – Noor’s birthstone,” Hourani explains. “The result is a new ring with a new story, called Ripples. It serves as a constant reminder that, through life’s changes, embracing self-love can create beautiful ripples of growth towards a brighter and more resilient tomorrow.”

    Pinky diamond ring.
    Pinky ring. Image: Supplied

    The idea of reclaiming one’s independence through jewellery is something tangible for Dima and Tina Nawbar too, who are noticing a growing interest among their clients in repurposing their jewellery to better suit their circumstances and sentiments. “We guide our clients through the process of reimagining their pieces in a way that resonates with the present,” they explain.

    Hourani describes this as a trend that “reflects a societal shift towards reclaiming personal narratives through jewellery,” celebrating courage in perhaps the most symbolic way possible – through an infinite circle that can bend and mould itself to circumstance. Resilient and audacious. Ringing in change – quite literally. 

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