These days, there is one thing on which all jewellers are unanimous. Sisters are doing it for themselves. Yes, women are routinely to be found walking into jewellery stores alone or with their friends, mothers, daughters and sisters, and they’re indulging. It’s all very grown-up and more often than not, they’re enjoying a bonding experience in the process. In contrast, most jewellers are reporting that men buying jewellery tend to make decisions relatively quickly. It’s the women who are lingering. In fact, they’re handling jewellery in a rather different way.
Men have a reputation among jewellers for concerning themselves with the four Cs that traditionally define diamond quality and for mentally speculating on the investment potential different diamonds can offer. Women are thinking about that too, but they’re also very busy with the experience of it all – they’re feeling gorgeous without guilt or gratitude, because they’ve earned it for themselves; they’re questioning the design of the thing; they’re turning the jewel around, playing with it, enjoying the tactile finish of the precious metal, and feeling the smooth rim of the diamond where it encounters its setting. There are even some jewellers who are convinced that women perceive the colour of diamonds with more sensitivity and accuracy than men.
One of the most tactile and playful kinds of jewellery around comes in the form of stacking rings - jewels you can combine and twist at your whim, piling them high to reflect your achievements, memories and joys one day, or wearing a solitary one for a serenely confident and empowering reminder another. Or for that matter, for no reason at all – just because. Often the best reason, of course.
In what may have been the earliest incarnation of stacking rings, in the 1880s, the Victorian half hoop ring combined diamonds with other gems and very fine hand carved scroll work, and women often wore a few of these rings together. In the 1920s and 30s, women began wearing platinum eternity bands, usually set with diamonds, on their right hand. If they were lucky enough, they received one at the birth of each child, which they would wear all together on one finger.
Today, the De Beers Azulea stacking rings, each punctuated by a tactile metal finish unique to De Beers and set with a single brilliant De Beers diamond, come in four pretty hues of gold – yellow, white, rose and black. Fun, delicate and graceful, they allude to the kaleidoscope of colours seen in a sunset sky, moving from gentle silver to warm yellow, a dash of red and deep, rich luminous grey. Naturally, their versatility means they can be worn alone, mixed up in any arrangement - or even borrowed by a sister.
As women buy presents for themselves and each other, and as they toy with and collect jewellery, like these delicious precious rings, turning them round and admiring them resting on their hands, there comes a certain reassurance and a pleasure that only jewellery can bring.
Jewellery is unlike any other accessory. It offers an enduring beauty, one that way surpasses the transience of fashion, one that women come back to season after season. Its materials are inherently precious and they don’t betray age or wear and tear - like perhaps the inside of an expensive handbag, with its remnants of lipstick and ink. Diamonds remain the most durable material found on this earth – even though, as De Beers brand ambassadors round the world can testify – they still retain the ability to make many a grown woman go weak at the knees within moments.