Diamonds, determination and a time to shine

Megan Angelo

When it comes to promoting itsproduct, the diamond industry has always had it easy. Looking back on the history of fashion, it is impossible to find a time period in which diamonds were not in style. Decade after decade, diamonds have been the ultimate heralds of complimentary proclamations. A glittering necklace screams, This woman is worthy of adoration. Twinkling earrings declare, She deserves to be pampered. A blinding stone on her left hand announces, She has this beautiful thing because someone loves her.

According to tradition, women dream of being adored to the point of receiving blinding bracelets and pendants. However, it is the climactic diamond ring and everything that it denotes that women have learned to worship most passionately.

But the ring can be elusive, and many women panic. They flirt aggressively, scan the personal ads in secret and agree to let their friends set them up. Date after hapless date, they watch a near-stranger signal for the check and wonder when they’ll meet the man who will bring sparkle to their life and to their left hand.

Sometimes it seems like a ridiculously conventional battle, especially when women are manning space shuttles and heading international corporations. Why do women need to be chosen by a man to be special?

The answer, according to the diamond industry, is that they don’t. Recent ad campaigns have featured an innovation that subtly defies centuries of romantic tradition: the right-hand diamond ring.

A full-page picture of a smug, attractive, thirty-something woman comprises half of the spread devoted to the promotion of the ring. On the fourth finger of her right hand, the woman is wearing a diamond ring so dazzling its silhouette cannot be made out. The ring is so bright, in fact, that it’s hardly noticeable that the woman’s left hand is bare. Nonetheless, it is clear that adorning the naked left hand is not high on her list of priorities. She exudes success, and her diamond stands for power.

The bold text of the advertisement reads, “Your left hand says ‘we.’ Your right hand says ‘me.’ Your left hand rocks the cradle. Your right hand rules the world. Women of the world, raise your right hand.”

Quite probably, women everywhere will gladly oblige. They will learn to gaze down at their right hand with satisfaction instead of offering their left hand and a proposal anecdote to everyone they meet. Today’s successful women can afford to pamper themselves. At the behest of jewelers everywhere, they will comfortably decide without the help of a fiancée that they are special enough for diamonds.

As the right-hand diamond flaunts a mildly sexist tradition, more weighty advancements for women are at hand. Earlier this week, Democrat Carol Moseley Braun made public her intentions to run for president in 2004.

The path lying ahead of her is formidable, especially because Braun presents her gender as an advantage instead of trying to downplay it and act like one of the boys. “A woman can fix the mess [the Bush administration] has created, because we are practical, we are not afraid of partnerships and we are committed to making the world better for our children,” she told the Associated Press on Monday.

Analysts have already jumped up to emphasize the hopelessness of her campaign. Underneath their rapid streams of political jargon and social statistics is the same tired message: America is still not ready for a woman.

Women, however, are ready for America. They have secured diamonds and presidential candidacies and all the riches in-between on their own. Sometime in the future, a woman will raise her right hand to be sworn into the office of the President of the United States. And whether her hand is bejeweled by a dazzling diamond or not, it will be a shining moment in history. As is the case with everything else women have accomplished, it’s just a matter of time.