Saturday, December 09, 2006

How To Profit From Divorce Rings.

Harold Tompson Story

Life was dark for Harold Thompson in 2001. Corning laid him off. He got divorced from his second wife. And he was working at Wal-Mart off of Market Street to make ends meet.

That was when former Corning co-worker Mary Burden came in to shop. She had been laid off, too, and they got to talking. At some point, she suggested: "You know, there are rings for high school football, anniversaries, rings to show you're single or married. But there are no rings for a divorce."

In 60 seconds, Thompson said, a ring design formed in his head. That night, he went home to draw what would become the Divorced Ring.

Like the Irish Clannagh ring, the right hand ring or the pinky ring, the $330 Divorced Ring is pegged as a matter-of-fact way for people to announce their status in life.

"It's not promoting divorce," Thompson said, "but if you're in a situation, whether dating or married, and it's not a good situation, then you need to get out of it."

The design is simple: a thick gold band with a break in the center and three bands of white gold on one side. One band for the year you met your ex. One band for the year you married. One band for the year of the divorce.

Thompson wears his Divorced Ring on his left middle finger.

Thompson and Burden said they started their new Web business, Divorced Jewelry Company, to put a positive spin on the heartbreak of divorce. (In 2003, Burden separated from her husband and is now widowed.) Their slogan: Building self-esteem one person at a time. The Web site,, also sells Divorced Jewelry Company hats and shirts.

"We wanted a name that would make people go, 'What?'" Burden said, laughing. "Most everybody asks us to repeat it."

The company hired a Philadelphia jeweler to make the ring, and the patent for the Divorced Ring just arrived a few weeks ago. Now, the business partners are trying to market it to jewelry stores while working swing shifts as fiber processing associates back at Corning, where they were re-hired in 2003. (Thompson, who vows not to marry again, hasn't told his ex-wives about his new business venture yet.)

The potential market for divorce jewelry is substantial, though the overall divorce rate in the country has dropped from the oft-reported 50 percent to 41 percent, as reported in an April New York Times story. The National Center for Health Statistics put the divorce rate in 2005 at 3.6 divorces per 1,000 people.

Spiritual Divorce: Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life