Must Have: Dead ringer

OK, so the magazines are full of what we should be wearing in April, but we can't buy any of it for at least another month. What's a fashion fan to do? Melanie Rickey has the first fashion tip for 1998. Buy a Sovereign ring.

A trip to H Samuel, or a glance at page 25 of the winter Argos catalogue would be a good place to start, and is sure to be inspiring. What will it be, a 1910 or 1949 Sovereign? A brash, chunky mount or a subtle twist of inlaid gold surrounding the coin? Keith Talent, the anti-hero of Martin Amis's novel London Fields, like Del-Boy would choose the biggest and heaviest of the rings as a status symbol, and to imply great wealth. The directional designers, however (should we trust them, is it a big joke?) say this year the Sovereign ring will be a hot fashion accessory.

A scary thought indeed, considering their recent history. Back in the Eighties it was cool to sneer at the misguided masses who thought wearing one of these chunky gold monstrosities with a shell suit, badly flicked and highlighted hair and hi-top trainers was hip - and that was just the white boys. Aspiring soul girls were just as tacky. A former soul girl admits: "You were nothing without a heavy Sovereign ring, and a grown out perm." The hip-hop fraternity on the other hand, had one motto: wear enough gold rings to excite a bullion dealer.

Curiously, the people who sneered at the "casuals" wearing the rings a decade ago are the ones most likely to be wearing them in 1998. It is thanks to the ultimate 1990's casual Owen Gaster, Bella Freud, and Fabio Piras (who all showed "Ragga Girl" or Latino- inspired collections for this spring/ summer) that the Soverign ring is appearing in glossy fashion shoots, and being touted as an ironic fashion accessory.

Best of all, like it or not, this is one fashion accessory that won't be difficult to find. Just head for your local high street, and expect to pay from about pounds 14.99 for a gold signet ring, and up to pounds 70-80 for one that weighs at least one-fifth of an ounce.

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