Rich people love uncommon greetings. Hand kissing is a rare gesture among uncouth, lower classes and a distinguishing trademark of the wealthy. The simple gesture of bowing to a downward facing hand speaks volumes about one’s stature and while the upper crust will rarely actually kiss the hand, there are certainly situations where lips will grace the skin. To integrate fully with the rich, comfort with hand kissing is essential.
Most associate hand kissing with The Godfather, religious figures and romance but for the rich it is a gesture of chivalry although charm does play a role. Important figures make hand kissing a calling card of sorts. Jacques Chirac, former president of France, was well known as a hand kisser. In England, a newly minted prime minister will kiss the Queen’s hand as an expression of the monarch’s trust in her subject. This gesture of course is not reserved for high-ranking political figures; it abounds in social circles.
Like the air kiss, a hand kiss is an excellent vehicle to express your class and charm but bestows an air of individuality within your social circle. While I wouldn’t recommend pulling this out of the toolkit in business circles, kissing the hand of a new acquaintance at the amfAR New York Gala, as an example, is fitting. A well-placed hand kiss can appear as opulent and as high brow as arriving in a Rolls Royce Phantom. Despite your elevated stature among elegant women, expect a healthy dose of mocking from the gentlemen in your next foursome at Sebonack but if it is good enough for the King of Spain it is good enough for you.