March 15, 2010

The Bling Thing

All brides know that the first thing anyone asks you once you're engaged is "What does the ring look like?" (if you tell them over the phone), or if you happen make the announcement in person, you will experience the immediate grabbing of your left ring finger for inspection and approval.

Having experienced my own engagement and the recent engagements of my friends, plus reading about other's experiences in the world of wedding blogs, I've quickly learned that engagement rings are a big source of controversy these days.  You have the traditional brides who want the Tiffany & Co. platinum setting, the hipsters and practical brides who want a vintage and/or cruelty free bauble, and the budget minded brides who want something simple that won't break the bank. There are even some who are on board with men wearing engagement rings as well, to symbolize their equal commitment to their relationship.

But all of this bling controversy begs the question, why have an engagement ring at all? 

When I was home for the holidays and visiting one of my best friends from college, her mother stated that she was never given an engagement ring.  In fact, neither my mother nor my MIL ever had engagement rings either.  According to my friend's mom, their generation, which pioneered the feminist movement, felt that engagement rings were completely unnecessary, and worse, a misogynistic symbol of a man buying a woman.  Why not just have two people make a consenting, adult decision to get married, and then be done with it?

"Well Mom," my friend replied, "I may not need a man to buy me a diamond, but I'd still like one."  

My friend's statement is the perfect representation of my generation's attitudes towards engagement rings.  As woman who grew up in a world where we were taught we are independent, capable, and equal to men, we don't need a ring to symbolize that we are a man's property, but most of us still like the tradition of wearing something sentimental and meaningful to us.  We are able to choose how traditional we want to be (through our engagement ring choice and other life choices) because through their rebellion of cultural norms, our mothers paved the way for us to have any opportunity and freedom we desire. 

To be honest, my husband and I took a more practical route and had already made a mutual decision to get married and even enroll in marriage classes before we made it "official" by him getting me a diamond ring. And while I love my ring and what it represents, I always found it silly that people still don't consider you really engaged until you have that ring on your finger.

What are your views on engagement rings? Do you view them as necessary in our current culture? Would you be willing to get engaged if your fiance did not present you with a diamond? 



  1. I'm like your friend; I don't need a ring, but I really want one. :-)

  2. I think a ring is something tangible that represents his commitment to you. I love that I have something on my finger that I can look at and see his commitment to me. It is a lovely reminder of the moment we truly, officially decided to spend our lives together.

    Oh my, that was mushy.

  3. Extremely well-written post!

    I agree that a ring is realistically a silly thing, and the committment you have with your fiance is the real symbol of your love. But it's hard not to give in to cultural expectations, and almost easier on you as a couple to have that ring, so you don't get asked a thousand times what exactly is going on.

    I do like wearing it, though. I smile every time I see it, and not because it's this huge million-dollar 'prize' I can show off, but because it's simple and elegant and EXACTLY my style. And it makes me happy that my fiance knows me that well.

    You know the whole engagment ring thing was a PR campaign a long time ago - one of the most successful in history. So it was started for the diamond companies to make money, not some die-hard romantic who wanted to express his love.

    Just another angle to the story.

  4. I didn't feel that I needed a ring. She wanted one but I didn't really care about having one...being that we're two women the costs could have gone through the roof so I figured I'd just get her one. I took her to the store to get her ring and she picked it out in 10 minutes. Then after she was done, and with a little prodding from my sister who was whispering in her ear, "Dawn can get one too", she turned to me and told me "OK now it's your turn" I was so shocked and didn't really know what to do. I had never looked at rings before that day and wasn't sure what style I even liked but I ended up quickly choosing one. Thankfully I still adore it to this day and have never seen another one I'd prefer.

    I actually like wearing it and now that I'm married I continue to wear it everyday with my wedding ring. I like how it shows I'm taken and I like being taken :)

  5. Hmm.. this is hard! I think most girls look forward to a heartfelt proposal more than the ring, at least I did. It was definitely exciting to top off a great proposal with a sparkler! :)


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