Engagements are naturally fresh in my mind. Tim popped the question to me in December of 2009, and thanks to Facebook, we all know when someone gets engaged, usually before their immediate family does. It’s a wonderful, magical time (until the wedding planning starts), but up until the early 1900’s, it wasn’t common practice to give an engagement ring, let alone a rare diamond gemstone.
Way back when Kings & Queens were still doing their thing in Europe, royalty gave a betrothal ring. Among religious groups that shunned jewelry, the bride-to-be was given a sewing thimble as a symbol of her promise to wed. Now, 80% of American women demand receive a flashy diamond ring to announce their new relationship status.
I agree that it’s nice to present the woman you choose to marry with a rare, equisite diamond to show how rare and equisite your love is. But when and why did these symbols get so freakin’ out of control?! Women have become so enamored with engagement rings that it practically overshadows the guy who gave it to them. Instead of wishing her a lifetime of happiness and asking about the lucky guy, the first thing we ask a girl who got engaged is, “Where’s the ring?” It’s beyond shallow.
$3,531 = the average amount spent on an engagement ring
I suppose it could be blamed on American greed, but I have a different theory. I blame it on girls. Girls and their catty competitiveness. Just the way girls dress up when they go out to impress other girls, girls want a huge rock weighing down their hand to out-do other girls! And this mentality is what spirals the rest of the wedding out of control. Hence, the ridiculously lucrative wedding industry that has us convinced a 300% markup on flowers is reasonable and that DJ’s are tacky.
The rings I’ve been seeing lately are large, gaudy, low-quality, over-priced and they all have a distinct trying too hard look about them. Class, elegance and value have gone out the window. Not to mention no one saves up for a ring anymore. 1-year interest free financing? Yes, please! (Which is the root of our country’s problem, and specifically, my generation’s problem, but let’s save that topic for another day.)
But let’s be real, the average guy can’t. He feels pressured to get an over-the-top ring, ends up going to a crappy mall jewelry store and buys a big diamond with lots of flaws that’s slightly tinted yellow just to please his lady & her girlfriends. Then 10 years down the road when she wants an upgrade and this poor dude goes to get the ring appraised by a real jeweler, he realizes he got completely ripped off and it’s actually worth half of what he paid. (I’ve heard horror stories, ahem, Kay Jewelers).
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my diamond engagement ring and I would have felt weird if Tim proposed without one. It’s small (compared to today’s messed up standards), elegant, near-perfect quality and sparkly as all hell. When I look at it, I don’t see dollar signs. I see the love behind it and the future it’s leading to. That’s why I can’t wait to put it on every morning. Not so I can flash it around in front of my co-workers.
What did Marilyn Monroe know, anyway?