Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Diamond Standard

My engagement ring is not a Tiffany's diamond solitaire. That was not me. Budget aside, Michael would never have picked out something in a jewelry store case and walked away. I told him I wanted an emerald and being the modern couple we are, we shopped together. We picked out the perfect loose stone together. A round cut, natural emerald from South America. It was just the right shade and imperfectly perfect.

When I showed co-workers the kind of ring I wanted they were shocked. "Don't you want a diamond?!?" Well, there will be smallish diamonds flanking the emerald I'd explain, but they would still looked at me like I had two heads. Beyond a few comments from people who didn't know me well I didn't get a lot of heat on the ring choice. Some of my other choices, like my move across the country live with Mike and his preschool age son caused a stir. There was talk about how long we had been together and "engaged" without a ring, for sure. Once I had the ring nobody complained.

I didn't think it mattered that much when I got it or what it looked like. I wanted a tangible symbol of the promise, but I had time. I had lots of patience until I had a baby. Once I was his soul mate, co-parent, girlfriend, room mate AND the mother of his child I needed the ring. Whether it was social pressure to be perceived a certain way or do things the "right way" or just validation and reassurance that I needed, I needed the ring now.

By the time Riley was 3mo old I was not so subtly hinting that I wanted the ring. If it were truly a pure symbol of commitment I shouldn't have needed it so badly, I knew Mike wasn't going anywhere. If it were purely a tangible sign of commitment why would anyone care whether it was a diamond or not? The idea of having diamond engagement rings came from a De Beers ad campaign in 1938. I don't know about you, but when I hear stuff like that I feel like a huge tool. Capitalism has it's claws pretty deep in a lot of wedding "tradition."

In Offbeat Bride the author points out that while the ring is a symbol of commitment on the surface it's also a status symbol. I know I heard at least one "Can't he afford a diamond?" comment. Is that the purpose of an engagement ring? To prove your future spouse is flush (or foolish enough to go into debt to make everyone think so). I know when I visited my dad after the official proposal (not making this up) he got out a jeweler's loop. My ring however unconventional, passed inspection.

Bottom line, why shouldn't we pick any stone, metal, material that means something to us? It represents an incredibly intimate and personal promise. It's ridiculous to expect the tangible manifestation of that promise to always look the same. All politics aside I think diamonds are pretty, but there is such a spectrum of beauty out there. Follow your heart and as an added bonus say damn the man to the diamond corporations.


  1. There's something about a man dropping a lot of cash on a woman that shows he's making an investment in the relationship, not just emotionally, but tangibly. I felt similar about wanting a ring, and about wanting to refer to him as my Fiance, and then Husband, because he already was those things to me, and I wanted to be able to show that to the world. It is strange. We ended up getting a diamond from a local jeweler (we picked it out too, there's something fun in that) and Kev picked out the setting. I love my ring, and that's the most important part, that your ring is beautiful to you, and that it fits you.

    (loving reading the blog Katie, keep it up!)

  2. I's no ones business! What ever you decide as a couple is all that matters. P.S. Jewelers loop? Pahlese! What happens IF a couple decided to use a fake and/or lab created stone? Does this make the engagement invalid?? I don't think so.... Cindi

  3. I do think investing money in the ring is a gesture of forethought and faith in your relationship. I just think it's funny that most brides never consider anything other than a diamond because of an ad campaign 70yrs ago! I think everyone should have the piece of jewelry that makes them happy and proud what ever it is.


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