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MyOtherSelf

Engagement Rings

74 posts in this topic

I simply don't understand them. A social custom that dictates that the man should spend thousands of dollars on an object that has no inherent value when there are people out there who can't put food on the table?

This strikes me as so wasteful, selfish, and ridiculous. I'd like to get other peoples' opinions on the matter. I simply do not understand the mystique behind these pieces of jewelry, or any super expensive jewelry for that matter.

Do you know any couples who could have afforded a fancy engagement ring but chose not to do so? Did they choose to symbolize their commitment to one another in a different way?

I'm wondering if I'm the only person utterly confused about this matter.

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"All Great Apes Seek Status". Status seekers advertise their status.

I'll not go into

  1. Promise rings
  2. Buying virgin women/exchanging value
  3. Staking a claim
  4. Traditional symbols helping to give meaning in an untraditional world
  5. "How'd you do? Goodness, don't go swimming with that rock on your hand!" :rolleyes:

All of these will, I'm sure, be covered. Yes, couples exist without massive blood-diamond hunks on the woman's finger. We just did plain gold from known ethical sources.

4379196148_522262e21c_m.jpg

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I think the same goes for huge expenditures on weddings and honeymoons.

These extravagances have also become expensive customs. You can have a wonderful gathering of family and friends without spending a fortune; and you can have a memorable time away together without putting anyone into debt.

I think intentionally creating a "spectacle" (expensive or cheap) puts the focus in the wrong place.

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Yeah, you're right. So disgusting. Platinum or white gold for me. 3 to 4 carats. (I'm allergic to yellow gold). Seriously, would probably be interesting to have one designed that's less traditional but more meaningful since I've already done the whole "youthful marriage" bit years ago.

don't need the whole big expensive wedding though, already had one of those.

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Hmm. I've heard of pendants and tattoos in lieu of rings. I can't wear metal so I'm planning on making something out of glass.

I'm sure a lot of people simply don't question it. If you're going to propose, you buy a glitzy ring, it's tradition colliding with consumerism's buy more and buy bigger.

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I don't understand rings at all. I'll never wear them, or any jewelry for that matter (if I even ever get married). The decision to get married seems like a business deal to me. The huge wedding and spending of unnecessary money just blows my mind. There is over a 50% chance you'll get divorced and have to do it all over again anyway. Save some money, go out and have a few beers with close friends and family to celebrate, and go hump like bunnies. That's all would need to celebrate. ;)

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I've never heard of anyone specifically who opted out of the whole engagement ring thing. I tried to tell my fiance I didn't want one, but he just HAD to buy me one. One day he took me out to jewelers so that he could get an idea of what I liked. I always liked the delicate looking rings with the tiny stones, especially amethyst, emerald or sapphire. I did not like big diamonds, or big square-cut center stones in general, especially because of the practical aspect (getting snagged on stuff).

On Christmas Eve he presents me with an enormous rock... not a diamond thank god but still pretty much exactly the style I told him I didn't want. Turned out his ENFx mother and sister had gone with him when he went shopping and pressured him into not buying me one of the styles I had really wanted.

When I gently expressed puzzlement in why he got me this style he got all offended and mad, which is entirely understandable of course since he just spent several hundred dollars on it. His mom looked a little embarrassed and said "those other rings looked like promise rings. You're a woman now, not a girl, and you're allowed to wear big stones." Of course this upset my INTJ sensibilities, because all of that was meaningless. I didn't care about what I was "allowed" to do, or the perceived meaning of other types of rings; I just wanted something that showed that to him, my opinion was of the only importance, and everyone else's opinion on the subject was null and void.

Of course now I realize that the engagement ring thing as well as weddings will always be subject to contamination from social expectation because the very acts themselves are grounded in social symbolism.

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I've never heard of a woman who doesn't like jewellery.

You can't possibly be a woman :)

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I simply don't understand them. A social custom that dictates that the man should spend thousands of dollars on an object that has no inherent value when there are people out there who can't put food on the table?

This strikes me as so wasteful, selfish, and ridiculous. I'd like to get other peoples' opinions on the matter. I simply do not understand the mystique behind these pieces of jewelry, or any super expensive jewelry for that matter.

What does someone elses inability to procure food have to do with how someone else spends their money? Perhaps you think we should all be running around in naked packs, living off the land? Or are you implying you never buy anything beyond the bare minimum needed for survival and donate the rest to the less fortunate?

Certainly, the vast majority of objects only have the value we assign to them. We spend our entire lives making decisions about the worthiness of things. Rarity is one of those criteria, and its applied, rightly or wrongly, to precious metals and gems. Thats part of the appeal of a big diamond ring, the status conveyed by that objects rarity. Some (many) choose to define themselves by the value their accoutrements convey to the rest of the world.

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My mother didn't have an engagement ring until her 25th anniversary. So it does happen. I don't like the idea of an engagement ring as something that a man uses to "stake a claim" or something that he uses to "show he's serious."

Although, the history of engagement rings is quite interesting. While people have been giving each other engagement gifts for centuries, it being anything more than a trinket (talking about average folks here, not royalty) is somewhat recent. See, it use to be that a woman/her family could sue a man if he broke off an engagement - makes sense given the customs and gender roles of the times. At some point, that was made illegal, but men were still getting engaged, but still breaking it off (I'd guess after some hanky panky) - ruining the woman's marriage choices (but not his). Enter the engagement ring. If a man broke off the engagement, she got to keep it and sell it to make up for him ruining her future marriage choices. Thus, the bigger the ring the safer the engagement/more serious he was.

Obviously, such a thing is not really necessary now a days. However, I do like the idea of exchanging gifts as part of an engagement. Rings are nice and have the rather pretty symbolism of infinity, being round. Plus, unlike other jewelry, you can wear a ring with other rings. For a man, since most men prefer not to wear elaborate jewelry, a watch makes a nice engagement gift.

So, I like the idea of engagement gifts - something you wear is appealing since it can be on your person at all times, and jewelry fits that bill nicely. It's also nice to have something to kind of "mark" the engagement. But, I can see having a different tastes and wanting perhaps a necklace or something instead. Or, if I didn't have enough disposable income, forgoing engagement gifts. I also wouldn't want it to be one way. Can't afford a gift for both, can't afford a gift for either.

And I'm not sure what the OP means when she says that people shouldn't buy engagement rings when some people can't afford food. Does she mean you shouldn't buy luxuries if other people can't afford food, or you shouldn't buy luxuries if you can't afford food?

Link to very old thread on the same topic. I started it, so I have to link it. ;D

Edited by Storm

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In my last serious relationship (where marriage was discussed as a future possibility), my INfJ girlfriend specifically objected to the idea of an engagement ring.

Primarily, this was because of the cultural idea of an engagement ring being used to implicitly "purchase" a woman. She believed that because an engagement ring is only for a woman, it was inherently contradictory to the equality that she sought within a relationship.

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It's easy to say that, but if he presents you with a big rock all you can think is, "oooooOOOoOOOoohhh...sparkly."

Edited by ms jennifer

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I bought my wife a fairly nice engagement ring, but we didn't have a huge wedding. The ring is something she can keep her entire life, and pass on to our daughter, but the wedding only lasted one day.

For us, there was an important symbolic value, but I think the choice to purchase one or not is up to the individuals and should really be what they can afford. There is no sense in going into debt to buy a ring.

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I've never heard of a woman who doesn't like jewellery.

You can't possibly be a woman :)

*looks down*

Yup, still have my woman parts. I don't really like jewellery.

It's not a necessity. If we can't afford one, I don't need it and the one I do have if we get one doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive. We can symbolise our commitment by being more sensible and thinking about the future.

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Frankly, it doesn't matter one way or the other to me. You say it's disgusting that people spend that kind of money on something, while people starve. Okay, where do you draw the line?

Lobster is expensive, I could get more food for a better price by eating steak. But steak, too, is expensive, and I could get more food for a better price by eating hamburger. Which in turn is expensive, and so on and so on.

I could save a lot more than a tiny engagement ring (which by tradition, I believe, is 3 months base pay, or as much as is affordable) if I chose to live a slightly different lifestyle. And that would give me a lot of money to dedicate to other things. But I don't want to, because I work hard for my money, and I like to spend it on things that make me happy.

Engagement rings don't happen to make me happy, but if they did, you shouldn't begrudge me the right to purchase them.

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I like the symbolism of engagement rings (infinity, as Storm said; commitment), but I would never be comfortable with the tremendous amounts of money some people spend on them. I don't even like wearing big, chunky rings - so I would be most happy with something small, simple, and inexpensive. I'm not "officially" engaged yet, but my boyfriend knows exactly how I feel about engagement rings, and he agrees, so it shouldn't be an issue with us.

Also - Rain, I'm very definitely a woman, and I don't particularly like jewelry either. :p

I'll wear earrings occasionally, or a necklace, but hardly ever anything else. It's just one more thing to worry about losing, or breaking, or getting caught on something. But then, I'm not a very girly girl, and I'm a bit weird about things like that.

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I'm not really a jewelry person. I'd be happy with a very plain band and a stone set flat into it so it doesn't snag my clothes. Nothing big & ostentatious, I work in inner city areas and the last thing i need is something like that.

Diamonds are okay, but given their environmental and human impact, I'd probably prefer something else or no stone at all.

p.s. Am I the only woman on here who lacks an "Ooooh, sparkly" response?

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Frankly, it doesn't matter one way or the other to me. You say it's disgusting that people spend that kind of money on something, while people starve. Okay, where do you draw the line?

Lobster is expensive, I could get more food for a better price by eating steak. But steak, too, is expensive, and I could get more food for a better price by eating hamburger. Which in turn is expensive, and so on and so on.

I could save a lot more than a tiny engagement ring (which by tradition, I believe, is 3 months base pay, or as much as is affordable) if I chose to live a slightly different lifestyle. And that would give me a lot of money to dedicate to other things. But I don't want to, because I work hard for my money, and I like to spend it on things that make me happy.

Engagement rings don't happen to make me happy, but if they did, you shouldn't begrudge me the right to purchase them.

I whole-heartedly agree. Sure, they're expensive, (most of the time,) but if you don't want to buy one/receive one, then don't!

I really think the tradition is beautiful and sure, there may be ties to cultures that "buy" their brides, but if you ask the average hoping-to-be-engaged man, I'm sure that idea is not on his mind.

Personally, I would love to know that a man who is asking me to spend the rest of my life with him is SO serious about it that he's making big sacrifices to buy me a ring. A pretty one, please, with white gold and three diamonds. Thanks. :)

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I whole-heartedly agree. Sure, they're expensive, (most of the time,) but if you don't want to buy one/receive one, then don't!

I really think the tradition is beautiful and sure, there may be ties to cultures that "buy" their brides, but if you ask the average hoping-to-be-engaged man, I'm sure that idea is not on his mind.

Personally, I would love to know that a man who is asking me to spend the rest of my life with him is SO serious about it that he's making big sacrifices to buy me a ring. A pretty one, please, with white gold and three diamonds. Thanks. :)

I don't particularly care one way or the other about the tradition, to be honest. If a woman asked me for (or indicated that she wanted) engagement slippers instead, I'd do that.

The presumption is that I love this woman, so why wouldn't I get her something that would make her happy, as long as I could afford it?

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And I'm not sure what the OP means when she says that people shouldn't buy engagement rings when some people can't afford food. Does she mean you shouldn't buy luxuries if other people can't afford food, or you shouldn't buy luxuries if you can't afford food?

I think people should do what they wish with their money. I only 1) don't understand this custom and 2) I would personally feel uncomfortable wearing something of such value and knowing that that money could have gone to SUCH more productive use, ie, I'd rather donate that money to make someone's life better than have something shiny on my finger

---------- Post added 03-30-2010 at 04:55 PM ----------

Frankly, it doesn't matter one way or the other to me. You say it's disgusting that people spend that kind of money on something, while people starve. Okay, where do you draw the line?

.

Hm. Maybe I draw the line at things whose value is symbolic rather than concrete. Since I've never purchased anything of purely symbolic value that cost more than, say, 50 bucks, it's pretty easy for me to draw that line subjectively...for myself. But not for others.

If you were on a deserted island, would you rather have a massive diamond or a bowl of food?

And to clarify, I'm not passing judgement on anyone. I often do things that are selfish, ridiculous, and wasteful, however, I understand why I do them and what motivates me. Rings and other forms of luxury are hard for me to understand. Marriage rituals in general...bother me.

Maybe one day I'll change my mind. Maybe I'm just single and bitter :-P

P.S. recently went to a microfinance related fundraiser which got me thinking hard about poverty, money, and what the upper/middle classes choose to do with money, and what I will choose to do with money when I (hopefully) have disposable income in the future.

Edited by MyOtherSelf

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My mom asked my dad for a sowing machine instead of a rock and they went on a time share together for their honeymoon. So there are couples out there who do commemorate their sacred vows with things like sowing machines and free vacations.

I think one of the only reasons why I would want a ring is to save the hassle of explaining to everyone why I don't have one but that doesn't seem like a good reason. On the other hand, I am somewhat of a romantic and I do think rings are pretty... it can also mean more than you think it will when someone you love gives something nice to you because they want to. I would hope that someone giving me a ring did so because they wanted to otherwise I would question why I was with a person who felt such an obligation or what sort of pressure I must have put on him.

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In an attempt to clarify your logic:

I think people should do what they wish with their money. I only 1) don't understand this custom and 2) I would personally feel uncomfortable wearing something of such value and knowing that that money could have gone to SUCH more productive use, ie, I'd rather donate that money to make someone's life better than have something shiny on my finger[/Quote]1) The custom is just that, custom. Why do you shake hands with someone when you meet them? Because it's the custom.

In reality, you shake hands with someone to show you're not carrying a weapon, but that's somewhat pointless now isn't it? We still shake hands.

2) What about a car? Do you drive a Hyundai Accent (3-Door)? Those are some of the least expensive cars around, at about $11,500 sticker (and can be had as low as $9,000).

Your car is probably worth more than $16,000 (Hyundai+Engagement ring). Hell, I know mine was when I first got it, and it was my first car, purchased before I got my license at the age of 16.

Hm. Maybe I draw the line at things whose value is symbolic rather than concrete. [/Quote]Like designer jeans, name brand body wash, name brand shoes, name brand anything really, etc?
Since I've never purchased anything of purely symbolic value that cost more than, say, 50 bucks, it's pretty easy for me to draw that line subjectively...for myself. But not for others.[/Quote]Symbolic value is a load of crap. Not because it's worthless, but because Symbolic and intrinsic value are, for all intents and purposes, identical.

One only separates the two when trying to make a point.

If you were on a deserted island, would you rather have a massive diamond or a bowl of food?[/Quote]If you were on a deserted island, would you rather have a bowl of food or a 250-foot yacht?

And the 250 foot yacht is quite a bit more of a luxury purchase than an engagement ring.

And to clarify, I'm not passing judgement on anyone. I often do things that are selfish, ridiculous, and wasteful, however, I understand why I do them and what motivates me. Rings and other forms of luxury are hard for me to understand. Marriage rituals in general...bother me.[/Quote]I don't disagree. I don't see a need for an institution of marriage. If I know I love someone, and want to be with them, instituting it actually seems to diminish that.

I've given you my vow that I'll be with you, and signed a document to that effect. When we get into a fight, and I returning because I love you and genuinely want to reconcile, or because reconciliation is just less effort than divorce?

It's my opinion that it's possible you don't like engagement rings, not because you have an aversion to waste or selfish spending, but because you have an aversion to the process. I don't have an aversion to the process, but I do have an aversion to waste, and I have no problem with the process.

In fact, when diamond's are mined (or 'scavenged') in an economically and socially responsible way, they're a fantastic way for a developing country to increase their revenues without infrastructure.

Maybe one day I'll change my mind. Maybe I'm just single and bitter :-P[/Quote]The two are not exclusive. I know many unmarried, happily paired individuals.
P.S. recently went to a microfinance related fundraiser which got me thinking hard about poverty, money, and what the upper/middle classes choose to do with money, and what I will choose to do with money when I (hopefully) have disposable income in the future.
I've always had disposable income, and most people would call that fortunate. I call it frugal. I don't waste my money, or give it away lightly.

If you want to do microfinance, I recommend Kiva -- it's a great site. (www dot kiva dot org)

Does anyone have some specific info on the market for engagement rings? Average expenditure in the US, prices at the extreme high and low ends?

Well, this is fun, who knows if its accurate:

http://www.aweddingministers.com/wedding/statistics.htm

I don't have current information, but according to this, the average cost for an engagement ring is between $3,500 and $4,000.

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lycurgus-

I can't begin quoting because that'll take forever. But to clarify some of your questions without quoting...

I don't own a car. I've only been financially independant for about 6 months. Before then, I truly had no understanding of money as a contraint. I was barely even aware if its existance to be honest.

Since then, however, every dollar I spend is a dollar in debt, so I try to avoid buying things that are expensive or that I don't need. In the realms of things I don't need but would like to have, I prioritize which ones make me happiest. These are almost exclusively experiential things. Crazy markups for brand names drive me mad. I am a stickler for efficiency. Buying a $300 pair of jeans in my opinion would be putting my money in the wrong place in many different senses. (would totally disrupt the balance between 1. who do I want my money going to, and 2. what things do I want to buy?)

Yes, I buy myself things like jeans, but not designer ones. The most recent pair I bought cost 24 dollars (though they were probably made by underpaid children but I wont even open that can of worms). I'm sure some stuff I have could have been purchased for cheaper (though I am quite the hunter for a good bargain and HATE to overpay), however, I'm not a perfectly informed consumer, and I don't have infinite time. I am keenly aware of prices, however, and careful as I can be.

If I buy myself something expensive, it ought to make me happy. The happiness should somewhat reflect the price. Diamonds seem totally out of proportion, especially considering there are so many other shiny things I could buy for so much cheaper, or that I could look at a ring and ogle it for free. If i loved someone enough to want to live with them all my life, I don't think I'd feel that they needed to show they loved me by getting me something rare and expensive. I think I'd want them to show me some other way, with something less generic, less expensive, and more enjoyable. I already own a ring, which cost very little, which I wear on my wedding finger (started wearing it there before I realized society has pre-designated that finger for a specific purpose) and I'm perfectly happy keeping it that way.

Maybe I am over idealistic and I am interested to see, if I do get married, how I will choose to wrestle with the social expectations that come along with it.

I will continue ingesting your post......

What do you mean by "the process"? also, which two things are not exclusive?

And thanks for the link.

Edited by MyOtherSelf

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What do you mean by "the process"? [/Quote]Of marriage.
also, which two things are not exclusive?[/Quote]You can remain unmarried, and be happily paired with another person. There's no requirement to marry to be a happy couple.

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