Monday, July 23, 2007

BLING

I was blog hopping a few weeks ago when I came across something that really, really disturbed me. The post itself was cute, a girl had written a sweet story about the heirloom diamond wedding ring she had. She then invited her readers to post about their own wedding rings. By the time I had slogged through thirty comments like “my ring really isn’t as big as I hoped”, “my fiancĂ© really couldn’t afford what I wanted but the fact that he bought it anyway really shows how much he loves me”, “we are definitely going to upgrade someday,” I was having trouble keeping my lunch down.

I want to be clear that I love the symbolism of wedding rings. I think it’s cool to have a way to say to the world, “I am committed.” What makes me feel sick is the weird importance we place on female engagement rings. So I’m proclaiming this right now, for any future ring buyer I run across….I don’t want one. The day we get married we can put nice bands on each other and you won’t have to worry that it’s too small or too cloudy or not exactly what I wanted. I have all kinds of feminist and political reasons for thinking that diamonds are a huge scam but those aren’t even at the forefront of my uneasiness with engagement rings. I don’t want to waste that much time and energy on something that sits on my hand. Two months salary? Let’s buy a house, let’s spend three weeks on a honeymoon instead of two, let’s celebrate our first anniversary somewhere amazing, lets buy a piece of art we will both love. Let’s not start our marriage with me making it clear that my happiness hinges on what material things you can buy me. Let’s not let an industry with a brilliant copywriter dictate what forever is going to mean to you and me.

I realize this is a controversial statement and for those of you who love your diamonds-I say “great!” My mantra as of late is that most of the life decisions we make aren’t “right” or “wrong” and if we want people to understand and respect our choices, we have to extend the same respect to them. But the older I get and the less my life goes according to some arbitrary plan, the less I feel myself bound to all kinds of traditions. Fantasizing about a gigantic rock is just not one of them anymore.

38 comments:

Cristin Lassen said...

Amen. When my now husband bought mine, I told him, "You better not spend a lot of money because our money is going to be the same in a few months." I know that sounds strange to people that take out huge loans to buy big rings, but it was the idea that was important to me, not the fancy ring.

Miss Hass said...

I completely agree.

Laurie said...

My husband bought me two gorgeous rings when we got engaged. I won't say how much, but let's just say... I could trade them in for a car.

Now that I'm a mother, I just think about all of the other places we could have invested that money... we're pretty big on investing in this household. Even the baby's got a portfolio.

Anyway, from experience, I agree with you. However, is it bad that I'll keep mine anyway?? :)

lilcis said...

I totally agree. And I couldn't imagine wearing something worth two months salary on my finger! I mean, come on. Even the $500 we did spend seemed like so much money for such a little thing! I love my ring, though, and I'm glad my husband let me pick it out. I wanted something antique style, and instead ended up with a 'party style' ring from Kay Jewelers. I get a lot of compliments on it, even though when a few a my friends first saw it I got a lot of "oh, it's . . . nice" comments.

I wonder if that feeling comes with getting married a little older, or if we're just low-maintenance girls?

MissEm said...

I agree! I was aiming for a simple gold or diamond band but was pleasantly surprised by the big ol' estate ring Rob got me.

I like it because it is an actual beautiful piece of jewelry, not just a diamond on display.

B. said...

Katie, what if your fiance offered you a Ring Pop? Would you wear it? What if he really wanted you to and started to cry when you told him you thought it was a big joke? When someone asked you "Why have you had that ring pop on your finger for the last three days" and you said "Actually, it's my engagement ring," and they mocked you would it hurt inside? Would it diminish your love for your fiance?

These are questions you need to ask yourself.

Also you should see the movie Blood Diamond.

I haven't seen it, but it seems relevent to this discussion.

k8 said...

B, you really have to get over that girl who refused your Ring Pop.

The better question is, how on earth did i end up with a guy who cries about a Ring Pop?

Kersten said...

Ah, as usual, you were more diplomatic than I am.

There are many bottom lines for me (most of which are summed up nicely in this article: http://www.slate.com/?id=2167870), but the bottomest of all is that I am not territory to be marked with over-priced, over-marketed, ill-mined lucre!

k8 said...

there are plenty of non-diplomatic rants on the cutting room floor. years of swabbing have left me wary of controversy.

B. said...

Hi Kersten!


B, you really have to get over that girl who refused your Ring Pop.

Some wounds never heal.


The better question is, how on earth did i end up with a guy who cries about a Ring Pop?

Um, he's really good at marathons, and loves Iron & Wine.

Senja & Mikko said...

amen, girl. i was able to chose my engagement ring and i could have gone much bigger but i didn't want to. he said that he wants me to have a ring with a stone and that's what i picked out - but a small one. and our wedding bands are just simple bands in whitegold - no stone.

i've heard stories of girls who got a small stone as the engagement ring and broke it off as 'the size of the ring shows how much my fiancée loves me'. well, this shocks me and makes me upset..

no offence though to anybody out there.

Mike said...

Back in 1989 Nancy and I couldn't afford much of anything....hells bells the debt we got ourselves into back then !

I really don't know how much we spent on her engagment ring...less than a grand I'm certain.

But her actual "wedding band"...the ring I placed on her finger...is just a hair thicker than a paperclip....lol...it's gold, it's "real"....and she loves it. Our bands, and not the freaking diamond are what matters to us.

...two (or three) cents worth

f*bomb. said...

B,
I love Iron & Wine.
A ring pop would never make it 3 days. Maybe 3 minutes, tops.
And apparently, I'm a commitmentphobe. Let's prove this crazy world wrong. Let's get f*ing MARRIED.

Katie-
My thoughts exactly. When I think of everything a stupid ring could accomplish had it been invested in better things, it literally makes me want to vomit. When I think of how manipulated our culture has been to value a gem and to suggest a rock is equal to a feeling makes me want to drive around in a megaphone truck and yell, "masonite! MASONITE!!!"

Get wise, people. Stop letting the system work you. DOWN WITH THE MAN! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

f*bomb. said...

That being said, a piece of jewelry is a piece of jewelry. I don't care how fake and how cheap it is, but if I'm gonna wear it, it damn well better LOOK good.

f*bomb. said...

Pardon me.
MOISSANITE!
There.

Katie said...

I'm wearing a diamond because it was my husbands grandmother's diamond, reset for me.

And that's pretty much the only reason.

k8 said...

katie, your post about your ring and your proposal totally made me teary eyed-it was so sweet and romantic.

well i was afraid i was going to offend folks with my thoughts but i'm glad to hear you are all on the same page!!

cropstar5 said...

i've always said- i'd much rather have an engagement BOAT than an engagement RING!

Allison said...

I've always been a bit ambivalent about diamond engagement rings not so much because of any moral or ethical qualms but because it makes me nervous to spend so much on something that I could easily misplace or lose. I tend to be a bit spacey and I have lost just about every great piece of jewelry I've ever owned. I can just imagine taking it off to wash dishes or put lotion on my hands and then going back to where I thought I left it and getting that sick, panicked feeling when it's not there.

Anyway, kudos for knowing what REALLY matters to you and for expressing it eloquently.

jordan said...

I call B.S.--Wait until he gives you some fabulous ring and let's see you turn it down. :)

Like anything, jewelry can be gaudy or well done. I think it is all about having good taste.

BESIDES wedding rings, diamonds before you are 40 are tacky.

k8 said...

eh. we'll see. i didn't just pull these strong feelings out of a hat. i guess i hope the boy who wants to marry me doesn't think i'm saying one thing and meaning "get me one anyway!"

Mary said...

EXACTLY! Exactly! Oh, Katie. Thank you. Wow, I really am not the only one.

I've actually had a friend or two get very defensive whenever I mention that I don't want an engagement ring. As if my not wanting one makes them wanting one a bad thing. Go fig.

Whits said...

Yeah. After going to west africa and seeing blood diamond, I'm not so sure I want a diamond. Yes I think they are pretty, but I'd love a sapphire or Pearl ring all the same. I'm thinking...small diamond if at all. But I do want a ring no matter what.

f*bomb. said...

I always said, "Engagement JetSkis"!!!
We ARE living the same life!!!

k8 said...

pearls are so pretty. and no one dies harvesting those ; )

Daisy Paige said...

I always said I wanted a simple band - more practical, less intimidating, better use of money elsewhere - but Josh picked out the setting and diamond for my ring, and even though it wasn't anything I had ever expected, I fell in love with it right away. I have a hunch you'd do the same, regardless of what you think or feel right now.

I love getting compliments on it and I love it even more when I tell people he picked it out all by himself. If my wedding ring is a symbol of my husband's love and eternal devotion to me, why on earth would *I* pick it out or change it in any way?

PS - my ring isn't all big and fancy and he definitely did not go into debt or spend two months' salary on it. There is a happy medium, you know.

jennyd said...

My friend Rachel opted for a piano instead of a ring.

Kevin asked me if I would rather have a really nice honeymoon or put that money towards a ring. I thought, well only I would enjoy the ring, but both of us would enjoy a nice honeymoon. And my mom just wore a plain gold band, so I thought that would be cool. Plus, I thought it was crazy that people went into debt for this. I got a $100 gold band.

I wish I could say the story ends there . Doesn't. Started feelng a little sorry for myself after we married, as I noticed all our friends and the other young couples around us had big rocks. It wasn't that they had something I didn't, it's what having a big rock seemed to imply---or what not having one did. It's hard to explain because I totally can't relate to it now, but I found myself resenting that Kevin hadn't found it worth his while to make a fuss over me/my ring...as if that was a symbol of his regard for me (but take into account I already felt badly because he never took me looking for rings because that was such a BYU thing to do and he'd have none of it--- or he didn't want me to tell people after he proposed, at least for a few days).

So I guess my issue w/ not having a good rock was more about my insecurity or worrying what other people thought or the judgements they might make). Cus I've never had jewelry lust.

And I feel outright entitled to that bit of foolishness because hey, it was 17 yrs ago (this Friday, in fact)and was just a twerp (still kinda am,though).

Maybe I get bonus points for at least going for just a band.

And as for how I feel about it now....totally don't care.

(yike, sorry for long-posting on your thread. But you know me)

k8 said...

oh please..i love your long posts and actually what you just said hits on a lot of why i'm feeling "no thanks" about a ring. it makes me sad that you ever felt any kind of pressure about it. i know in college we spent way, way too much time talking and thinking about rings (which was silly since hi, 10 years later and still single here) and i'll bet there were girls in my circle who were nervous that what they got didn't measure up. It seems like such a dumb thing to compare and judge each other on. i have several friends who have made alternative choices-no ring, different stones, plain band-and it's embarrassing to womankind that those ladies have very often gotten mixed reactions from people. Like we need MORE places to feel we don't measure up.

And let's just remember ladies..."a diamond is forever' is not actually in the Bible, but is quite possibly the greatest feat of advertising copywriting in the history of advertising copywriting. Thanks DeBeers!
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Beers#Marketing)

k8 said...

p.s. Everything you ever say about Kevin makes me think he seems like a pretty cool guy : )

B. said...

Did you jump on the anti-Debeers train after reading an article in the Straight Dope?

'cause that's what I did.

Sarah BTW said...

long time lurker, first time commenter. i found your blog through a friend and i've enjoyed reading it ever since.

when my husband and i first talked about getting engaged i told him that i didn't want a ring but when he insisted i told him that the most he could spend was $100 so he better start looking on ebay. we were living in provo at the time and the reaction i remember the most was from one girl who said to me "did you always want such a...modest ring?" it was really frustrating to be surrounded by so much ring judgment, and i started doing the opposite - judging girls with large rings as being spendthrifts and tacky and thinking that i was better than everyone else because i had refused to buy into the big diamond culture. and while i still kind of do that i try to remind myself that we're all different with different wants and needs and that one girl's desire for a giant ring isn't any better or worse than my desire for the world's best collection of cassette tapes.

anyway, keep posting because i love reading...

f*bomb. said...

Whatever, Katie.
For every pearl you harvest, an oyster has to die. TO DIE, Katie!!! Did you ever consider THAT?!?!

Didn't think so.

jordan said...

I think it is interesting that everyone is worried about what everyone else thinks. :) Like I said before, {in my humble opinion} it is about having good taste and picking out a bomb ass ring that YOU love. Price and good taste are not mutually exclusive. A lot of the comments come from people who got married in college. PLEASE let's not expect the same type of rings from boys who are still in college and men who are in an established career. Since we both had careers when my husband and I got married we had a lot more options for honeymoons, wedding, and ring because we paid for everything ourselves.

P.S. here are some great non-diamond rings I've blogged about before. This Mabe Pearl ring and and this really beautiful aquamarine ring. {Both under $2,000}. I also just talked my friend into getting these rad stacked rings for her engagement ring. {super cheap}

Jenny said...

Hi, I got to your blog from Chloe's blog, and this bling post, and comments have really made me want to comment too! My ring is wonderful. The diamond has been in our family for about 85 years. I love it because 1. I think it is beautiful, and 2. Everytime I look at it, I think not only about my family I have now and my wonderful husband, but it also makes me think of all of the family that came before. It helps me remember what my marriage means to me.
On another note... just to all of you thinking a peral is a great option... think again! Perals are a very soft stone, and to wear it every day is not the best choice... the peral will wear down, and fall out of the setting. If you want to have a stone and you are looking for something that does not have the same moral issues as the "blood Diamonds" you may want to consider Moissanite. It is a lab created stone, but looks very close to a diamond. http://russianbrilliants.net/introduction.html It is also is not too bad on the wallet. Also a Moissanite will test diamond positive with a diamond tester at a jewler. (Except for the newer testers) I have always thought that a simple band is wonderful! It is really up to you, and what you are happy with. You have to look at it every day.

jennyd said...

jordan, loved the aquamarine and stacked rings. i wish i'd been more aware of the options out there. then again, it was 18 yrs ago (i goofed saying it was 17), and it was harder work back then to find affordable style...i really coulda used helps and tips from some of those great blogs i have access to now ;)

Salt H2O said...

If you're secure with who you are, you don't care what's on your hand.

If you're husband is secure with who he is, he won't have to feel like he needs to prove to the world that he's a good provider by going into debt for a worthless rock.

Good for you for not wanting a diamond. I'm impressed by other women who are free enough thinkers to not be pursuaded by society, marketing or peer pressure.

Sarita said...

I have wanted a band for sometime, with or without some small tasteful diamonds. Now I dont even want that. The diamond has somehow become distasteful to me. Not that I walk around judging other people for their rings, but personally, not necessary, and definitely not for me.

Dubious Brown said...

I love this post!