I'm not sure when I first developed my lust for a giant engagement ring. Maybe a movie inspired me. Maybe I had walked past someone wearing one of those sparklers that cast a spell on me to last a lifetime. Those engagement rings are certainly spellbinding.
I’m not about to marry anyone – I’m not even dating anyone seriously right now. But I have to admit that I am in love with that shiny object. On my private Pinterest wedding board (a lot of us have one), there's a surprising number of multi-carat sparklers that have been bookmarked for future reference.
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Truth be told, this high expectation for my future boyfriend is quite unreasonable.
The general rule of thumb is that engagement rings should consume about two months’ earnings of the man proposing.
I may dream of that big rock, but I am totally not for it. Why on Earth should anyone pay thousands of dollars for a piece of jewelry that brings no guarantee to the quality or durability of their relationship?
Big Expenses ≠ Relationship Security
In fact, studies such as “A Diamond is Forever” have discovered that the more expensive an engagement ring tends to be, the higher the likelihood the couple will divorce in the future.
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If your man is making $50,000 annually, then his monthly take-home pay after taxes is typically around $3,000. Your significant other is now expected to shell out $6,000 at the jeweler. In fact, according to a recent survey by the wedding portal The Knot, the average amount that people pay for an engagement ring is $5,855.
Why the Obsession?
I’ve never liked obvious displays of wealth. I don’t like flashy cars or clothes with designer labels on them, and I'm not particularly fond of people who do. Yet here I am, obsessing over an expensive ring.
Is it because, on a subconscious level, I equate it with the value someone places on being with me? Am I an unwitting victim of great marketing by diamond merchants?
A number of my friends have told their future spouses the type of rings they would like on their fingers. In fact, around 42 percent of future brides subtly (or not-so-subtly) steer their future grooms toward specific rings.
That’s a lot of power. A lot of pressure, too, on the guy.
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Making It Work
It takes great courage and conviction to even try to imagine creating a ringless world. Like the idea that you and your fiancé(e) can just forget all about the ring, get married, and go on with life as if you've done nothing out of the ordinary. Good luck with that!
A less radical option would be to explore alternate materials. (Hopefully, not a granite bit set in steel.) And don’t feel shy about looking for deals.
What’s wrong with purchasing last season’s rings? If the ring fits and your partner chooses it with love, then who cares? There are even a few jewelry apps as the Tiffany and Co. Engagement Ring Finder that allow users to find great rings for great deals. Just take the time to read the reviews before making your purchase.
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Another popular option is passing down engagement rings from a relative. The “Hipster Movement” may have also freed people from the expectation that you need to purchase a new ring rather than using a lovely ring that is already in the family.
Ultimately, it’s not about the size of the ring – it's about the strength of the commitment to one another. I'm working hard to let go of my unspoken expectations. When I finally meet “the one,” I will steer him to a less expensive ring that doesn’t create undue financial stress. If for some reason I can’t let this bug go, I will offer to help pay for the ring.
And I will begin looking for deals now.