When did engagement rings turn from being about a promise of love between two people into being a status symbol? When did it go from being about the size, color, and clarity of the diamonds and not the commitment between two people?
I remember the first time I heard about the “carat” rule. I had just taken a job playing piano for a small church near my school and the music minister was asking if I had a boyfriend. Here’s the conversation as I remember it.
MM: Wait, no boyfriend or fiance?
Me: Nope, none of either. I’m pretty dedicated to finishing my education first
MM: But you already have your wedding stuff all picked out, right? All Baylor girls do.
Me: That’d be hard to do since I don’t have a boyfriend. He’d kind of need to be part of all of that.
MM: Okay, but you at least have a ring picked out, right?
Me: Why would I? Isn’t he supposed to pick it out?
MM: Have you even heard of the 1 carat or the answer’s no rule that Baylor girl’s live by?
Me: Yep, but why would I measure his love for me in a tiny rock?
MM: Seriously? My wife lived by that rule, not that she can wear it now. It’s too small since she had our twins.
I’ve heard this before. I’ve heard it many times since. And I refuse to buy into the lies that it sells. The girls at Baylor all lived by it pretty hard core. Guys knew better than to propose with anything less than a 1 carat diamond with plenty of extra sparkles.
I guess a part of me just hoped that this was a symptom of the superficial society that I went to college in. That real grown-up women didn’t concern themselves that much with the size of a diamond on a ring on their finger, much less the size of the one on someone else’s finger.
And then I got pinterest.
No seriously, have you seen the rings that get passed around and repinned and liked on that site? They’re all huge, super glitzy, and crazy expensive. Girl’s pin them insisting that “nothing less” will do.
I was blog hopping the other day and came across a link up called Ring Bling. Sure enough all these women from their mid-20s to their late 30s and probably some older than that had linked up to post pictures of their rings. You were supposed to rave about what you liked about it or, if it was too small, complain about what you really wanted. Single girls were encouraged to post pictures of the rings they wanted in order to give their guy a hint.
I’m not going to lie. I was appalled. Still am, actually.
I know that the diamond engagement ring springs from some very sly marketing campaigns. I know that women everywhere have bought into it. I know that I have a diamond on my finger.
Let me be perfectly honest here. I used to think that I needed a big diamond too. I mean, it was all I heard in college. When I would go with a girlfriend to look at rings, the better to be ready to tell her boyfriend what to get her,* we never looked at anything smaller than a carat. We drooled over rings that cost thousands of dollars.
That’s where I first heard that a guy was supposed to spend the equivalent of 3 months salary on the ring. One of my friend’s told me that meant her guy had better be spending a good nine grand on her ring. Another said he didn’t have to spend that much but that she did expect him to spend at least six grand.
Again, I was (and am) appalled by this. At that point the most expensive piece of jewelry that I owned was my class ring and that cost around 600. I couldn’t imagine wearing something that cost 6-9 thousand dollars on my hand every day.
When B and I got engaged, we went and picked out my ring together. I have always preferred the look of a solitaire diamond and that’s what we went with. I tried on a 1 carat ring first. I looked down, waiting to be stunned by how much I loved it…only to feel that it was too big on my hand. I didn’t like it at all. Down we went to the .75 carat ring. It was better, but still bigger than I wanted to wear every day. The ring we ended up picking was a .5 carat ring. I love it. I wear it with a plain white gold wedding band.
When my sister got married this last year we were standing at the head table when a group of cousins approached us.
Cousins: Oh Myobi, let us see your ring!
Myobi: *dutifully holds out hand*
Cousins: *Lots of squealing about how perfect it is* Kendra let us see your ring too.
Me: *holds out hand*
And then they walked away.
Why are engagement rings a status symbol? Because we let them be one. We determine that if our guy bought us so big of a ring then he must love us more than the girl who gets a smaller ring. Not to mention that he’s clearly a better catch than the guy who can’t afford the big ring.
Until and unless we, as girls, stand up and say that what’s spent on the ring doesn’t matter, that the size doesn’t matter, that it’s about more than those petty things…then it will always be this way.
I have a hard time when girl’s look down on my ring. It makes me want to rush out and buy something more glitzy. And that just makes me sad. Because glitzy isn’t me. And this precious ring is. It isn’t that B and I couldn’t afford a bigger ring, it’s that we chose not to. It’s that we chose to spend our money in other ways.
It certainly doesn’t mean that he loves me less.
I refuse to bow to that way of thinking. I refuse to become part of this mindless herd that buys over priced diamond rings. I refuse to try to cram B’s love for me into one, little ring. It won’t work. It will never fit. He loves me too much.
My ring isn’t about how big the diamond is. It isn’t about how many month’s salary B spent on it. It isn’t about showing up the Joneses or anyone else. It isn’t about measuring up in other people’s eyes.
It’s a symbol of our love for each other. It’s a symbol of our commitment to each other. It’s a symbol of our marriage.
Nothing more. Nothing less.