Engagement Ring: Women Ownership?

While attending the annual holiday work party, I began to converse with a very brilliant Brazilian designer who proclaimed that she was getting married in the new year. I was excited for her and as we continued talking, I noticed that she was not wearing an engagement ring.diamond-2

Me: “Where’s your ring?”

Designer: “I”m sorry?”

Me: “You’re engagement ring.”

Designer: “Oh there is no engagement ring. That’s not our tradition.”

I must admit, it sounded bizarre to me in the beginning and as I stood there puzzled, she continued to explain to me that in Brazil there are no such thing as engagement rings. The only ring that matters is the wedding band. The moment you are on the alter saying your “I do”s, the wedding bands is the only essential jewelry item. Suddenly it dawned on me that the weeding band is the only ring that truly matters…so where did the engagement ring come from?

Let’s think back to the meaning of an engagement ring. In Western culture, the engagement rings symbolizes a woman who is going to be married, duh. Yet as I think back to the couples who were engaged and how the women flaunted their rings, I notice how the women are the only one’s who were rocking the bling bling. I rarely see a male who is getting married wear an engagement ring, so  what about the men?

In Brazilian culture, the groom-and-bride-to-be wear their wedding bands as their engagement rings and on the day they are married the rings are moved from the right hand to the left. The same concept is done in Argentina. However in Western culture, the sole focus is on women only wearing this ring and the importance to wear it at all times showing everyone that they are in a state of celebration (and are no longer single). With this coming to mind, the concept of engagement rings symbolism property of ownership to their male counterparts, losing the main focus and reason for the couples planned matrimony. I assume ladies all over are very familiar with the famous jingles that circulate the commercial line up on the television: “Every kiss begins with K” or “He went to Jared!” advocating the purchasing of diamonds. In the wonderful world of advertising, dozens of jewelry stores (especially the world famous Tiffany & Company) promote the importance and necessity to have an engagement ring before couples get married. In 2010, brides and grooms spent approximately $9.64 billion on engagement rings and weddings bands alone. 9.64 billions dollars!

But it doesn’t stop there. Because of the constant commercialism and numerous companies, not only does the woman need an engagement ring in Western society…but it cannot be any old ring. Hence the competition of whose ring is bigger which is another product of Western media insinuating that bigger is better. It cannot be silver, it has to be white gold or the diamond has to have a round shape, the carat of the diamond has to be exquisite, the list goes on. Since when does the size of the rock on your finger dictate the relationship status of a couple?

Yes diamonds are gorgeous and I am not opposed for women to obtain one that symbolizes the next step in life and sharing an adventurous journey with their counterpart, but the companies need to stop insinuating that having a large flashy diamond ring is a necessity and only proof of love from their partner. To remember why they both are getting married in the first place. So for the ladies who are engaged, don’t be blinded by the bling and remember the true essence of why you are marrying your mate.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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